How Your Attitude Impacts Your Hospice Care Results
National Attitude Day was June 5th this year, and it’s a time to work on improving your outlook on life. You can do this by making an effort to smile more, reframe situations, build resiliency, foster building healthy relationships, and accept that change happens in life — sometimes not for the better. Keeping a positive attitude isn’t always easy, especially when you’re in hospice care in San Mateo and elsewhere. Just like any other challenging situation in life, your attitude impacts hospice care results. Here’s how.
The Power of Positive Thinking
Many people who have positive attitudes face just as many problems as people with negative attitudes. The difference is, they don’t let those problems control their outlook on life. Research shows there is a strong link between positivity and health, says Johns Hopkins Medicine. In fact, a positive attitude has been shown to improve outcomes and life satisfaction across many conditions, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, and brain tumors. Positivity is also good for your heart. Those with a family history of heart disease who bring a positive outlook to their daily life are one-third less likely to experience a heart attack or other serious cardiovascular event within 5-25 years than people with a negative outlook.
Positive attitudes protect against inflammation from stress as well. And because a positive attitude can help you make healthier decisions from the get-go, this results in better health down the road. That’s because hope and positivity go hand in hand, encouraging people to make better life and health decisions while focusing on long-term goals. On the flip side, studies show that negative emotions weaken immune response.
It’s easy to tell someone to fix their attitude and put a positive spin on things, but when that person is in hospice with a life-threatening condition, this is often easier said than done. When people first learn they have a life-threatening illness, this often leads to a range of negative feelings such as anger, fear, and sadness. But something positive can also be gained from the experience. Those in hospice have a chance to put their affairs in order and prepare for death, unlike those who die suddenly from a heart attack or car accident. This gives hospice patients a unique perspective and opportunity to embrace a positive attitude for themselves and those around them.
Tips For Improving Attitude
There are a few ways you can improve your attitude no matter what situation you find yourself in.
- Smile more: University of Kansas researchers found that smiling reduces the body’s response to stress while lowering heart rate in tense situations. They determined that smiling—even when it feels fake—reduces blood pressure and heart rate when immersed in stressful situations.
- Practice reframing: This is a technique used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to identify automatic, negative thoughts and replace them with more positive, balanced thoughts. The practice of identifying and then halting these distortions and negative thoughts is important in breaking the cycle of anxiety, stress, and depression that is inherent in humans, especially those with a terminal illness. Good things can come out of bad. When faced with illness, you can readdress what really matters in life.
- Build resiliency: This is the ability to adapt to negative or stressful situations or losses. You can build resiliency by maintaining good relationships with family and friends, accepting that change is part of life, and taking action on problems rather than sweeping them under the rug. You can use this opportunity to mend frayed relationships, reach out to loved ones, and express your affection and appreciation for others close to you.
- Listen to your internal dialogue: When bombarded with negative thoughts, turn it around and make it a positive thought instead.
- Find other positive people: This is not a time to surround yourself with negative people. This will only serve to bring you down to their level. Instead, stick with your “tribe” — those who bring a positive, can-do attitude while bringing out the best in you and others.
- Take this chance to say good-bye: While death can happen to anyone at any time, having a longer timeline than most can give you the opportunity to reach out to the important people in your life by offering formal farewells while you still can. Not everyone is blessed with this gift of time. You could speak face to face, or send a letter or video message. However you do it, consider those final words to be a gift preserved for generations. You may even want to have a “celebration of life” party while you are still alive to gather with those you love and who love you.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
Having a positive attitude isn’t just for patients but for caregivers as well. The caregivers here at Pathways are always ready with a smile, providing the most compassionate and attentive care possible. Find out how we do that when you call us at 888-978-1306.