Hope for living, loving, and caring with no regrets!

Successful Meals

Episode 126

Rayna Neises, ACC, host, reflects on her interview from last week with Heather Carter (Episode 125). Heather is a cancer survivor and she shared tips from her season of being cared for. She reminded us that our mindset and attitude have a significant impact on those we are caring for. Rayna shares additional information on this aspect of caregiving and how gratitude can help:

  • [6:23] True gratitude is to focus on what you have in the moment.
  • [8:00] Make gratitude a part of your daily or weekly routine.
  • [10:19] Just saying Thank You can be helpful.
  • [10:53] Finding the method that works best for you is the most effective
  • [11:33] A few benefits of gratitude:
    • Help you make friends
    • Improve your physical health
    • Improve your psychological health
    • Less likely to seek revenge against others
    • Improve sleep
    • Enhance self-esteem
    • Increase mental strength
  • [13:00] Ways to develop a gratitude behavior:
    • [13:51] Daily journaling
    • [14:11] Use a gratitude jar
    • [15:15] Use a gratitude rock
    • [16:19] Look around at your surroundings
  • [16:50] 21-Day Gratitude Challenge with Rayna
    • [17:15] Three Blessings Exercise
    • [17:47] Say Thank You
    • [19:16] Stop and Smell the Roses
  • [21:08] Sign up to be a part at www.aseasonofcaring.com/gratitude

This Episode was Sponsored by:


*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

[00:00:00] Rayna Neises: Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos, into order and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home and a stranger into a friend. This is a quote by Melody Beattie. I love this quote. Hi, I’m Rayna Neises, your host of A Season of Caring Podcast, where there’s hope for living loving and caring with no regrets.

[00:00:33] Welcome. I’m so glad that you’re here today. I say each time we start a podcast, hope for living loving and caring. All of those things are so important. Offering you hope for your life. Hope for loving well and hope for caring well. Today we’re gonna talk a little bit more about one of the things that I think can offer you that [00:01:00] in this season of caring.

[00:01:03] In episode 125, I interviewed Heather Carter. Heather is a cancer survivor, and she shared some tips about what was really helpful to her during her season of battling cancer. She mentioned her mom was one of those people who just brought joy when she came. And one of the things she really encouraged us as caregivers to understand is that how we react to their situation impacts them both spiritually and physically. So remembering that our mindset, our attitude, how we live, how we love and how we care has a significant impact on those that we’re caring for. And that got me thinking about gratitude.

[00:01:52] Those of you that know my story know that I cared for my dad in his home who had Alzheimer’s disease. He had been diagnosed probably [00:02:00] about nine years when I started traveling from my home to his, to stay with him Thursday through Sunday and care for him.

[00:02:08] And when I first started traveling, one of the first things I did was take on this project outside the house, it had just gotten a little barren. Many of the plants had died in the front of the house and the landscaping just wasn’t looking great. And I thought we can do that. And so dad and I spent a very hot Saturday planting some new plants and shrubs. And a year later, some of ’em didn’t make it . And so I bought some new ones to replace a couple that didn’t survive and he and I were out again, venturing into this fun opportunity to do a project together. And it wasn’t going near as well as it had a year before. Obviously with Alzheimer’s that probably shouldn’t have been a surprise. It also wasn’t one of the best days for my dad. In fact, it was about this time during the year [00:03:00] in Missouri. So we know it was very hot, but as we were planting the first time he could dig the hole where I needed him to the second time he was having a little trouble understanding that . And so eventually I went and grabbed the hose as we got the plants planted and dad just made a mess in the mud. He got mud all over. And as we were finishing up, I said, you know, dad, Hey, come in here, let’s take your shoes off. I left him at the foot of the stairs. So let’s go ahead and take your shoes off and I’ll get you some clean shoes.

[00:03:33] So I took his shoes. I knew better than to leave him right there in front of him because he loved his shoes. He really never ran around barefoot. And so I took the shoes around the corner, into the laundry room and I set them right next to the sink where I was gonna clean ’em off. I ran by and said, Hey, I’ll be right back with your shoes.

[00:03:53] And I ran upstairs to get his shoes. I think I might have stopped to go to the bathroom. [00:04:00] By the time I got back I actually met him at the top of the steps. He had found his muddy shoes. He had put them back on and he had walked around the basement and up the stairs and was just inside of the door, tracking mud all along the way.

[00:04:20] Ugh. I was so frustrated. I had tried to do everything possible to avoid this catastrophe. Right. But I didn’t avoid it. And as I stopped to think about it, I had found that I was becoming more and more frustrated after leaving, spending time with him. And that I was really finding myself just kind of irritable about the whole thing.

[00:04:47] As I stopped and really thought about it. The reason why I’m here is to spend time with him and to keep him in his home and to enjoy this time. So muddy shoes really [00:05:00] aren’t the end of the world, right? Rayna? So I had to have those conversations with myself, but I also did a little praying about it and tried to figure out how I could shift my perspective and start to think of things a little bit differently so that as the decline continued, which it was going to, I could handle it better.

[00:05:20] Well, about the same time I was doing some research to create a gratitude challenge for my coaching clients. And I was looking at understanding gratitude better and how to help support others in their process of developing a new gratitude practice. So of course, as I was researching it, that meant I needed to be practicing it as well.

[00:05:42] So at that point I started practicing some new things with gratitude and I found that they really did have an impact on my heart and my life in my caring season. I found the heartache didn’t go away. There was still heartache there, [00:06:00] but it no longer became the thing that I focused on.

[00:06:04] I was able to focus on the things that I did have. I was able to find many, many small blessings in the midst of every day. and that was enough. That was enough to help me make a switch in my focus and find the joy that I wanted in caring for my dad. 

[00:06:23] Now that I was able to move from being grateful for him and the time with him, not because of what he could or couldn’t do, but because of the amazing person he was and is. The key to having gratitude, make an impact on my life in that season was truly staying focused on what I had, which was him right there in front of me. True gratitude rather is to focus on what you have in the moment.

[00:06:50] So as I immersed myself in gratitude, I found more peace in the moments of life with dad. Allowed me to be grateful and make life better for both of [00:07:00] us. Obviously dad’s illness didn’t improve, but my heart of gratitude helped me to handle it with more, love, more grace and more peace.

[00:07:08] So today that’s my hope for you that as you learn more about gratitude and I offer the 21 day gratitude challenge to you, I hope that it will impact you in the same way that it did me in my caring season. So let’s start out taking a look at a few things that have to do with gratitude and why gratitude works.

[00:07:29] Now, a lot of times you probably have heard about gratitude and it might seem like it’s something that’s just a little fishy, or you might even say to me, gosh, Rena, you know, I just don’t have any rose colored glasses. Things are just too hard. I found as I’ve talked to many caregivers, They might already be an point of depression and gratitude’s really not gonna help you really need to find some help. If you find yourself depressed. 

[00:07:59] The [00:08:00] limits of gratitude’s health benefits are truly. How much you pay attention to feeling and practicing gratitude. Experts say that you have to make it a part of your daily or weekly routine. In fact, scientific evidence from gratitude research backs up a few typical approaches, including saying thanks to people who don’t expect. Writing down a few things each day to be grateful for. So they’re simple and they’re short little things, but they really have a significant impact.

[00:08:29] In fact, the benefits associated with gratitude include better sleep, more exercise, reduce symptoms of physical pain, lower levels of inflammation, lower blood pressure, and a host of other things that were associated with better health. According to an expert in the science of gratitude at USC Marshall School of Business.

[00:08:52] So really there are so many things to think about when we’re talking about gratitude. Arlene Rosenstein, a psychologist, an [00:09:00] Associate Vice Provost for Campus Wellbeing and Education at USC says there’s something wonderful about getting together with people and being thankful. People who are grateful, get less triggered or angry. They have more positive feelings. And in some ways that attracts other people. When you feel these positive emotions and relish, good experiences with other people, there’s a bonding in that. And it tends to build stronger relationships. Rosenstein says that those relationships are really important and that’s something we’re gonna think about as well, because that can be tricky in a caring season. Can’t it? But we can build a stronger relationship with the person that we’re caring for. I think it’s so funny. My three year old grandson says Thank You all the time. And it’s sad to me because it almost surprises me how often he says it. He doesn’t always say, please, in fact, I don’t know that he says, please, but he always says, Thank You.

[00:09:59] [00:10:00] When we are getting ready to go outside and play. And I’m like, Lawson, let’s get your shoes on. He’ll sit down. We put his shoes on and I put him on the ground. He’ll say, Thank You, Graham. And it’s just. All I did was put your shoes on bud. You know, it’s such an awesome thing to hear. Thank you. So even if the person we’re caring for can’t do a lot for us.

[00:10:19] Just being able to remember to say thank you even to them can be so helpful. There are some definite proven techniques into becoming more grateful of a person . Glenn Fox, an expert in the science of gratitude says that practicing gratitude can have such an amazing impact on your life. In fact, he said gratitude research has shown that some of the most effective approaches, including maintaining a gratitude journal. Writing personal, thank you notes. And regularly expressing gratitude to others.

[00:10:53] He suggested experimenting to find the method that works best with you is the best way to go about it. [00:11:00] He recommends sticking to something for a few weeks and note the improvements that you feel. So just spending a few minutes, each day, winding down from bed, writing a gratitude list or writing four or five things that you’re grateful for that happen that day can be a simple practice that can really have a big . Even taking time, just to meditate on those things, which you’re thankful for. Some people find that expressing things with a written note or a text or an email can be just as beneficial. 

[00:11:33] Some of the benefits of gratitude actually just kind of blow my mind. I found this article on Positive Psychology that gives you different positive benefits of Gratitude 

[00:11:43] It can can help you make friends. One study found that thinking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek you out and have a more lasting relationship with you.

[00:11:52] It can Improve your physical health people who exhibit gratitude, report, fewer aches and pains, a general feeling of. [00:12:00] More regular exercise and more frequent checkups with their doctor than those who don’t. 

[00:12:05] It can improve your psychological health, grateful people enjoy higher wellbeing and happiness and suffer from reduced symptoms of depression, enhanced empathy, and reduced aggression.

[00:12:17] Those who show their gratitude are less likely to seek revenge against others and more likely to behave in a pro-social manner with sensitivity and.

[00:12:28] It can improve your sleep. Practicing gratitude regularly can help you sleep longer and better.

[00:12:34] It can enhance your own self-esteem people who are grateful have increased self-esteem partly due to their ability to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.

[00:12:42] And increase in mental strength. Grateful people have an advantage in overcoming trauma and enhanced resilience, helping them to bounce back from highly stressful situations. 

[00:12:54] Those are some great benefits of gratitude. With those benefits of [00:13:00] gratitude, I’m sure that you’re starting to think to. Okay, how do I express gratitude? Rayna?, I’ve never done this before. And oftentimes one of the very first things that comes to mind is a gratitude journal and journaling can be a great activity. Not everybody loves to journal, but I would say everybody can journal. Especially if you’re being intentional about developing this new gratitude behavior or this new attitude of Gratitude.

[00:13:31] Quick three to five things that you’re especially thankful for that day can really make a difference. Whether you’re writing it down in a notebook or on a sticky note, or even just in your phone, taking notes on that day’s calendar. Being able to record three to five things can really make such a great difference.

[00:13:51] I would recommend you start out doing it daily, cuz it will start to help your brain to look for those things and think about being grateful for [00:14:00] things. Later you can cut back to once a week maybe, but really paying attention to what you’re grateful for becomes easier as you practice it. So you want to get in the habit of practicing.

[00:14:11] Another way of practicing gratitude is a gratitude jar. It’s this simple exercise that can really have a profound impact on your wellbeing and outlook. It requires a couple things, a box or jar, ribbon stickers, glitter, whatever, however you wanna make it look pretty. And really you’re just going to decorate your jar and make sure that it’s something you enjoy and it calls your attention to it. So you stop to think about it. And then every day you’re gonna think at least three things throughout the day that you’re grateful for. It can be something as benign as a cup of coffee or getting to talk to your loved one, or have a special lunch with a friend, but you’re going to write down what you’re grateful for in these little slips of paper and fill your jar.

[00:14:55] Over time you’ll find that your jar is full of a myriad of reasons to be thankful for what you [00:15:00] have and enjoying life that you’re living. It just helps you to express that attitude of gratitude. And you know, if you’re feeling down, it’s a great thing to be able to go back and grab a few of those notes out of your jar and read them to yourself.

[00:15:15] Some people use a gratitude rock. This seems a little silly, but it definitely can be something that can help you to practice gratitude. The secret to this exercise is the rock is a symbol. It’s a physical object that will remind you to pay attention to what you’re thankful for. So here’s simple instructions on this one, find a rock, any rock that you would like, you’re gonna pick that rock and make sure you really like it. It’s something that’s interesting to you, a texture that you really appreciate. You’re gonna carry the rock around in your pocket, or you’re gonna leave it on your desk where you see it regularly. And every time you see that rock, you’re gonna touch it and think of one thing you’re thankful for each time you stop and notice it. And at the end of the day, you’re going to take a [00:16:00] moment to remember the things that you were grateful for throughout the day. So that it, again, reinforces that attitude of gratitude, it’s the trigger. It’s the trigger that will help you become mindful of the things you are thankful for. And then at the end of the day, it will really help you to go back and focus on them again. 

[00:16:19] So one other thing to help you think of what you’re grateful for might be taking a few moments to look around. What do you see with your eyes? What do you hear? What do you smell? What are these things from your sense? Prompting you to be thankful for. That can be a really easy way to think of things. Depending on what your situation is, it can be tough to find things, to be thankful for. I will link this article, those were just a few that I thought were really interesting. 

[00:16:50] We’ve talked about some benefits of gratitude, both physical and emotional, definitely spiritual as well. I would like to offer you an opportunity to do a really [00:17:00] simple 21 day gratitude challenge with me. This is just gonna be an email prompt each day, to remind you to start to develop this pattern. And you’re gonna be able to keep track of some points that you will earn from doing one of three activities. 

[00:17:15] Every day we’re going to do one thing. You can do more than one, but every day I want you to do at least one. So one of those activities is the three blessings exercise. This was created by Robert Emmonds. At the end of the day, you’re gonna list three things big or small that you consider being a positive experience from your day. Taking the time to evaluate the day and finding at least three things to record in a journal or in your calendar on your phone, can have a really positive impact in your life.

[00:17:47] Number two, say thank you more. Noticing things that others are doing for you and saying, thank you. That might be a thank you note. We all love to get [00:18:00] mail. That’s not bills, right? Nobody gets mail anymore. So it’s nice to go to the mailbox and get a little, thank you note. So a written thank you. Or even a text can be really impactful. There are tons of little things throughout the day that you can stop and think someone for. You can send a thank you note , to your pastor for the sermon last week, you can send a thank you note to a friend for catching coffee with you. You can send a thank you note to a relative for being who they are. It doesn’t matter. So just sending an actual thank you note or text, or you can offer that verbal, thank you to those that you run into in your everyday life. Like Mr. Lawson, who says, Thank you, Graham. A lot whenever we’re together. Just that verbal.

[00:18:48] Thank you like me. It can make you just kind of take a step back and be like, Aw, you’re welcome, bud. so thinking of what those are and just taking the time, thank that cashier, [00:19:00] thank that barista, thank the man who stopped to open the door for you, or even hold it open for you, even a family member who does something for you say, thank you. Stop make it something that they notice and really say, thank you, expressing that appreciation for everyday things .

[00:19:16] Number three, stop and smell the roses. Stop for 30 seconds. Take in all the things that are around you and offer a prayer of Thanksgiving. Literally stop, smell, see, touch. Think about what’s around you and what you have to be thankful for. If you’re outside, thankful for your car, for the weather, for the sunshine, for the person who’s with you, just stop in the moment, spend 30 seconds and really be mindful. Of what you’re thankful for and express. If you’re a person of faith, express it to the Lord. If you’re not express it to the universe, whatever it is you think. Take the time to express [00:20:00] that gratitude right then and there, each of these three activities will have points that you can earn.

[00:20:04] If you take the time to turn in your tracker sheet, to me by August 15th, 2022, you can be eligible for a drawing for one of the gifts that I have available.

[00:20:15] I just wanna encourage you to use this strong tool. It’s such a simple tool. I think we can overlook it easily, but it is a powerful tool. Our brains are wired in a way that what we look for, we see. We’ve all experienced it. Right? You get a new car and all of a sudden you see them everywhere, same color, same model, everything. Before you got the new car or started looking for that car, you never even noticed. It’s not because more people have bought cars like you it’s because they’ve always been there, but you haven’t noticed them.

[00:20:53] Our brains are wired to look for what we notice. If we notice those things, which we are thankful for, we [00:21:00] will see more of them. We all can use more gratitude and more thankfulness in our season of caring. 

[00:21:08] I hope that this has been encouraging for you today. If you would like to sign up to be a part of the 21 day Gratitude Challenge, you can start at any time, just visit www.aseasonofcaring.com/gratitude and sign up there. You’ll start receiving your emails for your 21 days to build this new habit of gratitude.

[00:21:29] Thanks for joining me on A Season of Caring Podcast. This podcast has been created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have financial, medical or legal questions, be sure to consult your local professionals and take heart in your season of caring.

[00:21:45] This podcast episode has been brought to you by the Gratitude Challenge. Sign up today at www.aseasonofcaring.com/gratitude to be a part of the 21 day Gratitude Challenge to grow your gratitude [00:22:00] muscle and receive all the positive impacts that gratitude can have on your life.

*This transcript is a literal recount of the live recording, please forgive the grammatical errors



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Meet Your Host

Rayna Neises, ACC

An ICF Certified Coach, Author of No Regrets:  Hope for Your Caregiving Season, Podcaster, Positive Approach® to Care (PAC)Independent Certified Trainer & Speaker, offering encouragement, support, and resources to those who are in a Season of Caring for Aging Parents.

Her passion is for those caring and their parents, that they might be seen, not forgotten & cared for, not neglected.

Rayna Neises

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