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Tips Offered for Destressing the Holidays

Many people enjoy the holiday season. Shopping for special gifts and wrapping them, sending greetings, searching for the perfect tree, putting up decorations, aromas of pine and cinnamon, observing one’s own traditions, family visits, church dinners, holiday get-togethers –each enticing the senses.

“For some of us who are providing care to a loved one, holiday activity can be challenging,” said Ann Koegler, services coordinator for Altenheim Resource & Referral Services in Wheeling. “We may be tired. Our nerves may be frayed.

“Perhaps we’re juggling caregiving with work and family, and the holidays represent a list of additional tasks that must be completed. How can we think of putting together a holiday dinner that’s part of our family tradition when all we usually manage is a frozen family-size dinner that we put in the oven for 35 minutes?” she said.

Holiday activities and caregiving can cause a huge conflict. “So, how can we create a less stressful blend? How can we modify our holiday celebration and traditions to create the least amount of tension?” she said, referring to common questions.

Koegler offered these tips for removing stress from the holiday season:

∫ Acknowledge your feelings. You may be sad or angry. Your life has changed. Be aware of what you’re experiencing, and talk to a friend or attend a support group. There are also online support groups. Maybe journaling would be helpful to you, listing what has happened during the day, writing about the good and the bad. Do you have a faith community? Talk to your pastor.

∫ Be realistic. ou may choose to hold onto a few of your family traditions but be open to creating new ones. The holidays don’t have to be like they were in the past. If you can’t cook the holiday dinner, maybe you could enlist family to share the responsibility of the holiday meal or perhaps you could order from the store or a local restaurant. Would another family member host the holiday gathering?

∫ Budget your time and your money. Perhaps you haven’t the time to shop for your family. Is your financial budget a bit tight? Gift cards can be purchased in varying amounts and from local stores. You could also donate to a charity in someone’s name. There are coupon books available that offer savings on dinners and services in the community. You may also want to consider starting a family gift exchange.

∫ Reach out and greet! This is where social media is your friend, or Jib Jab or any of the other electronic card programs.

∫ Send your holiday greetings via social media and save time and money. If you are more of a traditionalist, think about how to simplify holiday cards. Can you put your card list on address labels and save the file for future use? Would your family help you address and stamp your cards? Can you send fewer cards? What will be the easiest way for you to send holiday greetings?

∫ Learn to say no. Knowing when to say no is the greatest gift you can give yourself. You cannot keep all the balls in the air as you juggle your care receiver’s life, your life, your job and the holidays. Just say no. When you can’t say no to one task, determine what you can say no to and free up some time.

“It isn’t easy to be a caregiver at any time much less during the holiday season,” she said. “Try to take care of yourself as you care for your loved one, and be judicious in the commitments you make. Take responsibility for making your holiday season a little less stressful and whole lot brighter.”


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