Providing care for someone else, regardless if it is full-time or occasionally, can really tap a person’s energy. It can create an incredible amount of stress for a caregiver and keep you from enjoying yourself during the holiday season. Your job as a caregiver is important and you should invest a few minutes for your own physical and emotional well-being.
Even though we have all read holiday stress tips before, we encourage you to read through this list we’ve compiled to find one or two that might give you a few well-deserved moments of recuperation.
- Have guests come to the home of the person you are caring for (or your home if you are providing care there). This will reduce caregiver stress for you both by keeping festivities in a familiar environment and reduce the stress of traveling.
- Have a potluck meal instead of having to cook everything yourself. Family and friends will probably be excited about contributing to the holiday meal and it can really reduce your stress. Also, don’t invite everyone you know. Keeping the number of people lower will reduce the noise and help reduce the stress level.
- Think about positive things. There are any number of things at odds for your time and attention during a day. It is easy to get bogged down physically and emotionally. Take time to think about the good things in your life; a phone call from a friend, the smiles of your children or even how much you love playing with kittens. It all helps pull you up by your bootstraps and brightens your day.
- Make sure everyone knows about any limitations the person you are caring for has before they arrive. This will prepare everyone and help minimize frustration or embarrassment.
- Ask for assistance. Again, most people are happy to do something; even if it is small. Taking advantage of their generosity means only asking. You don’t have to do everything yourself.
- Let gifts contribute to caregiving. If someone asks what kind of gift to bring, suggest something practical, such as frozen foods, gift certificates or even “I owe you’s” for running errands or shopping.
- Keep it bright! Keeping your home bright with natural sunlight or sufficient lighting will boost your spirit during the gloomy days of Winter.
- Don’t fall prey to not being active. Sure, you have many things you have to get done, but do some things you love, as well. Work on a personal project you’ve been ‘meaning to get to’, go outside and enjoy the beauty of Winter, play a game with the grandkids or work a few puzzles. Whatever you do, keep your mind busy and don’t keep to yourself too much.
- Reach out to your family and friends. Nothing takes a bite out of stress like a conversation with a friend or loved one.
- Eat the right food for the right reasons. Keep your diet balanced during the holidays to improve energy and your state of mind. Stay away from too many fatty or carb-loaded foods, and take it easy on the alcohol during festivities. Let yourself enjoy the holiday table; just do it in moderation.
- Be flattered, don’t over commit. Plan on attending events or celebrations that mean the most to you. Learn to say, “Thank you, but I can’t.” Committing to too much will increase stress levels and get you off track.
- Give the gift to yourself of ‘guilt free’. If you are providing care for a loved one you deserve a little happiness and joy during the holidays as well. No one can begrudge you this and it is yours for the taking. Find your moments of joy. If you start feeling guilty, give yourself a some positive affirmations of how hard you work out of love and you deserve a little respite.
- Make a good holiday plan ahead of time. Contact guests, plan meals and shop way before the company arrives. This will give you more time to take short breaks during the holiday season.
- Sincere gift giving to those important to you or the one you are caring for are easy. Heartfelt thank you notes, gift certificates are perfect for just about everyone.
- Take a break. Have a friend or paid caregiver come in for an afternoon while you go out and do something nice for yourself. Have a massage, take a long walk or have coffee with a friend.
- Traditions from traditions. If there are any traditions that are hard to keep because of your situation, get creative! Figure out ways to build new traditions similar (or totally different) than your old ones. It can be a lot of fun.
Most of all, take a moment of quiet for yourself to be thankful. We all have something to be thankful for; think about the blessings you have in your life. Your grandchildern’s smiles, the hand of a friend, food on the table, a home, love … for everyone it will be different. Find that place in your heart that feels thrilled with something good and stay for a moment. (Repeat often.)