Family caregiver and elderly loved ones celebrating holidays

7 Actionable Tips for Family Caregivers to Ease Stress During the Holiday Season

Get our top actionable tips for family caregivers to manage stress and build support during the holiday season.

Reviewed by
Gloria Zhu

Navigating the holiday season as a family caregiver involves a delicate dance between the responsibilities of caregiving and the desire to partake in the festive cheer. It's an intricate balance that often requires a thoughtful approach and a strong support system. In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll delve deeper into actionable tips and support strategies to empower family caregivers, ensuring a smoother and more fulfilling holiday season.

1. Acknowledge and Validate Your Emotions

The holiday season, with its emphasis on family and joy, can magnify the emotional rollercoaster that caregiving often entails. It's essential to create a safe space for you to openly express your feelings, whether it’s talking to a supportive family member, friend, or therapist. The spectrum of emotions—ranging from joy to stress and guilt—is valid, and sharing stories with fellow caregivers can reinforce the understanding that you are not alone in this journey.

2. Tap into Your Support Network

Building a robust support network is a cornerstone for family caregivers. Beyond family, friends, and neighbors, local community groups can be invaluable sources of assistance. Establishing a network like this can provide not only practical help, but also emotional support and a sense of community. Additionally, tapping into your local respite care options is a great way to leverage your community resources.

3. Plan Realistically and Simplify

Set realistic expectations for the holiday season and don’t stress if certain things don’t go according to plan (trust us, no one has had a perfect, stress-free holiday season). This may entail simplifying traditions, adjusting schedules, or finding alternative ways to celebrate. By managing expectations and communicating out these new schedules or traditions to everyone involved, you’ll be able to execute more easily on the things that matter and still provide thoughtful care to your loved ones. 

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate Responsibilities

Distribute your responsibilities with your family and friends. Organize a family meeting to discuss and allocate tasks such as meal preparation, shopping, decorating, child and pet care, etc. Not only will this foster a sense of shared responsibility and togetherness during the holidays, but it’ll ease the mental and physical burden from your end.

5. Share Your Wishlist

Share your wish lists with family, friends, and the community. This can be gift cards for meal delivery services, subscriptions to relaxation apps, or massage vouchers can provide much-needed respite. Alternatively, asking for a few hours of help with caregiving duties from your support network could be the most useful gift for you this holiday season, so you can have time to recharge.

6. Create a Self-Care Plan

Create a self-care plan for each week, especially during the holiday season when schedules are a bit more hectic. Starting with regular breaks and incorporating small activities throughout the day, like a 15-minute walk outside, 10-minute stretch, or a block of time to work on a personal hobby. As you become more comfortable with taking these smaller breaks, plan out your day with self-care goals in mind. An example of a daily self-care goal would be to work on your budget for 30 minutes. Self-care isn’t always about wellness, it’s about what you can do to feel more grounded in your everyday life.

7. Connect with Local Caregiver Support Groups

Joining a local or online support group centered around your specific needs or your care recipient’s needs (e.g. dementia support group for Gen X family caregivers). Platforms like Eventbrite, Facebook groups, or local forums can help you find events or activities hosted by local caregiver groups, so you can connect with others facing similar challenges.

We know there’s no such thing as a stress-free holiday, but by trying out these detailed and actionable tips, we hope that you can have a lower stress and smoother holiday season. We wish you and your family a wonderful holiday!

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