Holiday traditions and family gatherings can be enjoyable ways to wrap up the year. But for many family caregivers, the hustle and bustle of the season can place even more demands on already overbooked schedules.
As a caregiver, what can you do to enjoy the season without feeling overwhelmed?
5 Tips for Managing Caregiver Stress During the Holidays
1. Manage expectations. Caregiving can be a physically and emotionally demanding job. As you head into the holiday season, set realistic expectations for yourself and accept that you may need to give up a few activities this year, and ask for help. If Christmas dinner is always at your house, for example, ask guests to bring a dish to pass instead of trying to do everything yourself.
2. Investigate respite care. Now is the time to talk with local senior living and home care providers about their respite care services. You can use it a few hours or a few days a week to help you enjoy some holiday time away from your caregiving duties.
3. Online shopping. Crowded malls and long check-out lines can make holiday shopping time consuming and stressful. It can be doubly difficult if you need to take your senior loved one with you. This is the time of year when almost all stores offer free or discounted shipping for online purchases. It’s a much easier way to get through your list this year.
4. Take care of you. When we are pressed for time, exercise is often one of the first items on our “To Do” list that gets skipped. Add to that the carbohydrate- and calorie-rich foods most holiday parties serve and the result can be an unhealthy caregiver. Try to eat a healthy meal or snack before attending holiday parties so you aren’t tempted to fill up on bad-for-you foods. Also try to take at least a 15-20 minute walk each day. Both will help keep you healthier this holiday season.
5. Give up the guilt. Caregivers often feel like they don’t measure up because of the many demands on their time. The holiday season only makes those feelings worse. This year, make yourself a promise to give up the guilt and be kind to you.
If you would like to learn more about managing stress during the holidays, visit AARP’s Caregiving Center. They offer advice on topics ranging from recognizing the signs of caregiver burnout to finding joy in newer, simpler traditions.