With all the shopping, decorating, and entertaining involved, the holiday season can be a stressful time of year no matter how organized you might be. Toss in the added responsibilities of serving as an informal caregiver, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as your stress level gets ratcheted up to the breaking point. Thankfully, there are positive ways to minimize caregiver stress during the holidays so you can enjoy the festivities along with everyone else – starting with those that follow.
Caregiver Stress Warning Signs
Often referred to as “Caregiver Stress Syndrome,” these are the classic warning signs that you need to start focusing on your health as a family caregiver:
- Sleep deprivation
- Anxiety and depression
- Difficulty performing simple tasks
- Rapid weight gain or weight loss
- Postponing or completely ignoring medical appointments
- Substance abuse
- Not exercising enough
- Poor eating habits
- Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Social isolation and loneliness
Ignoring these signs any time of year – most notably during the holidays – won’t make them go away. If allowed to persist, caregiver stress will eventually lower the quality of life of you and your care recipient.
Holiday Stress-Relief Tips for Tired Caregivers
Here’s how to enjoy a more joyous and festive holiday season this year while caring for family and friends:
Set realistic caregiving goals
Although it’s not easy to accept, no matter how hard you try, your loved one’s condition will eventually worsen. Rather than allowing yourself to get overwhelmed, prioritize your daily tasks and focus on the most important ones — like getting Dad to help you decorate the tree. After all, you’re only human, and even Santa Claus takes an occasional break!
Avoid poor lifestyle choices
If you’re sick in bed (again) because you’re not taking care of yourself, start making some positive lifestyle changes. Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, and avoid unhealthy habits like smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol to excess. Get a complete physical every year, and don’t ignore your other medical appointments.
Journal your daily experiences
Another way to emotionally decompress is by keeping a daily caregiving journal. Use it to record both positive and negative experiences that you are going through — like the fact you were able to get Dad out of the house for some much-needed exercise. When you’re having a bad day, go back and relive the good moments and focus on how your efforts are making a difference.
Be sure to reward yourself
Not everyone has what it takes to be a successful caregiver. Reward yourself for a job well done by doing something you enjoy every week. Use your scheduled downtime to learn a new hobby, go Christmas caroling, or just spend a few hours curled up on the couch binge-watching your favorite holiday movies. Whatever you decide to do, don’t feel guilty for taking a break from your caregiving duties.
Schedule some “me” time
Find time to participate in healthy stress-relieving activities like walking, swimming, cycling, or Yoga three to five times per week. Treat yourself at least once a month to a spa day or date with your significant other. Seek professional counseling if negative feelings like anxiety and depression are keeping you from feeling “merry” or “jolly.”
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Asking for help around the holidays doesn’t make you a Grinch. Stay positive by seeking relief through community volunteers, family members, friends, or a meal delivery or senior transportation service. Another option at your disposal is hiring a professional respite caregiver from a reputable home care provider.
An Extended Family in Your Loved One’s Home
When you’re ready to take a well-deserved break – or “respite” – any time of year, put your mind at ease by contacting the caring professionals from Home Instead® of Senior Care. Conveniently available in Naples, Fort Myers, and Charlotte County, FL, our senior care services help to enhance the aging experience by providing practical support at home delivered with a human touch.
Our reliable in-home solutions help aging adults stay engaged in everyday life with tailor-made support to stay safe and well at home. At Home Instead, it is always our mission to provide a care plan personalized to your family’s needs – bringing you all comfort, companionship, and peace of mind. To learn more or schedule a time to talk with one of our home care specialists, please visit us at www.homeinsteadswfl.com.