Caregivers: Tips for Less Stress Over the Holidays—and More Joy!

The holidays can be a stressful time of year in any household, especially if you’re a caregiver for an aging loved one. Changes in routine, raised expectations, busier schedules, and more frequent social interactions can quickly become overwhelming for loved ones and caregivers alike.

These tips can help caregivers manage stress and anxiety for themselves and those they care for while focusing on less-demanding fun and merriment.

Simplify! Resist the pressure go all-out for the holidays. You’re not obligated to attend every event, host gatherings in your home, or keep up with all family holiday traditions. Choose just a few activities, decorations, or foods that are meaningful to you and feel doable.

Start new traditions. While it’s true that honoring family traditions may help a loved one with dementia connect with holiday celebrations, it’s OK to scale down favorite festivities, or carry out just a few traditions. Another idea is to try something new. If your loved one seems receptive, attend a holiday concert you’ve never gone to before. Instead of cooking a holiday meal, eat out or order a prepared meal. Take a drive to look at neighborhood holiday decorations.

Keep up self-care. During this busy time, it’s easy to let your own needs and well-being slip. But making time for exercise can boost your mood and renew valuable stamina. Keep exercise as simple as walking in a shopping mall or dancing to holiday tunes. Try to limit sugary foods and alcohol that can result in an energy crash. Step outside for some mood-elevating vitamin D from sunlight.

Focus on what you can do rather on what you can’t. Valuable advice from AARP: “Think about what you can accomplish instead of what you can’t.” Further, celebrate what your loved ones can do, rather than mourning their diminished capabilities. Revel in the holiday joys you and your loved one will experience this season, instead of missing those you’ll bypass. Try to give thanks for the help you are receiving rather than resenting those who aren’t supportive. AARP reminds us that negative thinking activates your body’s stress response. Redirect your thoughts when you feel yourself slipping into a detrimental mindset.