How Can Caregivers Reduce Stress During the Holidays?

 The holidays can be a joyful time where families and friends gather together for festivities, traditions and sharing gratitude over delicious food.
But for many the holidays also bring stress— an already busy caregiver finds there’s even more to do during the holidays.
From preparing a meal to running a loved one to medical appointments, caregivers may find themselves spread thin.
It’s okay to give yourself a bit of a break and enjoy the little moments in life.

Here are some tips to help you make it through the holiday season:

1. Focus on what is most meaningful. We may intend to create the perfect holiday experience but there are many factors we can’t control when it comes to our loved one’s health and abilities. Prioritize activities that hold the deepest meaning and create memories.

2. Simplify your holiday activities. Keep your schedule realistic. Choose one activity that means the most, delegate tasks and adjust the location or timing of the holiday get-together to accommodate all involved.

3. Start new traditions. Rather than focusing on what you aren’t able to do this year, try something new that all family members can do together.

4. Adjust meals. Caregivers often feel exhausted after preparing a holiday meal, so much so that they can’t enjoy it. Simplify what you are serving, delegate grocery shopping or visit a restaurant instead.

5. Approach gift-giving more efficiently. Shop online, use gift cards, delegate shopping or give the gift of time.

6. Anticipate holiday hot buttons. Grief or loss over family issues inevitably flare up at gatherings. Limit your exposure to these triggers by avoiding certain conversations or places, minimize drama and focus on family time instead of resolving issues.

7.  Mind your mindset. Don’t focus on the negative. Remain positive in every situation—appreciate the little accomplishments in your day.

8. Keep self-care at the top of the list. Giving and giving and then giving more during the holidays leads to feelings of fatigue and burnout. In order to successfully care about others, you must first take care of yourself. Find ways to attend to your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health such as exercise, using aromatherapy or listening to your favorite music.

9. Connect with other caregivers. Caregivers often find themselves feeling alone, buried beneath their responsibilities. Join a support group and share your emotions, challenges and solutions with people who are experiencing the same journey and can understand what you’re going through.

10. Ask for help. Don’t try to accomplish everything on your own. Family and friends can help with holiday preparations, running errands and cleaning the house. Use community resources like Tabitha’s respite care or Tabitha Home Health aides to assist with the direct care of your loved one.

Adapted from AARP.org

This health tip is brought to you by Tabitha, your answer for Senior Care in 28 Nebraska counties.
 To learn more, visit us at Tabitha.org, or call 800-487-3484 or 402-873-7047.
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