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Nine ways to build a positive mindset as a carer

Lydia, from Carers Leeds, shares her top tips for building a more positive mindset in our caring roles. Plus, tips that have worked for carers in the Mobilise Community.



Creating a positivity toolkit for the everyday

Nobody feels positive 365 days of the year, even wellness gurus! In fact, it’s far healthier that we allow ourselves to feel all the feelings. But there are things we can do, to support our mindset to shift into a more positive frame.


In a busy caring role, we face many daily obstacles and challenges that can sometimes lead to negative thoughts. Building a more positive mindset framework can build our resilience, by helping the brighter days to outweigh the darker ones. Helping us to notice at least a little light in the everyday.


This isn’t about saying ‘just be positive’ – we all know that doesn’t work and is rather infuriating to hear!


"It is about developing great habits that allow us to notice the small, good moments, shifting the balance in how we feel."

Nine ways to build a more positive mindset

There are several tools or habits that can support us to have a more positive mindset. It’s about finding something that works for each of us.


It’s also about committing ourselves to give a new habit a good shot. Giving a new habit long enough, so that we can really start to feel the benefit from it.


Here are just a few suggestions, all of which take very little time each day.


1. Keep a gratitude journal

Gratitude journaling is the practice of actively writing down the things we are grateful for. All we need is a notebook and pen. We can just use any kind of notebook, or maybe it’s a great opportunity to treat ourselves.


There are some lovely options at Papier which include some gratitude prompts.


We start each day by writing down three things we are grateful for every morning. Noticing how that makes us feel. Noticing any shift in our feelings, by simply pausing to notice the good stuff.


If we find our minds going blank, that’s OK - it’s a new habit. Start small. How about being grateful for a perfect cup of coffee in peace? The more we practice, the easier it gets.


And soon, we’ll find ourselves filling half a page!


Oprah Winfrey’s website has a number of videos to get us started thinking this way. She talks about the power of ‘focusing on the good we have, not the lack of it.’


For journaling inspiration, blogger Lucy Moon talks about her experience journaling on YouTube.


On top of journalling, the Guardian also has a great article on 100 ways to slightly improve our lives without really trying.



2. Tap into uplifting quotes

Reading a quote that perfectly captures our feelings can provide a really powerful moment. But how can we come across quotes that can help?

Illustration of man reading a book.

Books

Why not treat ourselves to an uplifting book? Carve some time out of our day, to sit down and take the time to replenish with an uplifting read, such as a mindfulness book like The Little Book of Calm. We can make a note of any particular favourites quotes in our journal.


"I use borrow box audio books...brilliant as I can listen with my earphones and disturb no one!!"
"I love reading and I always find time for it."

For more suggestions of uplifting reads, check out ‘10 books every carer should read’.


Social media

If we’re on social media, then adding inspiring content to our feed is very easy. It can shift everyday thought patterns almost without us noticing.


Instagram has lots of accounts that focus purely on uplifting content. Why not screenshot quotes we find most relatable and save them to an album on our phone. That way, we can quickly remind ourselves when we need to.


Here are some Instagram accounts that focus on uplifting content to get us started:


3. Affirmation card decks

There are plenty of affirmation or positivity card decks around, and with different themes.


It can be helpful to start our day by selecting one card and reading it out loud. Repeating the affirmation throughout the day, and keeping the card with us during the day.


Gabrielle Bernstein’s card decks are full of positive affirmations such as


"My power lies in my peaceful presence."

On a stressful day, having that card tucked in our purse or pocket can empower us to find a moment of calm.


The Blurt Foundation, who work to increase awareness and understanding of depression, also publishes useful card packs.


They have some great themed packs, such as:

  • 54 Reasons Why You Matter Card Pack

  • 54 Cards For Press Pause Moments

  • 54 Kind Cards For Unkind Days



4. Slow down

It is so easy to rush through the day and react quickly to situations. And when we react without stopping to think, we can sometimes overreact.


Although quick reactions are certainly necessary at times. But if the situation is not critical, let’s slow down and digest the facts before we respond. Saving ourselves from perhaps an unnecessary rise in un-beneficial emotions.


Here are some tools we can use in moments of stress, to help us process before we react:

  • Pause. Take some deep breaths. Carmen Cooper, a wellbeing facilitator has a guided video we can follow.

  • Ask ourselves, does it matter? or Why is this bothering me? Sometimes the answer is surprising.

  • Take five minutes outside listening to nature.

  • Sing along to our favourite song.

  • Write down our thoughts and feelings in our journal.

  • Call someone whose advice we trust.

  • Practice meditation with the Headspace App.


"I like the pause, that tea allows" - Waris Ahluwalia

If we still feel the same, we can then at least respond from a place of reasoned emotion, and not just emotion. And we will have saved ourselves an initial avalanche of un-beneficial feelings.


5. Connect with friends and family

It can be a battle to stay upbeat when we feel alone – and we all need to ask for support at times. This can be reaching out to our friends or family, running errands with them, or going for a short walk.

Illustration of a group call.

"Little chats with friends can actually be inspiring."
"I've started doing an exercise class recently. Just once a week. This is a BIG deal for me as I've not done exercise for sooo long. What has enabled me to get out the front door is a friend picking me up."

Speaking to others who are also caring can help alleviate feelings of isolation, and build friendship and empathy.


Mobilise also run online daily virtual cuppas for carers, a chance to connect with others without having to leave the house.

"Mobilise cuppas have made a huge difference for me...I have realised how very important my own self-care is."

Some carers have shared that they've joined their local carers centre. For example, Carers Leeds runs lots of online events, as do other organisations around the country.


6. Listen to music or podcasts

Pop on some music or a podcast while we are on the move – listening to a favourite playlist is sure to put a smile on our face. Or subscribe to a positivity podcast. Podcasts are free and we can access them from our phones. Mobilise have a 'Who Cares Win' podcast for us to listen to!


Here are some popular podcasts that focus on the power of positive thinking:


7. Open up difficult conversations

Sometimes we might find ourselves burying our head in the sand when it comes to difficult conversations. It might be difficult conversations with family members about money, practical help, or holiday planning that we're reluctant to bring up. And find that after having these conversations, some of the weight has been lifted off our chests or we have a sense of control again.


8. Try the biscuit tin tip!

A super creative tip from a carer in our community is writing a post-it note of one thing we want to do for ourselves that day and stick it somewhere we know we will see it. For example, if we often find ourselves reaching for a biscuit, pop it on the lid of the biscuit tin.


This means the next time we go for a biscuit, we see the reminder to do what we want for ourselves first (but obviously we can still let ourselves enjoy the biscuit if we want it). 😉


9. Give ourselves permission to pause or step away

Although it might sound like a simple thing to do, these small things can add up. Allowing ourselves to step away from caring for as little as 10 minutes when we feel overwhelmed might be the one small thing we introduce into our day-to-day.


For example, a two-degree change may feel small, but if we think of a flight path - a two-degree change will change the flight path trajectory and we’ll land somewhere completely different.


So what is one small thing you will do?


About the author

Lydia is a support worker at Carers Leeds, where she creates groups and activities to bring carers together in a positive and uplifting way.


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