How to Reduce Caregiver Stress During the Holidays

Being a caregiver already comes with a significant amount of stress on a daily basis. Add holidays to the mix and a caregiver’s stress level can go through the roof. However, if you are a caregiver, there are some effective ways you can reduce tension during the holidays.

Tips to Reduce Holiday Stress

Scale down plans. Give yourself a much-needed break and reduce and simplify your usual holiday activities. Order a prepared turkey or ham, with all the trimmings, from your local grocer. Reduce or eliminate gift giving. Only purchase presents for children in the family. Scale back on decorating your home or don’t put any decorations up at all.

Permission to say no. It’s ok to turn down invitations during the holidays or decline requests from family members or friends. Saying no to people can be difficult. Still, for a caregiver, even the simplest tasks may seem like a heavy burden. Practice saying no before someone asks you for something so you won’t be caught off guard. Be polite, but firm and assertive. For example, “No, I won’t be able to make cookies for the school holiday concert but I hope it goes well.” At the same time, allow yourself to participate in some holiday events so you don’t feel like you are missing out on all the fun and festivities.

Ask for help.  Don’t be reluctant to ask friends or other family members for help during the holidays. Furthermore, be specific in your requests so others will know what is expected of them. For example, “Can you come over and sit with my mom Friday night between 6 and 9 so I can go to my neighbor’s Christmas party?

Hire a paid caregiver. Hire a home health aide or caregiver/personal assistant a few hours a week to give yourself a break during the holidays. The average cost of home health is $15 to $25 per hour depending on location. Check with friends for a reference, ask around a parent’s assisted living facility for recommendations, or go through a home health care agency.

Practice self-care. During the holidays it is especially important to take care of your own mental and physical health. Exercise several times a week by either going to the gym or taking a walk. Exercise will boost your mood and your body will release serotonin and endorphins, those feel good hormones. Get a 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, eat nutritious meals, and don’t miss your doctor’s appointments. Do an activity that you enjoy and which relaxes you whether it’s writing in a journal, reading, practicing yoga, or meditation.

Use respite care. Respite care offers a temporary place for people with chronic medical conditions to stay (usually for a few days/weeks.) This is a great option for a caregiver to rest, take care of personal business, or travel. Many assisted living/skilled care facilities offer respite care, however, don’t wait until the last-minute. These beds fill up quickly especially during the holiday season.

Look for the positive. Practice gratitude and focus on the positive aspects of your situation. Your loved one may not be the same person but you can still experience moments of joy with each other and create new holiday memories and traditions.


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