A Shift in Perspective Can Change Everything

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by Katie Griffith |

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Hello and happy holidays! Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and this time of year can be so hectic that it’s often over before we have time to process it. I hope you are able to carve out a few moments during this season to ponder gratitude and to focus on some of the positive things in your life that you are thankful for.

Honestly, I can say that gratitude was probably the last thing I felt a few years ago when my son was diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia. Initially, I felt sad, lonely, and hopeless.

Although time has passed, I still sometimes feel those emotions when I let myself think too far into the future, with all of its unknowns. I’ve found that a shift in perspective can bring me out of heavy thoughts and help me focus on my present reality instead.

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Matthew Schumann, a psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic, writes that “feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood and immunity. Gratitude can also decrease depression, anxiety, difficulties with chronic pain and risk of disease.” In line with what studies have shown, when I intentionally replace my worries with thoughts of gratitude, my anxiety tends to decrease.

Based on my perspective, the future can either be dark and scary or filled with hope. I can choose to celebrate the moments I get to spend with my son and the rest of my family, or I can live in fear of what the future may bring. As Oprah once said, “Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.”

I recognize that for some of you out there, your present reality may be very challenging. Gratitude can take us a long way, but sometimes we all need help to find it. If your life as a caregiver feels heavy and full of despair, may I encourage you to reach out to someone? It may be a fellow caregiver, a friend, or a counselor — anyone that can give you a safe space to be honest about how hard your current circumstances are.

We all need a community, a group of people who understand what we are experiencing and who can be there to share the joys and the sorrows. One of my favorite song lyrics is from an artist named Sara Groves. While she is referring to marriage in her song “Twice as Good,” I think the lyrics can apply to any relationship: “Life with you is half as hard and twice as good.”

Life is full of beautiful, messy moments. A perspective shift can help us find ways to be grateful, even in the midst of hard days and an unknown future.

This holiday season, may the family and friends around us help us to see the present for what it truly is: something to be thankful for.

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Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Friedreich’s Ataxia News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Friedreich’s ataxia.

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