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Five Ways for Caregivers to De-Stress the Holidays

Posted on 11/28/18 by Mary Mazur, Community Engagement

Photo credit: Abel Mitja Varela

The holidays are time for fun and family, but the season also can trigger stress for family caregivers. According to an AARP survey, 7 in 10 family caregivers say it is emotionally stressful to care for loved ones during the holidays.

Often times, caregivers place too much pressure on themselves, striving to create the perfect holiday experience. If you’re a caregiver or know one in our community, here are a five steps that can minimize holiday stress and maximize joy.

  1. Fill YOUR tank first. We don’t expect our cars to run on empty and caregivers can’t either. Find quick ways to fill your own tank, like making time for a peppermint mocha or a visit with friends. Or maybe it’s a good night’s sleep, watching a favorite movie, or a day to yourself.
  2. Line up someone to listen. It really does help to express our fears, stress and frustration to another. A friend or family member can play this role, or you can contact a local or online caregiver support group.
  3. Cut back on the decorations. Scale back the number of decorations, displaying only the ones that are most meaningful. Also, consider paying others to help decorate or invite friends over for a decorating party.
  4. Be flexible with shopping and gift giving. Try shopping online or making a list and asking someone else to do the shopping and/or mail packages. Also, consider cutting back on gifts – saving time, money and stress.
  5. Get a backup. Even if you don’t normally have help caring for your loved ones, this might be a good time to arrange for care for them. You’ll have more time to unwind and focus on holiday tasks. Plan fun holiday activities for them while you’re away so you feel better about leaving.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the holiday frenzy on top of caregiving responsibilities. Following these tips and being mindful of joyful moments will magnify precious holiday time with all loved ones.

Visit AARP’s Caregiver’s Resource Center for more tips and resources that can help you care for your loved one and yourself, including caregiving resources and solutions in your area.

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