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Caregiving over the Holidays – 5 tips to reduce stress

The holiday period can feel incredibly overwhelming. As we grow older the ‘festive magic’ often disappears, and we are left with a long list of gifts to buy, meals to prepare, and chores to do. Add caregiving on top of this, and it’s completely normal to feel burnt out! We have 5 tips to help you manage stress as a caregiver this holiday season:

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  1. Prioritise what is most important/meaningful

A good way to manage stress during this time is to set your priorities; you can’t do everything, and trying to will set you on the fast-track to burning out. Ask yourself what brings you the most joy during this time; do you get a lot out of cooking for your loved ones, but would rather watch festive movies at home than attend a party? Or do you love decorating the Christmas tree, but freak out over the thought of cooking a holiday feast? Focus most of your energy on what brings you the most happiness during this time, and cut back on what feels exhausting.

  1. Simplify

Similar to prioritising, simplifying means scaling back to keep your mental health in check. If the thought of decorating the entire house feels like too much, then it probably is. Maybe this year you don’t have to put all the lights up, or maybe you can buy more ready-made food, or maybe you can get gift-cards for your loved ones’ favourite stores rather than tearing your hair out trying to think of the perfect gift.

  1. Be flexible

With all this cutting-out and scaling back, it’s still important to stay open to opportunities and moments that excite you and make you feel good during this time. Maybe you thought you wouldn’t have the energy to bake after a long shift, but you wake up and think it would be a therapeutic exercise; or you planned to leave a party early because you assumed you would be too tired, but now you’re there and you’re having a great time. Look for and hold onto those little moments of positivity and respite; the joy of the holiday season doesn’t have to come from a carefully orchestrated tradition, it can also come from these small moments that relax you and bring a smile to your face!

  1. Stay connected with friends and family

For a time that is all about getting together with loved ones, the holiday season can definitely feel isolating and lonely, especially if you’re a caregiver. It’s important to maintain friendships and other close personal relationships during this time to avoid loneliness.

This is also a time to communicate your boundaries with the ones you love; stay connected by clearly stating what you have the time and energy for, and what conflicts with your caregiving responsibilities, so that the people who care about you can know what to expect. If you explain why you may not be able to attend the annual event you usually make time for, it reduces the risk of misunderstanding and hurt feelings. Your friends and family are there to support you, so don’t hide your feelings from them!

  1. Schedule ‘me-time’!

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, make sure you’re carving out time for yourself this holiday season. Whether that’s as big as getting a massage or a facial, or as small as making a bit of time every week to engage with your hobbies, don’t forget about the most important person in your life: you! Focus on things that help you relax and unwind – that could be as formal as yoga and meditation, or it could be as simple as taking a bath and reading a book.

Here at Care On Call we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season. Take care!