The holidays should be a joyous and festive time of year filled with good food, family, and friends. But when you’re an informal caregiver who’s looking after an aging-in-place loved one, the holiday season can elevate your stress level to the breaking point. Finding healthy ways to decompress while juggling caregiving with the holidays takes planning and preparation. Following these stress-relief tips for caregiving will help ensure that this holiday season is one that you will fondly remember for many years to come.
Signs of Holiday Caregiving Stress
Just like any other time of year, caregiver stress can sneak up on you during the holidays when you least expect it. So that you are better prepared, here are the classic warning signs that your stress level is getting dangerously high:
- Feeling sad all the time
- Feeling worried, hopeless, or overwhelmed
- Losing interest in activities once enjoyed
- Feeling tired throughout the day
- Sleeping too much or not sleeping enough
- Gaining or losing weight
- Becoming easily irritated or angry
- Having frequent headaches, bodily pain, or other physical problems
- Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications
If not adequately addressed, caregiver stress can cause serious health problems that place both you and your care recipient at risk.
Holiday Caregiving Stress Management Tips
Preventing caregiving stress during the holiday season is possible by taking these steps:
Set realistic goals
You’re only human, after all, so baking cookies for your child’s holiday school program may have to wait until next year. Prioritize your responsibilities into smaller “chunks” that you can realistically accomplish without getting overwhelmed.
Learn to say “no” without feeling guilty. For example, tell mom that you’ll take her gift shopping next week because you don’t want to miss your high schooler’s holiday concert. Better yet, offer to bring your mother along so she can see her grandchild perform!
Although it’s often easier-said-than-done, try to get things ready before your company arrives. Ways to plan ahead for holiday gatherings include:
- Preparing plenty of food beforehand and freezing it
- Purchasing gift cards for last-minute gifts
- Stocking up on extra groceries in case family and friends stop by unannounced
- Politely asking someone else to host a gathering at their home instead of yours, or by suggesting potluck dinners, so you don’t have to do all the cooking.
Scale back family traditions
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment while trying to keep up with family traditions like decorations and formal dinners. When time is short and patience running thin, don’t let yourself fall into that trap. Lighten your load by focusing on some of the more important traditions and ask your kids and elderly loved ones to pitch in.
Here are some holiday activities that multi-generational family members can enjoy together:
- Baking and decorating cookies and pastries
- Wrapping gifts
- Putting up holiday lights
- Decorating the tree
- Polishing up the nice silverware
Practice healthy habits
Keep yourself recharged and refreshed by:
- Exercising regularly
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Eating a healthy diet
- Not abusing alcohol or drugs
- Joining a caregiver support group
Take a caregiving break
When you first start to feel holiday stress coming on, take a break. Here are some possible sources of relief so that your aging loved one will still get the care they deserve until you’re ready to resume your duties:
- Trusted family members, friends, and neighbors
- Community volunteers that work with the elderly
- Senior transportation services
- Meal delivery services
- Adult daycare
- A respite caregiver from a licensed home care agency
Flexible In-Home Respite Care for Seniors and Their Families
Caring for an aging loved one during the holidays can be challenging when you’re busy or live far away. At First In Care, our compassionate caregivers can step in and provide your senior with the care and companionship they deserve. While serving as an extended family in your loved one’s home, our highly trained professionals understand what’s required to maintain a client’s quality of life, along with their dignity and self-esteem.
In addition to respite care uniquely tailored to your family’s needs, First In Care also provides in-home support for other daily living activities like personal hygiene, light housework, medication reminders, and transportation. Our senior caregiving services are affordable, flexible, and always delivered in a seamless package that restores your peace of mind. To learn more now about our private home health and concierge services in Bradenton and Manatee County, Florida, please visit www.firstincare.com.