By: Christi M. Lero, MSW, LCSW
There are magnificent people out there in our community. These people work 24/7 with hardly any breaks and no real time off. In fact, depending on the day they can act as health or financial managers, maintenance workers, hairdressers, entertainers, and provide hands-on care dressing, bathing, cleaning, feeding and more. Sometimes they wear all these hats at once! These magnificent people are caregivers of loved ones with chronic or terminal illness. In fact, they are one of the fastest growing population of people in the U.S.
Holidays are different when you are a caregiver.
Caregivers experience the holiday season quite a bit differently than those who are not caring for someone. In order to best support caregivers during this holiday season, it is important to remember that although their holiday may look a little different it should be no less joyful, loving, and bright.
Below, I’ll share five tips to help the wonderful caregivers in our lives keep the tinsel untangled and find ways to enjoy the holiday season this year.
Tips for Caregivers During the Holiday Season
Prioritize the holiday celebrations.
the truth is, not all the holiday things need to be done. What makes it a meaningful holiday for you? Food? Sweets? Time? Music? Prayer or meditation? Focus on those things! Involving your loved one for whom you care is a great way to determine what will bring the most cheer for your home.
KISS (Keep It Simple, Sweetie!)
Holiday decorations do not have to be over-the-top or extravagant. Simple wreaths, pre-decorated table-top trees, or displaying cards received can keep the holiday spirit alive and not add pressure for upkeep or cleanup later on. Even lighting a holiday-scented candle or diffusing essential oils on theme can create great ambiance and help spark memories of holidays past.
Surviving holiday meals in the midst of caregiving
Another branch of keeping things simple is holiday meals – whether it means a pot-luck with loved ones and friends or ordering a holiday meal from the grocery store, if meals around this time of year are important to you then think of easier ways to still enjoy those once-a-year treats without the mental and physical tax.
Minimize stress by avoiding holiday triggers.
Make turning the twinkle lights on the only button pushed. The truth is, holidays can be stressful in general. Seeing certain people or things that can act as triggers for aggravation, criticism, and bubbling up of old unresolved issues does not bring good cheer. Therefore, you may need to avoid people, places, and events that have been historically known to upset you or your loved one to keep the stress low this holiday season.
Accept social support.
Use your community to help relieve a little bit of your stress. Whether it means calling a family member or a friend, gathering support online, or having a professional caregiver care for your loved one for a brief respite, your community is here to help! If you have heard one thing over and over, it’s “let me know how I can help!” but do you? For some reason making that call or saying those words makes us feel like a burden to others. Guess what? People love to help! Doing good deeds and being of support to others boosts self-esteem, confidence, and creates stronger relationships.
Additional Support for Caregivers
You have every right to experience, or not experience, the holidays the way that works best for you. Most importantly, remember that the holiday stress will pass and the season will change. For more information about respite care, please talk to your care coordinator or association resources.
Counseling & Support for Caregivers in Columbia, MO
Sometimes, you just need someone who isn’t as close to the situation that you can confide in. Someone who is there purely to support you as the caregiver. Counseling can be that space for you and we offer counseling support for caregivers of all kinds at our Columbia, MO counseling office. As a therapist who has experience working with caregivers in various settings including hospice, I appreciate the role your caregiving experience plays in your life right now. You deserve support through this. Beginning counseling at Aspire Counseling is easy:
- Contact our intake coordinator by filling out this form online or by calling 573-356-8857. You may need to leave a message, but you will hear back from us within one business day.
- Come in and talk to one of our caring therapists for a free consultation appointment to see if we’re a good fit
- Have a safe space to discuss all of the emotions you are feeling and find hope and joy in the midst of this stressful period of your life!
Resources for Caregivers Over the Holidays
About the Author
Christi Lero is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a therapist at Aspire Counseling. She has experience working with caregivers of all kinds including hospice caregivers, adult children caring for aging parents, parents of young children or individuals helping loved ones with significant health issues. In fact, supporting caregivers is one of Christi’s favorite things to do as a mental health professional. She appreciates the role of the caregiver and offers a safe, comforting space for you to explore the wide range of emotions you experience as a caregiver.
Other Counseling Services at Aspire Counseling
Aspire Counseling supports adults and teenagers who are experiencing a wide range of situational, emotional or mental health stressors. We offer grief/bereavement counseling, help for depression, anxiety treatment and PTSD/trauma therapy. Whatever is causing you stress, we want to give you the support and help you need to move forward. If you live in the Columbia, MO area and are considering counseling, reach out to our client care coordinator at Aspire Counseling today to get matched with a therapist for a free consultation.