Holiday stress can turn your holiday season into one, long marathon to be survived instead of enjoyed. More than any time of year, the holidays create too much to do and not enough time. Add the challenge of trying to juggle celebrations with family and friends, together with caregiving chores, and you have a recipe for headaches, upset stomachs, tight muscles, and sleepless nights.
It’s easy enough for outsiders to prescribe well-meaning solutions, like going to the gym or yoga class, but often that advice isn’t realistic for a caregiver who is juggling so many responsibilities.
What’s a caregiver to do to manage holiday stress?
Stop expecting a Norman Rockwell-worthy holiday.
You know the magazine cover (or maybe that holiday TV ad) with the well-behaved children, perfectly-decorated home, and happy family and friends. Let’s be real, behind the perfect picture is a tapestry of arguments, resentment, exhaustion from overdoing, and kid who behave…well, like kids.
Make it a priority to schedule one special event just for you.
Whether that’s an evening with your partner and kids, a dinner out with friends, or even just a coffee break with your bestie, you deserve some holiday cheer too.
Limit your social media time.
When your friends and connections are sharing their awesome vacations, perfect dinner parties, and nights out with friends, it makes it even harder to be the one who is sacrificing to care for your loved one. It’s very natural to feel envious and even resentful, and there’s no reason to pile it on by spending hours viewing social posts of what you can’t have.
Realize you can’t be everything to everyone.
Expecting yourself to be the perfect hostess, gourmet cook, personal shopper, and artistic gift-wrapper while you juggle your life, work and caregiving duties is the perfect recipe for maximizing, not reducing, your holiday stress.
Focus on what you can be grateful for.
When you find yourself in the midst of the inevitable holiday stress, stop for thirty seconds and consider one thing you can be grateful for, even if it is something very small. You’ll lower your blood pressure and relieve some stress.
Pick one or two special traditions and let the rest go.
It’s tempting to try and recreate happier times by honoring all of your family’s holiday traditions. To quote Frozen: “Let it go, let it go.”
Be kind to yourself.
You’re doing an amazing job! Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend in the same situation.