Take Time for Yourself to Avoid Holiday Caregiver Stress

by Lois Etienne on November 29, 2010

in Caregiver Support

Q. As a working mother of three children and caregiver to two senior parents, the holidays are among the most stressful times of the year for me.  I’m a good manager, so I always get everything done, but I end up frazzled and unhappy by the time it’s all over.  What are some things I can do to better manage my stress during this busy time.

Holidays are hectic no matter what, but adding caregiving responsibilities to the mix makes that equation more difficult to balance.  More than half (55 percent) of the family caregivers who call upon help from Home Instead Senior Care appear to have average or significant levels of stress, according to a national survey.  We imagine that percentage skyrockets for some by the end of the year.  So here’s what you can do:

Exercise is vital. If you don’t have time for regular workouts, figure out ways to add movement and exercise into your routine.  Walk to the mailbox to send your cards, park opposite the mall entrance or use the stairs instead of the elevator to shop.  Ideally, carve out at least 20 minutes three times a week for an activity that you enjoy.

Proper diet is a must. It’s tempting to eat too much junk and sugar during the holidays.  Try to maintain a regular healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables.

Do something special for yourself. While it may sound frivolous, make time during the season just for you.  Get a massage, lunch out with a friend or go to an afternoon matinee movie while the kids are in school.

Ask for help if you need it. Did you know that, according to a Home Instead Senior Care survey, 72 percent of adults who are currently providing care for an aging loved one do so without any outside help?  To allow time for yourself, ask a neighbor or friend to pick up your kids from school so you can go to lunch or see that movie.  If your parents need help, call a friend or neighbor, or consider hiring a CAREGiver from Home Instead Senior Care.  CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured and often provide respite care to busy family caregivers.

For more information about how to manage your stress, visit our Caregiver Support section.

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