As another holiday season kicks into high gear, we should remind ourselves that amid the revelry and cheer, some people are suffering. Family caregivers and the loved ones they look after, often struggle during this time of year. Sometimes it’s due to burnout. Other times suffering comes from sadness over what’s been lost. Regardless of the reason, it’s difficult to just soldier through the holidays while pretending nothing’s wrong. If you’re in this position, you don’t just have to endure the season. Through a little self-awareness and forethought, it’s possible to enjoy the holidays despite all the stress.
Holiday Stress Hits Caregivers Hard
Family caregivers are some of the most emotionally resilient people in the world. After all, it takes a high degree of empathy to place someone else’s needs over your own consistently. Despite all that strength, burnout is real, and it can take a toll on even the most reliable caregivers. This struggle is often most intense during the holidays when already existing stress is magnified by the expectations of the season.
Caregivers who struggle with holiday-related stress can benefit from a thoughtful examination of their emotional well-being.
This process begins by identifying your stress symptoms. Do you suffer from anxiety, sleep disturbances, depression, or irritability as a result of stress? Maybe you take comfort in unhealthy food? No matter how the symptoms manifest themselves in your life, recognizing these symptoms as they occur is the first step towards mitigating them. Once you realize you’re under stress, try to pinpoint the source. Is it a person or an event? Could it be some unspoken expectation? If you can uncover the cause, you can then take steps to reduce its negative effect in your life.
In reality, some stresses are unavoidable. In these instances, caregivers should prioritize their health. Take time to exercise and eat a healthy diet. Whenever possible, caregivers should also detach from their caregivers altogether with help from other family members or an in-home care provider that offers respite services.
Families are Often a Big Source of Stress
The holidays are supposed to be a time for connecting with family, friends, and other loved ones. However, too often, the people most important to us can also be the source of our greatest stress. This is, of course, a complicated subject, and every family is different. However, if you’re a caregiver who experiences added pressure due to family expectations, you need to protect yourself. This begins by creating realistic expectations about what you can and cannot do during the holidays. Many people fall into the trap of overcommitting, then lose any sense of joy as they struggle to live up to their promises. Instead, focus on the holiday activities that matter most to you and put your energy there.
Complicated family dynamics can also be the source of significant family stress for caregivers. Sometimes avoiding holiday stress means picking your battles with the people you know will trigger your emotions. You can try clearing the air well in advance of any holiday family gathering, but that’s not always possible. In many cases, choosing when and when not to engage is the best approach. After all, your goal is not to be right. Your goal is to protect your emotional reserves.
The Holiday Season is Also Often Difficult for Seniors
This season can also be a struggle for our older loved ones, as well. Memories of lost loved ones, frustration over the aging process, and loneliness can all be triggered during the holidays. If you don’t see your older loved ones very often during the year, holiday gatherings can be a great time to check-in. If they appear unkempt or underweight, it could be a sign that they’re suffering from depression or having difficulty taking care of themselves.
In some cases, early signs of dementia are expressed through communication. Can your older loved one participate in and follow family communication? Do they seem to be easily confused? If you answer yes to any of these questions, it might be time for a conversation with your loved one’s doctor.
In-Home Care Can Help During the Holidays
If you’re struggling to keep a positive attitude during the holidays and need some time away, in-home care can help. Most caregiving companies offer short-term respite care services where trained caregivers look after your loved ones. This extra help allows you to run errands, participate in family holiday events, or take some time for yourself. If you live in Arizona, Generations Home Care should be your first call.
December can be a tough time for lots of people. But, by examining your emotions, being intentional about what activities you undertake, and watching out for those closest to us, we can all enjoy the season just a little more.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.