The holidays are a stressful time for most people, so it’s understandable that many caregivers go through heightened levels of stress during this period. From dealing with insensitive relatives visiting to trying to juggle the responsibilities of caregiving and getting ready for the holidays, things can feel overwhelming during the festive period.
Yet it’s a time to celebrate with friends and family, so it’s important that caregivers’ slow things down and try not to be overloaded with all the stresses and anxieties that can rear their head during this time of the year.
Here are some tips for making the holidays more memorable and less stressful!
Keep Things Simple by Doing Less
Don’t feel pressured to go all out for the holidays this year. Despite what you might see on television, the holidays aren’t about having the best decorations, the biggest tree, or the lavish multi-course meal – it’s about sharing a positive feeling of joy and celebrating with people you love most.
This means you don’t need to go crazy with decorations, buying lots of gifts, or making all the food! Keep things simple by going easy on the holiday decor, not worrying about sending dozens of cards, and enjoying a modest meal with a few loved ones.
Not only does this give you more time to relax and unwind during a highly stressful time, it’s likely beneficial for your caregiving abilities, letting you focus on the things that matter most.
Create New Holiday Traditions
One big issue that seniors deal with is no longer being able to celebrate holiday traditions. Often down to physical limitations, they can’t do the things that made the holidays so special, which in turn can make the festivities a little less enjoyable for them.
Rather than letting them focus on past traditions, you can start some new ones that will give them something to enjoy each holiday. It can be anything really, such as going to a particular service, watching a big parade on television, having a festive movie night, or even just helping them put up the tree with a few people.
Avoiding the Holiday Drama
While the holidays are a great chance to catch up with friends and family, it also means meeting with family that may not be on the best of terms.
As a caregiver, dealing with insensitive or unhelpful family members that pass judgement or show a lack of consideration to your situation can be incredibly trying, so consider limiting your interactions with anyone that might be involved in holiday drama.
Granted, seeing less of people during the holidays can be difficult, so if you are going to interact with people that might increase stress or anger during the holidays, try to prepare for this in the best way possible.
For instance, avoid trying to be peacekeeper or mend broken fences between two strained relatives. If things are tense with yourself and someone else then try not to instigate an argument (avoiding alcohol helps!) and limit how much time you spend with them.
Good mental well-being is an essential factor for good caregiving, so always try to avoid situations during the holidays that may impact this. Don’t let anyone else’s negativity brush off on you!
You Can’t Always Improve Their Mood
Caregiving can a be a thankless task in many situations. Seniors dealing with severe illnesses may not recognize all the efforts you are putting in making the holidays memorable for them, so try not to let this bring you down.
The holidays can bring up painful memories and feelings of loss and grief for many elderly people, so if they are struggling to get into a positive mood over the festive period don’t think it’s a reflection of the amount of care or effort you are making.
At the end of the day, you are trying your best to bring them joy and celebration – it might not improve their mood or mindset but you aren’t to blame for this at all.
Don’t Forget About Yourself
With so many extra responsibilities and things to worry about during the holidays, it’s easy to overlook self-care. However, it’s important to realise that you need time for yourself during the holidays, otherwise you’re only going to feel more stressed and burnt out, and this is never good for caregiving.
There’s going to be a lot of emotional highs and lows over this period, so any time you are beginning to feel the stress build, take a moment for yourself. Do whatever helps you relax and recharge the batteries!
Get a relative that is visiting to help with the caregiving so you can get the afternoon off to watch a few festive movies or catch up on shopping. Have a relaxing evening with a bit of mulled wine or eggnog and enjoy a few holiday treats or even go a for a nice refreshing morning walk (the sun will work wonders on your mood) – anything that helps you feel better and ready to take on the holidays