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Coping with Caregiver Stress During the Holidays

Posted by Jennifer on December 11, 2012

For caregivers, the holidays can be a very trying time when more than ever you feel pulled in many directions. This is especially true for the ‘sandwich’ generation, who deal with caring for elderly parents as well as raising their children. Over the holidays, you feel the pressure to provide your family with all the favourites: decorations, gifts, cooking, parties… your list goes on. You also have your social obligations to attend holiday events. And now, on top of what is generally a busy time of year for anyone, you need to incorporate ensuring that your elderly parent has everything they love about the holidays, just like they gave you when you were a child. At the end of each day, you feel deflated, and can barely muster the Christmas cheer you are supposed to feel at this time. So how does a caregiver get through the holidays – and even enjoy the holidays?

  1. Reduce: Naturally, your children enjoy about five or six holiday baking treats that you bring out once a year. That doesn’t mean that you need to make them all – your children will surprise you by how understand they will be when you only bake one or two types of cookies. Likewise, don’t attend every event your family is invited to. People will understand.
  2. Delegate: You are used to doing it all by yourself, but at holiday time especially people are eager to help you! Ask someone to lend you a hand – even ask your children!
  3. Take breaks: Allowing yourself a few moments of silence to recharge is invaluable. We often forget to stop and breathe – no time! Whether it’s just listening to music while driving your car, or sitting alone in your room for 5 minutes when you get home, make that time for yourself.
  4. Be honest: If you enlighten the people around you to your current situation, you will find they will be entirely compassionate and empathetic to you. If you don’t let anyone know how thin you are stretched, you cannot expect them to reduce their dependence on you.
  5. Find joy: You are spending all of your time making sure everyone else enjoys the holidays, and not enjoying them yourself! It is simply unsustainable. Try to take moments to enjoy the time spent with the family that you are working so hard to support. After all, that is the thing they want from you more than anything!
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