The holidays for many caregivers are a season of joy and excitement - an opportunity to spend extra time with family in celebration. A season where you can embrace tradition and invite a touch of magic to break the humdrum of our normal routines. While there are fun ways to explore the joy of this season, for many caregivers, it can also become the most stressful time of the year. Family caregiving during the holiday season amidst a global pandemic can be an overwhelming situation, especially when you have the responsibility of a high-risk individual in your care. Today we’re going to explore 5 ways to get more happiness and less stress out of the holiday season.
5 Ways to Enjoy this Holiday Season as a Caregiver
Simplify your plans. One of the most overwhelming things about the holiday season is the number of obligations or commitments we end up with, many of them are self-imposed. If the idea of going all out for the holidays this year sends a shiver down your spine, take a deep breath and prioritize. You can have a perfect holiday without “doing it all.” Focus on what matters most to you this holiday season and prioritize meaning over perfection. You may find a night driving around to look at neighborhood lights brings you and the loved one in your care just as much joy as lights on your own house. Or a virtual get-together may feel as meaningful as an in-person one.
Adjust your meal. Gathering around a feast is one of our most cherished holiday traditions. But this year, why not simplify the menu? If you’re having a small gathering, you can make it potluck style and have your guests bring some of their favorite dishes. If you’re staying home this year, try reducing the number of dishes. Make one dessert (or get a store-bought dessert) instead of an array of choices. Cook two side dishes (the absolute favorites!) instead of 4. These are just a few of the many ways to reduce the mealtime stress this holiday season.
Start a new tradition. If your loved one won’t be able to celebrate the holidays in the same way they normally would, maybe it’s time to create an entirely new tradition. Instead of focusing on what has been lost, try something different. Try decorating store-bought cookies or gingerbread homes, finding a new favorite holiday movie, or painting ornaments together. There are many fun ways to enjoy the holidays - above all, make sure they are meaningful for you and your loved one in a way that fits their current energy.
Keep self-care in mind. As a caregiver, you may find it difficult to turn your focus on yourself, but it’s important to remember that you matter too. You are used to giving your time and energy, and during the holidays that innate caring/giving nature may bump into overdrive. Don’t let yourself hit the burnout phase - as the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Take the time you need to take care of yourself too. Ask for help when you need it, accept it when it’s offered, and get some time to yourself. Spend time outside, read a book, take a soothing bubble bath, meet a friend for coffee, walk around a tree farm to take in the pine scent, or have an extra cookie all to yourself. You deserve to take time out and absolutely should this holiday season.
Consider joining a caregiver support or Facebook group. As we’ve touched on, this season is full of added challenges. Finding a support group in your area of Orange County or a local Facebook group of caregivers near you can be a place to release steam, find a community, and ask questions. We have an article with ideas on where to look to find that community here for you. It takes a village to care for a loved one, so if you’re trying to handle it all on your own you will undoubtedly feel overwhelmed. You are never alone on this caregiving journey.
For additional tips, please review our latest tip video:
You are invited to check out our free resources for family caregivers by clicking here or give us a call at 800-543-8312 to find out more about how we can support you through and beyond the holiday season.