Help for Family Caregivers: Managing Holiday Stress

three generations

Managing holiday stress can be difficult for family caregivers, but these tips can help.

For many families the holidays are a time of love, togetherness, and, yes, stress. Everyone wants to participate in the magic of the season, but let’s face it – decking the halls can be downright daunting! The hustle and bustle of shopping, wrapping, parties, and children’s school events, while fun and exciting, can take a toll on even the jolliest among us. Add caring for an elderly loved one to the mix, and the stress of this time of year can become overwhelming.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to manage holiday stress so that you and the senior in your life can celebrate the season with joy and laughter. These tips will help family caregivers learn how to get better at managing holiday stress and allow them to enjoy the time with family and friends:

  1. Concentrate on what is meaningful. The holidays come but once a year, and often we feel pressured to create the perfect, magical experience for our families. But when caring for a senior loved one with health issues or limited mobility, attending every party or tree lighting just isn’t possible. Instead, focus on what makes this time of year meaningful. Perhaps baking with the family gathered together in the kitchen warms your heart. Or maybe just sitting around the fire watching your favorite holiday movies brings a smile. Remember, the holidays don’t have to be hectic to be magical.
  2. Simplify, simplify, simplify! From hauling out boxes of decorations to hosting dinner parties to rushing to our children’s functions and religious services to making sure Mom gets to her doctor’s appointments to shopping and baking round the clock, most of us have a lot on our plates this time of year. Simplifying your holiday can take a huge load off of your shoulders. Instead of going all out with the decorations, choose a few meaningful pieces to display or pay someone to put your lights up for you. Instead of writing and mailing greeting cards, consider e-cards instead. Again, choose the traditions that mean the most to you, and downsize the rest.
  3. Create new traditions. When a loved one is no longer able to participate in the holidays like he or she once was, it can make everyone feel a bit down. However, instead of focusing on what you can’t do, think about all the new traditions you can start. If a loved one can no longer travel, video chat with family and friends across the country. Hop in the car and drive to look at lights. Start a holiday movie night tradition or watch old home movies of past holiday gatherings.
  4. Take the stress out of meals. Meals around the holidays are a big deal for many families. Food traditions often get passed down through the generations. However, creating big, traditional meals is a lot of work. Consider simplifying mealtimes by cutting out some sides, splitting up grocery shopping between families, having a potluck meal where each guest brings a dish, or even going to a restaurant.
  5. Anticipate holiday-related stressors. It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but that doesn’t mean the holidays are without conflict. As people gather together, consider any triggering events that might arise and plan to avoid them. Many older adults feel a sense of loss around the holidays, especially if spouses or close friends have died. Getting together with certain relatives can bring up old conflicts. Reduce the drama by either avoiding these get togethers or planning for a quick visit with a firm exit strategy.
  6. Don’t skip the self-care. The best gift family caregivers can give themselves for the holidays is the gift of self-care. Tune in to your body this season and make sure you’re picking up on your own feelings and needs. Indulge in seasonal treats, but don’t forget the mental health boost that exercise can give you, especially when you’re feeling down or overwhelmed. Find moments to meditate and quiet your mind. Have an outing just for yourself or get a coffee and chat with friends. Remember, as a caregiver, you give and give throughout the year. Doing something for yourself is not selfish; it’s essential!
  7. Ask for help. A big part of self-care is asking for help, and the holidays are a wonderful time to get the help you need. Whether you need assistance with household chores, holiday shopping, meal prep, or caring for your loved one, an extra set of hands can greatly reduce stress and help you have a jollier holiday!

For those in need of assistance managing holiday stress this time of year, Visiting Care Giving Services, experts in home care in O’Fallon, MO, are here to help. Our highly-trained in-home care staff can help family caregivers and the seniors they love find balance this holiday season. From planning and preparing healthy meals to running errands and so much more, our team can provide the respite care needed for family caregivers to ensure they can take a break for much needed self-care. Contact us today at (636) 493-9058 to learn more about our services and to schedule a free in-home assessment. Visit our Service Area page for a full list of the communities in which we provide care.