10 Tips For Caregivers Over The Holidays
Being a family caregiver is a fulfilling role that allows you to be a positive light in your loved one’s life. Caregiving during the holidays can be a tad challenging, but with the right plan and support, you can maintain a positive attitude and sustain your joyous holiday spirit. Here are some of our favorite tips for caregivers during the holidays as well as what you need to know about caregiver burnout so that you can avoid it.
Avoid Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver burnout, sometimes called caregiver fatigue, is a very real phenomenon that happens to both professional and family caregivers due to the extra stress of the role. Caregiver fatigue can lead to emotional, mental, and physical health consequences, sometimes leaving caregivers unable to fulfill their caregiving duties.
Caregiver fatigue can happen to any family caregiver, whether you perform in-person caregiving duties daily or not. The Family Caregiver Alliance reports that caregivers for senior loved ones can experience more instances of depression and anxiety than their non-caregiving peers, as well as sleep disruptions, cognitive decline, and heart disease. Another side effect of caregiver burnout? Elder abuse.
There’s good news, though! You can avoid caregiver burnout by paying close attention to getting enough rest and time away from your caregiving role.
Tips for Caregivers During the Holidays
Avoiding caregiver burnout during the holidays requires having a plan and putting the right habits into place so that you have time to decompress and re-energize yourself during a very busy time of year. Here are a few things you can do to battle holiday stress this year.
Schedule time for rest.
Rest is crucial for keeping caregiver burnout at bay. Schedule time for yourself - in ink - in your busy holiday calendar. Use your time alone to do whatever makes you feel rested and capable, whether that is a yoga class, a nap, or reading a good book.
Schedule friends and family assistance.
While you are scheduling, send out an email or text message asking for help with specific needs this season. For example, ask for family members to sign up for specific nights to bring dinner to your senior loved one or pick up medications from the pharmacy so that you don’t have to.
Drink enough water.
Staying hydrated is something simple you can do for your personal health. Buy a new water bottle and set hydration goals for yourself this season.
Eat fruits and vegetables.
Eating nutritious foods can feel nearly impossible with all the holiday cookies and treats around. While you don’t have to skip the treats, be sure you are eating fruits and vegetables with each meal.
Get a consistent bedtime routine.
Sleep disruptions are common among family caregivers. Keep your sleep quality high by taking time to get into a consistent bedtime routine. Shut screens off at least one hour before bed, get into comfortable pajamas, meditate, or do anything else you need to do that tells your body to unwind.
The holiday season is full of concerts, events, and other commitments. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and over-scheduled. Reclaim your time by getting used to saying “no” to obligations that you just don’t have the energy for.
Trim down traditions.
While you don’t need to get rid of your favorite holiday traditions altogether, this year might be the year when you trim them down a bit. Instead of baking 6 different types of holiday cookies to hand out to neighbors, trim down your list to 2. Or, better yet, buy cookies this year.
Avoid too much caffeine or alcohol.
Instead of that afternoon cup of coffee or tea, try switching to something with less caffeine in order to nourish your body and better your sleep. Similarly, skip that second glass of wine with dinner in order to set your body up for success during this busy time.
Mindfulness can sometimes get a bad rap as people think it consists of quietly meditating for hours on end. But mindfulness is simply grounding yourself in the present moment and it can have a positive impact on your mood and mental health. Try taking a walk without listening to music or simply breathing deeply while repeating the phrase “here I am”.
Find your own comfort and joy.
The holiday season for caregivers often means putting their own needs behind what everyone else needs. Find time this season to create your own comfort and joy, whether that means getting up 15 minutes earlier to sit in silence with your coffee or taking a half day off work to sneak in a massage. You deserve it.
Here’s to a healthy and less-stressful holiday season for all of us!