When one is dealing with an illness, coping with grief, or struggling with burnout, it can be quite easy for negative emotions to arise. And understandably so! These situations are difficult and complex and touch all aspects of our lives. Yet it is important to understand that to some extent, emotions are neutral — neither negative or positive. It is only when they tip into excess that they begin to affect us in negative or positive ways.
Illness or managing the physical ailments of old age are examples of factors that cause an excess of the kinds of emotions that cause negative effects. For instance, a little bit of anger is a good thing. The root of it stems from wanting to protect yourself, whether it be your safety or something you believe in. It is only when something triggers a large does of anger that this emotion produces harmful effects on our bodies, such as insomnia, digestive issues, and muscle tension. This is why anger is often referred to as a “negative” emotion.
With other emotions, such as happiness and joy, having a lot is a good thing. A study called Psychological Resilience and Positive Emotional Granularity confirmed what folk theory has been promoting for centuries — that positive emotions are good for our health. There is a reason why we use the phrase "laughter is the best medicine". The study showed that people who used humor and laughter as a way to cope with stress gained increased levels of salivary immunoglobulin, which is an immune system protein that helps the body defend against respiratory illnesses. The study also confirmed improvements in psychological health, longevity, and cardiovascular benefits.
3 Ways to Induce and Cultivate Positive Emotions
If you are a home caregiver, you can use positive emotions to help improve the health and well-being of the people in your care. You can also use positive emotions to improve your own health, which will benefit the quality of your home caregiving services. Listed below are three ways to induce positive emotions:
Humor. The ability to laugh remains intact even with the most serious of illnesses. This counts even for people who have severe dementia or paraplegia. Something as simple as watching a funny movie can create laughter, joy, and happiness. Jokes, riddles, and silly board games are other ways home caregivers can add a little humor to the lives of their clients.
Music. Many studies have shown that music is a great form of therapy for seniors who are living with cognitive impairment. For many people, music is closely linked to memories and emotions. Seniors who have trouble remembering what they did earlier in the day may still remember all the words to their favorite songs perfectly. The positive emotions of nostalgia, tenderness, joy, love, and happiness arise from listening to music and have been shown to reduce anxiety and stress.
Crafts. As we age, our mobility often becomes limited, so making crafts becomes one of the few activities in which seniors can actively participate. Beyond nostalgia and helping to pass the time, crafts for seniors come with a variety of health benefits such as improved cognitive ability, pain relief, and lower blood pressure. There are many types of crafts to choose from and each come with their own set of health and wellness benefits. However, health conditions such as arthritis can impair a senior’s ability to make crafts, which is why the support of a home caregiver can be helpful. View 5 craft ideas for seniors here.
The Value of Home Care Services
Home caregivers allow people to recover and age within the comfort of their own homes. Having the support of a home caregiver in and of itself helps cultivate positive emotions, such as security and comfort, thereby benefiting the health of the people receiving home care services. At Alegre Home Care, we go even further than traditional home care services by specializing in dementia care and services for tailored to the unique needs of LGBT seniors. All of our home caregivers are highly trained and are paired with clients in a way that ensures a harmonious fit. If you are interested in receiving home care services, please contact us at one of our Northern California home care agency locations.