The holiday season is a joyous time of year filled with good food, fellowship, and the exchanging of presents. As an informal caregiver, the greatest gift of all is the love and nurturing you provide to older loved ones year-round so they can age in place with dignity and respect. But with everything else on your plate, it’s also vital to focus on your health and well-being as the calendar transitions to a new year. If you’re not sure how to stay recharged this holiday season, what follows are several self-care tips that every family caregiver should know.
Holiday Caregiver Burnout Warning Signs
As the holiday season approaches, the average caregiver runs the risk of getting overworked, overtired, and overstressed. Exhaustion, worry, limited resources, and strained relationships are daily challenges that caregivers face at any time of year.
Caregiver burnout warning signs include:
- Sleep deprivation
- Anxiety and depression
- Difficulty performing simple tasks
- Rapid weight gain or loss
- Postponing or completely ignoring medical appointments
- Substance abuse
- Not exercising enough
- Poor eating habits
- Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Social isolation and loneliness
No matter how hard you try, ignoring these symptoms won’t make them go away. If allowed to persist, caregiver burnout will eventually put a damper on your holiday festivities.
How to Stay Refreshed All Season Long
Here are several ways to avoid caregiver burnout this holiday season:
No matter how hard you try, your loved one’s condition will eventually worsen. Rather than allowing yourself to get overwhelmed, prioritize your daily tasks and focus on the most important ones — like taking Grandma to your child’s school holiday program. After all, even Santa Claus takes vacations!
Get enough sleep
The human body requires seven to eight hours of sleep every day to replenish its energy stores and heal. Lying awake at night worrying about things outside your control won’t make you feel very jolly this holiday season.
Although they may be harder to avoid at holiday gatherings, fat-filled and sugary foods aren’t the long-term solution to a healthier you. Instead, eat a nutrient-rich diet filled with fresh fruits, veggies, beans, and nuts.
Not everyone has what it takes to be a successful caregiver. Reward yourself for a job well done by doing something you enjoy every week. Use your newfound downtime to get a massage, learn a new hobby, or binge-watch your favorite Christmas movies. After all, you’ve earned it!
Keep a caregiving journal
Another way to emotionally decompress is by keeping a daily caregiving journal. Use it to record both positive and negative experiences that you are going through — like the fact you were able to get Mom out of the house today to help wrap presents.
Exercising for at least 20 minutes 3 to 5 times a week will help you reduce stress, sleep better, and fight off illnesses — all of which will keep you feeling refreshed to decorate the tree or bake cookies.
Join a support group
Caregiver support groups are a great place to share your innermost feelings with like-minded individuals who understand what you’re going through. Whether you attend online or in-person, fellow group members can also be an invaluable source of caregiving tips.
Seek professional counseling
Negative feelings like anxiety and depression can make you feel like a Grinch when least expected. Speaking with a licensed therapist will provide you with the opportunity to express your thoughts without being judged. A professional counselor can also provide you with tips on staying positive when nothing else seems to work.
Take a break
Asking for help doesn’t make you a failure. Avoid burnout by seeking relief through community resources, family, or trusted friends. Another option at your disposal is hiring a professional respite caregiver from a reputable home care provider.
Flexible In-Home Respite Care for Seniors in Northern Milwaukee
When you’re ready to take a well-deserved break any time of year, put your mind at ease by contacting the caring professionals from Home Instead® Senior Care. Conveniently available in Northern Milwaukee, our senior care services help to enhance the aging experience by providing practical support at home delivered with a human touch.
Our reliable in-home solutions help aging adults stay engaged in everyday life with tailor-made support to stay safe and well at home. At Home Instead, it is always our mission to provide a care plan personalized to your family’s needs – bringing you all comfort, companionship, and peace of mind. To learn more or schedule a time to talk with one of our home care specialists, please visit us at homeinsteadwi.wpengine.com.