The holiday season can be a time of joy, wonderment and beauty, but let’s be honest. It can also be extremely stressful. From the additional social obligations to the financial burdens of gift buying to upholding all the annual traditions of the season, it’s a lot. Add in the additional responsibilities of being a caregiver and you might just wish it were January already.
We’ve put together some good tips for caregivers for dealing with the additional stresses of the holidays:
- Make a holiday to-do list – This list may include parties, deadlines for mailing out cards and who you need to buy gifts for. Figure out realistically which ones you can do (and want to do) and which ones you need to hand off to someone else in your support network.
- Delegate – You know that you can’t possibly do it all. You may find it helpful to create a list of people in your loved one’s support network (siblings, friends and service providers) and start handing off some of the responsibilities from your list.
- Start new traditions – There likely are traditions that you have done year to year because they are just that; traditions. For example, you may have made handmade cookies or candies annually to give out to family and friends which can be time consuming and labor intensive. If you find yourself dreading any of your traditions instead of enjoying them it’s ok to not do them or find a simpler alternative.
- Simplify – Did you know many online card services can address your holiday cards for you? Online shopping has become really easy and while it may seem impersonal, people LOVE receiving gift cards. Remember, it’s always the thought that counts and others know how busy you are as a caregiver.
- Don’t forget about caring for YOU – It can be easy to eat too much or drink too much or miss out on your regular exercise routine when things get hectic. Be careful not to overindulge and eat cookies for dinner each night. If you can’t fit in your normal work out at least take some time to walk, meditate or try one of these relaxation techniques. A few minutes a day just for you will make a big difference. And if you can in any way fit in a massage, a movie or just a half hour in a coffee shop you don’t need to justify it, you deserve it!
- Laugh – Comic relief can do wonders. Did you know that laughing activates and relieves your stress response? Watch National Lampoons Christmas Vacation or call a friend who is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. You’ll feel your tension ease up!
- Just say yes – When someone offers to help say yes! This could be anything from offers to run errands, help with caregiving responsibilities or to pick up your kids from school. You can’t do everything on your own and when you try to you are comprising your own physical and mental health. As you’ve heard before and will hear again “you can’t take care of others unless you take care of yourself.”