Caregiving during the holidays can be particularly challenging as this often adds more stress and strong emotions can emerge. There are common challenges that caregivers can face during the holiday season and we would like to offer you some tips on how to find more joy and understanding during this busy time. During the holiday season there are many time constraints, energy demands, emotional events, and financial strains that add increased stress. Feelings of isolation may occur, as navigating and balancing family traditions can be more challenging, and you may neglect your own self-care. To help with the increasing stress during the holidays, it is important to seek support, be flexible, express gratitude, and to have self-compassion.
Caregivers already have demanding schedules and the holidays add more time and energy constraints with the added extra tasks and responsibilities. Caregivers can also have increased emotional toll during this time as the holidays can bring up feelings of sadness or nostalgia. The financial strain during this time can be difficult to cope with as holiday expenses can increase financial stress in caregivers. In order to manage stress during the holidays, try to:
- Prioritize self-care.
- Set realistic expectations.
- Delegate other tasks to your support network to help lighten the load.
- Acknowledge your emotions: taking time for to feel and process your emotions is particularly important during the holidays.
- Create a budget for holiday spending and consider reaching out to local organizations for assistance.
With increasing responsibilities, isolation is a common feeling during this time and so it is important to stay connected with loved ones. Video calls can be a great way to stay in touch and celebrate virtually. You can also arrange respite care to give yourself a break.
Balancing family traditions can be challenging especially if they conflict with caregiving. Some tips on balancing family traditions are to communicate with your family about the responsibilities that you have and to find alternative ways to celebrate traditions. Disregarding your own self-care is a challenge during this time and so it is important to take breaks, engage in relaxation techniques and maintain a healthy routine.
Further, to find more joy and understanding during the holidays it is important to focus on positive aspects of caregiving and the holiday season. Express gratitude for the moments you can share with your loved one. Be open to adjusting your expectations and embrace the imperfections and moments that can bring you joy. Remember to alwaysreach out and ask for help from your support people around you and connect with other caregivers who can relate to your experiences. Be specific about what you need. Most importantly, be kind to yourself and recognize that it is okay to experience difficult emotions as you are doing important and challenging work. Also, try incorporating new traditions into your celebrations. New traditions can create meaningful and positive experiences for both you and your loved one.
Remember that caregiving can be emotionally and physically demanding, and it’s important to take care of yourself during the holidays. Finding joy and understanding often begins with self-compassion and effective communication with those around you. Give yourself grace and treat yourself with kindness and patience. Wishing you all the best during this holiday season.
-Kaitlyn Cummings BSN, RN & The Sanford Center Wellness Team