Stress management for caregivers during the holidays
Oh no … it’s “the Holidays” already ….
As I reflect on what the holidays mean to me, I dig deep into my heart and find peace and serenity and a sense of joy and family—and then the world and life take over.
The house to decorate, cookies to be made, presents to be bought, cards to be sent—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. For those who are caregivers of others, the holidays can become even more of a chore, even something to dread.
In fact, during the holidays, the biggest stressors for many people are relationships, finances and physical demands. It’s therefore important to listen to your body, reflect on the true meaning of the season, and do what makes you happy to keep the holiday period a peaceful season.
Here are some tips to help you:
• Recognize the signs of stress and burnout: Feeling physically, emotionally and mentally tired can drag you down.
• Take time for yourself (more below).
• In fact, keep yourself at the top of the list: Exercise daily even if it’s just a 10-minute walk … or consider a craft.
• Practice deep breathing, which can help relieve stress.
• Set aside 20 minutes a day to read a book, listen to music, light a candle and just relax.
• Get enough sleep.
• Eat nutritious meals.
• Realize and accept what you can and cannot do—and be willing, if necessary, to say “no.”
In fact, focus on the positives:
• Think about what you can accomplish instead of what you can’t.
• Celebrate what your loved ones can do, rather than mourning what they can no longer participate in.
• Revel in the holiday joys you will experience, instead of missing those you’ll bypass.
• Appreciate the help you are receiving rather than resenting those who aren’t supportive. Negative thinking actually activates your body’s stress response, so steer your mind elsewhere when you start down the slippery slope of negative thinking.
And, as necessary, ask for help. If you never pay for caregiving assistance, this season may be the time to do so.
Overall, simplify your holidays to decrease the stress on yourself. Make it work for you by decreasing, if just a bit, your worry about everyone else.
And, lastly, find peace. Find peace in your day and peace in your night. One very easy way to do this is just to think positive thoughts. You will be amazed at the impact this one small step can have!
—Jaqui Burleigh RN, BSN, MSN
Compassus – Hospice and Palliative Care
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