Managing Caregiver Stress During the Holidays

The holidays can be difficult for many of us caring for a loved one dealing with life-threatening or chronic illnesses. Phrases like, “Happy Holidays” or “Happy New Year” might take on a different meaning as we walk into the holidays. With everyone cheering, shopping, and getting together for the holidays, it can be difficult to not be stressed.

Here are some suggestions to help you cope with the stress of the holidays:

  1. Learn to say ‘no’ and respect your needs

As a caregiver, learn to say ‘no, thank you’ to invitations and get-togethers. You do not have to attend every party, or take long trips to visit family. More importantly, you shouldn’t have to feel pressured to attend every function.

  1. Learn to be okay with having an ‘imperfect’ holiday

There is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ holiday. We have to realize that these are just our perceptions for what ‘holidays’ should look like. Re-create your own traditions that fits your needs and encompasses what you are going through. It is also important to realize that time changes. Not one moment stays forever. What is your reality today, won’t be the same tomorrow.

  1. Practice compassion on yourself

Practicing kindness on oneself is important. Doing things that you love – be it going for a walk, or just having someone come and do the laundry. These acts of kindness to oneself allow you to breathe and rekindle your spirit.

  1. Use social media infrequently, if possible

It is common knowledge that prolonged use of social media can lead to depression. As a caregiver, it can be hard to be on social media, while one isn’t celebrating as much. Allow yourself to tune out, if need be. You don’t have to frequent social media as much. You also shouldn’t feel pressured to post if you don’t want to.  

  1. Create a support system of people who advocate for you

While you may not be present at all get-togethers and functions, it is important to have a support system of family and friends who can advocate on your behalf of your absence. In that way, you are not explaining again and again.

  1. Be receptive and open to the care that is bestowed upon you

Be open to accepting prayers and kind thoughts from random strangers and friends. Having an open heart can be healing and a beautiful gift. Accepting prayers and kind thoughts from random strangers and friends. Spiritual practices can be healing during this time.  

  1. Practice forgiveness with others

Most people are just not aware on how to react when someone says they are caring for a loved one. Sometimes, it is not their fault – they really do not know. In moments like these, forgiveness and gratitude helps.

Lastly, it is important to realize that being a caregiver is the greatest sacrifice and act of giving you can do. As a caregiver, you decided to jump in and help someone, despite your own life. That is the greatest gift you can give anyone not just during the holidays, but throughout your life.  

About the author

Pooja Rajani is a skilled facilitator, with expertise in raising awareness, and launching new initiatives. She has worked with companies to build campaigns from the ground up. She spent the past year helping benchmark caregiver needs. She holds an MBA from the Strome College of Business and an M.P.H. from Eastern Virginia Medical School.