Community Blog

How Family Caregivers Can Avoid the Holiday Blahs

By Vicki and Brian Day

The holiday season from Thanksgiving through the New Year can mean a flurry of fun, delicious food, quality time with friends and family and a chance to reflect on the better things in life. However, the holidays can also bring anxiety, stress, frustration, sadness and even depression. If you are a family caregiver, you have the extra responsibility of making sure your aging relative is also happy and healthy. All these demands can cause you to neglect your own health and trigger bad habits such as unhealthy eating, too little sleep and too much spending.

Here are 12 ways that family caregivers like you can avoid the holiday blahs:

  1. Prioritize what is really important about the holiday season for you and focus on those first few items, events, traditions and customs.
  2. Get organized by outlining what needs done by when and get an early start. Keeping a list helps you stay focused and lets you see all that you’ve accomplished.
  3. Eat healthy food and try to keep up on your exercise program. When the body is undernourished and fatigued, it wears down more quickly.
  4. Get plenty of sleep, because you will not be as energetic or focused as you could be when you are sleep deprived. You may be tempted to carve out time to yourself in the late hours of the day, but that will make you even more tired and inefficient.
  5. Don’t try to create the perfect holiday experience, because it won’t be. Instead, focus on the most important aspects and let the rest go.
  6. Get help with your elderly relative. Hire an elder care aide, ask a family member and recruit friends to assist you in transportation or companionship duties to give you a break.
  7. Keep the spending under control. Few things cause as much frustration at the holidays then spending too much money. Create a budget and stay with it for maximum peace of mind.
  8. Make plans that incorporate your elderly relative, according to their health and mobility. They may not be up for a midnight party but would love a holiday brunch, for example.
  9. Spend time volunteering somewhere to keep things in perspective. Homeless shelters, hospitals and animal shelters all need extra help during the holidays.
  10. Avoid turning to alcohol or drugs to cope with your holiday stress. All this will do is make things worse and create more problems for you and your family.
  11. Find inspiration within the celebrations. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with artificial pursuits and commercialism. Try to put aside all the unimportant things and focus on the beauty and charms of the holiday season.
  12. Talk to a doctor or a therapist if you are experiencing some severe burnout, anxiety or depression from the holidays or from your caregiving responsibilities. Sometimes talk therapy can help turn things around, or perhaps you need some medication to stabilize yourself. Either way, the professionals can help you out.

If you are starting to feel overwhelmed or cringe at the thought of the holiday season just around the corner blending with your elder care duties, start taking care of things now to maximize your ability to withstand the holiday blahs.