It's no secret that the holiday season is a stressful season. Shopping, decorating, cooking and gatherings can be overwhelming. Family caregivers can be especially stressed by the demands of caregiving during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
If you are caring for an aging parent in Illinois, Michigan or Ohio, you are already placing the needs of others before your own. Trying to fulfill the wishes of children, preserve traditions and create a perfect holiday can leave you feeling even more stressed and weary.
Here are 5 steps you can take to manage unhealthy stress and make the holidays more enjoyable:
- Trim the to-do list: Taking time to consider what holiday activities and preparations can be put aside and which is a must. Make a real effort to reduce the number of tasks and amount of work you do to celebrate the season.
Are you willing to serve finger foods on decorative paper plates instead of a five-course meal on your grandmother's china? How important is it that the yard is decorated? Can you take this year off? Do you really need to make 10-dozen cut-out cookies for the bake sale? Establishing realistic expectations can help reduce holiday stress.
- Put self-care at the top of your holiday list:Caregivers typically make time for others by neglecting their own care. As a gift to yourself, make more time for you.
- Commit to eating healthy foods.
- Work exercise into your schedule. The Caregiver's Library offers some great tips for exercising while caregiving.
- Make a date with your spouse. Go to dinner or simply go for a walk in the park together.
- Meet a friend for coffee or lunch. Talking about your caregiving experiences can be a great stress reliever.
- Focus on saving time saving strategies: If there is one thing that family caregivers need more of, it is time. To free you from days of baking and cooking in the kitchen, you might consider trying a potluck for this year's Christmas or Hanukkah feast. You could also order your meal from a restaurant or grocery store. Remember, just because you don't cook this year doesn't mean you can't go back to it next year when life may be calmer.
- Shop smarter: Shopping can be one of the most frustrating holiday tasks. If you are the primary caregiver for an aging parent, you will likely be doing their gift buying, too. Try skipping the stores this year and shopping online. Opt for gift cards or movie tickets that don't require boxes, gift wrap and ribbon.
- Take a break: Regular breaks from caregiving are a must throughout the year. Randall Residence communities in the Midwest offer respite care or short-stays for seniors that can give caregivers some much needed time off. Leaving your loved one with experienced caregivers might allow you to visit out-of-town family members or to wind down and recharge after the holidays.
A brief stay in a respite-care environment also helps your aging parent become comfortable in an assisted-living or memory-care community. If the time should come that they can no longer safely live at home, this can make the transition to a new home much easier.
If you'd like to learn more about how respite care can help relieve the stress of the holidays, please call the Randall Residence community nearest you.