But in this time of your life, this time of caregiving, you just find yourself dreading them. Holidays seem to mean more: more work, more disappointment, more stress. Which means you must do more of what you just dislike: Asking for help, asking for understanding, asking for time.
How, in a time that takes, like caregiving, can you find the energy for more?
You’ll find more energy when you give yourself permission to do less. Less truly is more when caregiving and the holidays collide.
Start doing less by taking a few moments to write down what you dread about the holidays. How can you make that better? Perhaps you ask another family member to manage the task or the get-together. Maybe you decide the ritual can go on hold this year. Perhaps you decide smaller is better, scaling back on the number of presents, the size of tree, the number of side dishes served during the holiday dinner.
Next, revisit how and why you observe the holiday season the way you do.
For instance, we often let our calendar dictate our celebrations. Look instead to your day and your routine. Perhaps this year Christmas Day is just for you, your caree and a few family members because that just feels easier. You’ll have another get-together with other family members on the Saturday after Christmas.
We also often look to the past to determine this year’s celebrations. But the past without caregiving is much different than a present in caregiving. Revise and discard traditions as needed; you’ll benefit from the flexibility. Explain to family members, “I need to do something this year. Let’s try it and see how it works. I’m so grateful to you for your willingness to try something new.”
You might hold onto a solution that has long turned into a problem simply because you can’t let go. Hosting a meal for 30 family members—even though the stress seems crippling—just because it’s what you always did creates problems. Let go and let in another, simpler way to be a host during the holidays.
You also may think you can get through the holidays with the same amount of help you have during the rest of the year. Sure, you might wake up on January 2 and think, I survived! But if you wake up feeling 30 years older and 50 pounds heavier because the stress of doing it all without any extra help almost did you in, then it wasn’t worth it. Consider what help you need and then ask for it or hire it.
We may have expectations during the holiday season, especially if you feel this may be the last holiday with your family member. You may feel it and then take action—taking more photos, engaging in meaningful conversations, reminiscing about holidays past. Others may feel it and not take action—because of denial or fear or both. Do what feels right and good to you. Beware of expecting others to do the same as you. As painful as it may be when others don’t show up physically or emotionally, allow others to make their own choices and decisions. With all the roles you take on, do your best to avoid becoming judge and jury.
You can have a special holiday season. Take what you need to make it happen.
What new holiday traditions have you started because of caregiving? Please share in our comments section, below.
- Our free monthly webinar is Wednesday (11/27) at Noon ET (11 a.m. CT, 9 a.m. PT). Join me for “Embracing the Perfectly Imperfect Holiday.”
- Visit our Holiday Survival Guide for tips and suggestions on managing holiday and caregiving stress.
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