Over the next month or so, many people will be traveling to visit relatives and friends or hosting family holiday gatherings in their own homes.
It is a very busy time of year and people often talk about feeling “stressed, frazzled and overwhelmed” due to the many demands on their time as well as finances.
Caregivers of aging parents are at great risk for experiencing additional stress during the holidays as there are more demands on their time.
Here are 5 tips to help cope with holiday stress
- Ask for help – this can include calling family and friends to pitch in and also utilizing the many helpful services available, for instance grocery delivery. Delegate specific tasks and ask for someone to coordinate this effort so you don’t have to worry about things getting done. Arrange for a cleaning service beforehand if at all possible so you can focus on getting other important tasks completed.
- Set limits – for what you will do during the holidays. I was the caregiver for a family member last year so I informed everyone I was not going to be able to do the usual holiday traditions of meal preparation and gift giving. We purchased a complete holiday meal and everyone pitched in to get dinner on the table. We enjoyed spending time together rather than shopping for gifts and it turned into a wonderful family celebration.
- Plan “You” time – include time each day to do something for yourself; reading with a cup of tea is my favorite, but exercise or yoga, doing a craft project, getting a massage or watching a movie are some ways to take time for self.
- Be flexible – if you find yourself getting overwhelmed, consider changing your plans, possibly eliminate an activity you had scheduled or modify it in some way, for instance only going for one hour to a holiday gathering rather than the 3 hours you’d planned.
- Develop an Attitude of Gratitude – be thankful for what you do have and try to appreciate the special moments whenever possible. Be present and attentive to loved ones and make time to reflect on what is truly important. To quote Maya Angelou, “Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud”.
Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season! Remember to take care of yourself, which will make for a less stressed and more enjoyable holiday!