It’s a busy and stressful time of year. The holidays. It seems they arrive too soon and are gone too quickly. So much to do – shopping, decorating, wrapping gits – and all of the day-to-day activities and obligations you have. Plus – you’re a caregiver. Caregiving and the holiday season is a formula for stress, with a capital “S.”
If you’re like many other caregivers, increased stress over the holidays visits you every year, sometimes multiple times per year during different holiday seasons, including Thanksgiving.
This holiday season is going to be even more stressful for some caregivers. The pandemic has raised the anxiety levels of tens of millions of Americans. Coupled with the stress of the holidays, many people could use some guidance on how to deal with stress during this holiday season.
Five Tips to Reduce Caregiving Stress During the Holiday Season
We applaud family caregivers. We’ve supported many of them during the holidays and helped them overcome stress. Here are five ways for you to enjoy your holiday season along with your family and the loved one you care for.
1. Don’t try to do everything.
It’s fun to enjoy time-honored family traditions, but maybe just focus on one or two of them.
If you have family visiting during the holidays, don’t hesitate to ask them for help. Often they can prepare a meal, run a few errands, or go for walks with their loved one. If they can’t help, consider professional respite care.
2. Accept complex family dynamics.
Like just about every other family, your family probably hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye. Over the years, this can add to increased tension between some family members. Remain neutral and objective as much as possible; it will help reduce your stress level.
Other family members may criticize some of your caregiving methods. Hear them out, and then respond. They may have a good idea that you can implement to help you with your caregiving responsibilities after they leave.
3. Take care of yourself, too.
If you don’t, you won’t be nearly as effective with your caregiving duties as you want to be. If you can, take some time for yourself. Get some fresh air, enjoy a nice long walk by yourself or with a friend, catch a movie you’ve wanted to see, listen to relaxing music, or meditate.
4. Enjoy some fun time with your family.
Ask your loved one if there is anything they’d like to do during the holidays. It may be something you drive to, like seeing the holiday lights. But, it can also be something you enjoy at home: enjoying old photos, reminiscing, or just playing some games like playing cards or doing jigsaw puzzles. Don’t feel like you have to “go, go, go.”
5. Don’t fight the holiday blues.
It’s natural to think about loved ones you’ve lost or estranged family members during the holidays. If you start to feel depressed, reach out to family members or friends and talk it out. Taking some time to enjoy your favorite hobby can also lower your stress level and help you regain perspective.