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November is here, which means the holiday season is quickly approaching. With all of the excitement and festivities the holidays offer, they can be stressful, especially if you’re a caregiver.
Serving as a caregiver to a parent or loved one complicates our daily responsibilities, which is only compounded when the holidays roll around. Juggling everything is stressful and may tempt caregivers to indulge in some of the holidays’ unhealthy behaviors – such as drinking more alcohol, eating more, getting less sleep or exercising less. But there are ways to help cope with the holiday season and find more joy than stress this year.
Give yourself as much lead time as possible for any major holiday milestones – meals, parties or volunteer activities. Make and freeze meals ahead of time whenever possible to allow time to manage any last-minute hiccups that seem to always come with the season. Anticipate your holiday “hot buttons”, and recognize the early signs of stress or burnout so you can find ways to cope.
Cut yourself some slack. During the holidays, it’s easy to find yourself wanting to create the perfect holiday experience for those you love. If you’re a caregiver this year, remind yourself that you have less time, and that’s okay. Find ways to simplify the experience while still enjoying the spirit of the season. Whether it’s hosting a potluck dinner, substituting paper plates for china or scaling back on holiday decorations, find opportunities to simplify the process so you can focus on what’s most meaningful.
With everyone so busy during the holidays, find ways to connect and communicate with loved ones and other caregivers. Online message boards or the Caregivers in the Community (CINC) mobile app are great ways to find support when you need it. And don’t be afraid to ask for help from those closest to you. The holidays are not one person’s responsibility, so find ways to delegate to family members – especially when you’re often surrounded by helping hands. Just remember to communicate early and often to make sure everyone is prepared.
When you’re responsible for the health and wellness of others, it can be easy to put your needs on the bottom of your (seemingly never-ending) to-do list. This natural tendency is magnified during the holidays when self-care is most important. Find ways to incorporate healthy habits into your regular daily activities – staying healthy doesn’t need to be complicated. Whether it’s talking a walk through your neighborhood to see holiday decorations, dancing to holiday music or taking exercise breaks while wrapping presents, try to incorporate exercise into your routine without adding onto your schedule. And find time to check-in on yourself – quiet time to recharge is crucial with so much happening.
Whether it’s your first time as a caregiver this holiday season or not, find ways to connect with your loved ones this season. Making new traditions or reminding yourselves of the old ones will help make this time together special.
These articles present general information and are for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for legal, financial, medical, or other professional advice.