5 holiday tips for caregivers

December 10, 2015 Providence Health Team

The holidays typically bring unwanted stress. That stress can worsen if you’re the designated caregiver for someone who has an illness or injury in the house. A few easy steps can help you fill your home with more joy and less hassle this holiday season.

Communicate with others

Not everyone who visits this season may know what to expect from the person you’re caring for. One way to address this is by sending a note to family and friends. Consider casually updating loved ones in your holiday greeting.

Here are two examples:

  • “I’m writing to let you how things are going at home. While we are excited to see you, we thought it may be helpful if you understood the current situation before you arrive.”
  • “You may notice that ____ has changed since you last saw him/her. Among those changes are ____.”

Take care of you

It’s easy to skip the gym when you’ve got a million things to get done. Remember, though, that exercise is an effective stress-reliever. If working out doesn’t appeal to you, find other ways to reduce stress: Get plenty of sleep; limit sugary foods that can lead to energy crashes; take a relaxing bath; or watch your favorite holiday flick.

Share your wish list

When someone asks how she can help or what you want for the holidays, be honest. Ask for a day off or a gift certificate to the spa so you can give yourself some respite. Or, ask for help around the house. Perhaps you need light bulbs replaced or the gutters cleaned.

Simplify your holiday

It’s OK to scale back. Lots of people make over-the-top holiday plans and expectations. This year, consider committing to fewer events, trimming back the decorations or cooking fewer dishes. If the old holiday plan isn’t working, ditch it. Adopt new traditions that make more sense (and reduce the stress) for your current family situation.

For instance, trade the big sit-down dinner for a potluck or a catered event. You could try Secret Santa or stocking stuffers instead of buying gifts for a long list of relatives.

Know your triggers

If certain situations elicit unhappy memories or push your buttons, steer clear of them. This might not be possible, but mentally prepare yourself for conversation topics or people who may get under your skin. Try to think positive thoughts and develop coping mechanisms to protect yourself from negative emotions.

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