Caregiving can be emotionally consuming and physically demanding any day of the year. Add the stress of the holiday season to it, and caregivers become even more vulnerable, often falling into unhealthy behaviors, like eating unhealthy food, drinking too much alcohol, and not exercising enough.
The good news is that there are ways caregivers can get through the holiday season with less stress and more joy. If you usually overextend yourself over the holidays, we hope that our tips will help you juggle caregiving and the holidays comfortably.
1. Accept Your Limitations
It’s often difficult to accept that we have limits, both mentally and physically. We try to do it all, but this can lead to burnout or a health crisis. According to a survey, caregivers are 61% more likely to suffer from back pain than their non-caregiving peers, while being 63% are more likely to have high blood pressure.
Be realistic about what you can do and plan for the holiday season accordingly. Caregivers who push themselves too hard and end up with a health crisis won’t do anybody any favors— not themselves and certainly not the senior under their care. Remember, you are human, not a superhuman.
2. Prioritize and Be Flexible
If you usually host your family’s New Year’s Eve celebration, maybe this year could be someone else’s turn to take over the responsibility. Otherwise, tone down the celebration a bit; instead of having a large party inviting the whole neighborhood, rather have a small gathering with only the closest friends and family.
Discuss with the seniors in your care which days are the most important to them and focus on those. Celebrating only the most meaningful days in simple ways will help you avoid crazy schedules and decrease your stress levels.
3. Ask for Help
Family caregivers may want to hire a professional caregiver to help out on busy days, or family members can lend a hand to give caregivers a break.
Family and friends can also help with chores, shopping, and running errands. When someone offers to help you out, say yes. You’ve worked hard this year; you deserve a break! You can also join an online support group where you can relieve some of your stress and get advice on how to handle trying days when you need it.
4. Schedule Time to Exercise
Exercise is an instant mood booster. Maybe you already feel overwhelmed with everything you need to do and think there’s no time to get active, but exercise is important for your physical and emotional health.
If your time is limited, a good option is to go for a quick run or walk around the block. Another idea is to exercise to a workout DVD, such as a yoga class. Even little bursts of exercise will help to reduce your stress levels and leave you feeling rejuvenated.
5. Ramp up Your Self-Care
Caregivers always need to take care of themselves, but even more so over the holidays. Increase the time you spend on self-care during this period, even if it means you need to say no to doing some non-essential tasks you wanted to tick off your list.
A walk in the park, socializing with friends, going for aromatherapy, or spending some time in the sun soaking up mood elevating Vitamin D are all good options. We also need stress-free outlets, like watching a funny movie or writing in a journal every day.
6. Healthy Eating
When eating healthy, you will feel healthier with more energy. Sugar is best avoided as it can cause a rush and sudden crash. Keeping healthy snacks on hand will help keep you going, and you’ll be less tempted to dive into unhealthy pies and candy.
7. A Holiday Faux Pas to Avoid
People have different beliefs and care about different holidays. Some like to celebrate Thanksgiving, and others celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah. Disagreeing over which days to celebrate can lead to unnecessary stress. Caregivers need to put the needs of the seniors in their care first when it comes to choosing which days to celebrate – you can always celebrate the days you care about in your personal time.
We hope that these tips will help you have a stress-free and pleasurable holiday season. Take care of yourself and reach out whenever you need help. Our caregivers at Alegre Home Care are always there to assist you with whatever obstacles you are facing.