Caregivers spend so much time giving of themselves to others. While being a caregiver is a beautiful calling, it can also lead to exhaustion and burn out, if a caregiver does not also take care of themselves.
Nicole Brackett, care delivery and education manager at Homewatch CareGivers, helps to care for her elderly mother. She is passionate about giving her the best care possible. While it may be tempting to take on lots of additional tasks during the holidays. Brackett acknowledges that it’s important as a caregiver to create boundaries. “Caregiving is already a huge task,” Brackett says. “There is no need for you to agree to help clean, decorate, bake, or host the holiday celebration as well.”
Here are a few ways that a caregiver can ensure they are taking care of themselves and their loved ones this holiday season.
1. Prioritize Self Care. Oftentimes caregivers put themselves last and take care of the needs of everyone around them first. It is important for caregivers to also prioritize self-care, especially during the holidays when daily activities multiply. This can be something as simple as designating 15-20 minutes a day to reading a book, watching an episode of your favorite show, taking a walk or enjoying a cup of coffee. These self-care sessions during the day will help you decompress and ensure that you have built-in time each day to rest. No one can provide excellent care for others when they are exhausted or sick, so taking time to prioritize your health will allow you to have the energy to care for loved ones too.
2. Simplify this Season. It’s okay if you don’t have time to cross off every item on your holiday to-do list this year. Don’t put pressure on yourself to carry out every tradition because you are already doing so much as a caregiver. Try to simplify where you can, such as sending online Christmas cards instead of physical cards or buying cookies instead of baking them. You can also go for a drive around the neighborhood to enjoy Christmas lights instead of worrying about putting them up yourself. We all love the holidays and you can still participate in the seasonal festivities that matter most to you this year, but don’t take on unnecessary stress by thinking you have to say yes to every activity.
3. Share the Load. If family members will be in town for the holidays, don’t be afraid to ask them for help. Most family members are happy to help spend an afternoon or morning with a loved one who needs care. Take advantage of this time to take a little bit of a break and return to your caregiver role feeling refreshed. You can also ask family members to assist with making a meal for the day or taking a walk with the person in your care. If family members or friends can help with simple tasks, it will make a huge impact on the overall number of things you will be able to accomplish this holiday season.
4. De-stress and decompress. It’s the season of giving, so make sure you give yourself the gift of recharging and de-stressing. There are many easy activities you can do to help keep your stress levels low. You can do anything from taking a few minutes for meditation, writing in a journal, walking, or listening to music. In the midst of all the holiday festivities and making sure the loved one in your care has a happy and healthy holiday, be sure to gift yourself a few minutes of time each day too.