Caring Conversations: Caregiver Loneliness During the Holidays


Caring Conversations: Caregiver Loneliness During the Holidays

Caregiving schedules and responsibilities can cause you to experience feelings of loneliness, stress, sadness, or isolation during any time of the year. But for many people, these feelings can become stronger during the holiday season. If you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone.

In addition to all the hustle and bustle we associate with the holiday season, the colder weather and shorter, darker days can amplify feelings of stress, loneliness, or sadness. While neighbors are putting out decorations and friends and coworkers are in holiday-party planning mode, it can feel as if everyone but you is in a happy and celebratory spirit. You might feel guilty for not being full of holiday cheer. Or you might resent that other people seem to have fewer responsibilities than you.

Perhaps you’re missing some or all of a family gathering because your caregiving schedule doesn’t allow you to travel much. Maybe you’ve had trouble finding the time to do holiday shopping, take part in certain traditions with friends and family, or tend to younger children in addition to an aging parent. Any of these situations can cause loneliness, stress, sadness, and guilt for caregivers.

Fortunately, there are ways to help address and overcome those feelings. Here are a few things to try.

  • Instead of trying to live up to the expectations of years past, look for opportunities to create new, simpler traditions with friends and family. Instead of cooking for everyone, for example, ask everyone to bring one dish and have a pitch-in.

  • If friends or family are offering to help with caring for your loved one or caring for you, accept their help. Think of some concrete ways they can make your life easier – grocery shopping, wrapping a few gifts, watching your children for the afternoon, and so on.

  • Ask for help instead of trying to do everything yourself. People may not realize you’re in need of help until you ask.

  • Take advantage of technology. Get on a video call with family members who may not live nearby so you can hear their voices and see their faces.

  • Say no when you need to, and don’t feel guilty about it. It’s okay to not attend every holiday party or activity.

  • Schedule time to do activities you enjoy, even if it’s only for a little while. Take a walk, bake cookies, visit a friend, go to a yoga class, or do something else that brings you happiness.

  • If your feelings of sadness become overwhelming, talk to your healthcare provider.

  • Remember that taking care of yourself is an important part of caring for your loved one, so be kind to yourself – now and all year long. has even more tips and resources to help you during the holiday season and the rest of the year.

This is the second of a ten-part Caring Conversation blog series that provides caregivers with inspiration, resources, and useful tips. Caring Conversation blogs are produced through a partnership with Lilly for Better Health.

Other posts in the series:

Caring Conversations: A Lilly for Better Health and Partnership

Caring Conversations: Who is a caregiver?

Caring Conversations: How to talk with family about caregiving

Caring Conversations: 2016 tax tips for caregivers

Caring Conversations: Self-care tips for caregivers

Caring Conversations: Building A Supportive Caregiving Community

Caring Conversations: How To Help A Caregiver

Caring Conversations: How To Advocate For The Person You Care For

Caring Conversations: A Caregiver's Guide To Elder Law

Lilly for Better Health is also having Caring Conversations with Joy’s House. You can listen to the first and second installments online.

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