As every busy caregiver knows, when the hustle and bustle of the holiday season arrives, it does not necessarily mean that your days are full of cheer. Caregiving is already a labor of love that often takes up most of your time, and with the added stress of attending holiday events and entertaining out-of-town guests, this time of the year can be downright overwhelming for many caregivers.
When the holidays seem like they are causing more stress than happiness in your life, here are a few tips and reminders to get you through the remainder of the year.
All caregivers know that having a plan B in place is a necessity, especially if your loved one has specific needs that have to be met on a regular basis. When dealing with those who suffer from dementia or other chronic illnesses, there may be days or times when plans need to be canceled or adjusted to provide comfort to your loved one. Remembering to make multiple plans may seem like one more task, but it will end up saving you time and energy when you are able to move into the next plan with ease.
Simplify Holiday Activities
One thing that is easy to do and can lessen your stress load is to simplify your holiday routine. This can be something small like not decorating the whole house or limiting your commitment to bake for family gatherings. It’s important to prioritize what needs to be done and what activities are in the best interest of your loved one, but cut out some of the optional stuff that only clogs your calendar and leaves you feeling drained.
Identify Stressors and Pay Attention to Your Moods
Caregivers are giving themselves to someone else all year round, so it can be stressful to think that there are other people or activities that you must give to during this time. It’s important to pay attention to which activities and people create additional emotional stress in your life. If you are feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, or frozen like you can’t do anything, it’s OK to take a step back and take time for yourself. Focus on the major stressors, and work toward eliminating them if possible. Step back from family drama, and take some time to meditate or do yoga if you feel that this would create more happiness during this time of year.
The holidays are a great time to directly communicate your caregiving situation and needs to others who may be feeling more generous. Explain to family members why you have to decline their invitation due to the condition of your loved one, and also communicate with them ways that they can help you during this time. Maybe all you need is just a few hours in the afternoon to do something for yourself, but others may not know how to help you. Perhaps through the spirit of giving, you will be granted your wish from close friends or family if you let them know your needs.
Ask For Help
If you are feeling overwhelmed with caregiving and holiday duties, sometimes the best medicine is speaking to people who are in your position and who can empathize with you. It may be helpful to join a support group or message board for those who are also caregivers. Ask friends and family for their support during this time, and if you need additional assistance, reach out to us at 24/7 Nursing Care. We can provide professional companions or nursing staff to assist you with any needs related to caregiving in your own home. No task is too big! We look forward to making your holidays a little more cheerful!
Goyer, A. (n.d.). Managing Caregiver Stress and Burnout During the Holidays. Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/info-12-2013/caregiving-holiday-stress-goyer.html