5 Tips for Helping Caregivers Manage Holiday Stress

5 Tips for Helping Caregivers Manage Holiday Stress
Family dinners, work parties and neighborhood gatherings are all traditions most people enjoy during the holidays. For weary family caregivers, however, the added demands on an already overstretched schedule can be too much. It can easily turn a favorite time of year into one a family caregiver dreads.

If this scenario sounds all too familiar, there are a few steps you can take that will help you enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season.

5 Tips for Managing Caregiver Stress During the Holidays

  1. Set reasonable expectations: Caregiving is a physically and emotionally demanding role. This year promise yourself that you will set realistic expectations for the holidays. Accept that you can’t do it all on your own. If it is your turn to host the neighborhood cocktail party, for example, keep it simple and ask for help. Your peers will likely understand and be happy to pitch in.
  2. Be kind to yourself: Caregivers are often very hard on themselves. Because they juggle so many responsibilities, they often feel like they don’t do a very good job with any of them. The guilt and self-doubt can create an added layer of stress. This year, resolve to stop the negative self-talk and be kind to yourself.
  3. Explore local respite services: Many of your local senior living communities offer respite care services that can help you manage the added demands of the holiday season. This year, give yourself the gift of time by utilizing respite a few hours a week. It will give your senior loved one a chance to meet new people and participate in the community’s life enrichment activities.
  4. Shop smarter: Avoid crowded malls and all the stress holiday shopping creates by taking advantage of online shopping. Gift cards are another avenue to make the holidays easier. It might not be the way you want to handle your shopping every year, but it can make life easier when you are a caregiver.
  5. Mind your own health: The holidays are known for being a time to eat too much and exercise too little. Both can leave you feeling even more tired and sluggish. Instead, try to eat healthy and skip or limit the carb-heavy, sugary treats. Taking a brisk walk each day-- indoors or out—will also help.

If you would like to learn more about managing caregiver stress there are several organizations that can help. The Family Caregiver Alliance and AARP’s Caregiving Center offer a variety of resources to help busy caregivers cope.