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10 Tips for Caregivers During the Holidays

Feeling overwhelmed? Here's how to handle the stress

Stressed woman during the holidays, Holiday Tips for Caregivers (iStock)

It's easy for caregivers to get stressed out during the holiday season. — iStockPhoto

5. Know your own best stress outlets

Only you know what works best for you as a stress reliever. It may be writing in a journal, laughing at a funny movie, talking with a friend, going for a walk or sharing your thoughts on social media such as Facebook. Make a list of outlets you can keep handy when you start to feel stressed out.

6. Connect with support

With everyone so busy this season, online message boards or groups can be a convenient way to seek support. And don't forget professional help from a counselor or therapist.

7. Plan ahead and focus on what is most meaningful

Perfection is not the goal of the holidays — joy is! Cramming more into your already crazy schedule can push you over the edge, so consider what is really doable before you commit. Remember, you'll be happier if you can go with the flow and expect the inevitable delay, crisis or disappointment. Above all, making good memories with your loved ones is especially valuable at this time.

8. Ask for help for yourself and those you care for

Now is the time to seek help with both your caregiving responsibilities and your holiday preparations or personal matters. Even if you don't usually pay for help, consider doing so now, since hiring someone to assist for a few hours can be a huge relief. A personal assistant or concierge can complete items on your holiday to-do list or handle some of your home tasks, such as organizing mail, doing laundry, cleaning or running errands. You might also take advantage of paid care for your loved ones, including using individual caregivers, adult day care centers or respite care programs that can free you up for holiday activities.

9. Simplify your holiday activities

Many of us love to go all-out for the holidays, but it will be less stressful if you can scale back and find a way to simplify while still enjoying the spirit of the season. You could choose just a few decorations or foods that are most significant to you and feel doable, or cut back to two or three holiday activities that fill your heart with joy. Set limits and you'll be OK.

10. Start new traditions

Instead of focusing on what you're not doing, try doing something new. If cooking holiday meals is too much for you, eat out or order a prepared meal to have at home to give you more time with family and less time cleaning up. Give the gift of time or attention rather than costly presents. Attend a holiday concert you've never gone to before. Can't make it to a holiday gathering? Use technology and have a video visit.

Amy Goyer is a caregiving expert for AARP and the author of Juggling Work and Caregiving.

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