For caregivers, the holidays can become a more challenging time than other seasons of the year for a variety of reasons. But while family caregiver holiday stress is something many will deal with, there are ways to manage the stress that can help caregivers better enjoy the season.
The first step is realizing you are not alone. Hope Grows offers a host of programs to provide support for family caregivers. Never hesitate to take steps to take care of yourself, especially during the holidays.
Know the Signs of Family Caregiver Holiday Stress
The first step in dealing with family stress is knowing when you are experiencing it. While caregiving is a rewarding job, it can become difficult for even the most resilient people. The Mayo Clinic offers a list of signs of caregiver stress. Keep an eye out for them, especially during the holidays.
- Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
- Often feeling tired
- Either sleeping too much or too little
- Rapidly gaining or losing weight
- Finding yourself easily irritated or angered
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Feeling sad
- Experiencing frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
It’s important to address these symptoms if they persist. Left unchecked, stress can eventually harm your health and lead to experiencing depression and anxiety. Lack of sleep and poor eating habits also lead to worse health problems.
Tips For Dealing With Holiday Stress
The holidays can bring on more stress for different reasons. Caregivers might feel they cannot participate in family events as much as they would like. They may also feel they are not getting the assistance they need from other family members. The following offers some tips to deal with these issues and others.
A Time to Communicate
If there is information you have not had the chance to share with family members, the holidays offer a great chance for communication. This can include information about your loved one’s condition or the amount of time and work it is taking to tend to their needs. Because families typically spend more time together during the holidays, it’s a great time to communicate.
Be Honest About Your Time
Before the holiday season begins, make sure to communicate to family members what you can and cannot do in terms of the holidays. Do not volunteer to host a holiday dinner, for example, if you know it will tax your energy to do so.
Give Yourself a Gift
For the holiday season, give yourself the gift of setting realistic goals. Often, caregivers take on so much and then feel guilty when they cannot do it all. Prioritize what needs to get done, then make a realistic list of daily tasks you know you can achieve. This is especially important during the busy holiday season.
Create a Quiet Space
You will likely need a quiet room for your loved one during the holidays. Try to make arrangements in advance to have a room set aside for them to sit in if the number of people in the house starts to overwhelm them.
Make Your Wishes Known
Ask for what you need during the holidays. This can include getting respite from your caregiving duties, taking some time for yourself. Even if they cannot do this during the holidays, family members might have the ability to do so early in the next year. While family caregiver holiday stress is an issue many deal with, it’s possible to use these ideas to help better manage feelings that can get in the way of you enjoying the holidays. And always remember that help and support is always available at Hope Grows.