Navigating Caregiving During the Holidays

When the end of the year comes around, families usually begin to gather for the holidays. And no matter what you celebrate, the end of the year always brings about a sense of festiveness. As a caregiver, it’s important to find practical ways to navigate what can often be a busy season and time of year.

Caregivers Don’t Get Holidays Off

When you’re caring for someone, it can become a full-time job with no regular time off, even during the holidays. While others may be enjoying the holiday season together, it can be hard to muster the energy or even find the time to do so yourself. Things you once enjoyed may feel different now because you have a different perspective on life. It might be harder to get excited about things like you used to because all of your energy is focused on someone else day in and day out.

This time of year may feel no different than any other time of year, and that’s okay. Plus, if your family wants to spend this season together, it could even feel like an added stressor because of your caregiving responsibilities.

Let Others Know How You’re Feeling

It doesn’t help to keep what you’re feeling inside. It’s crucial to process and express the complex emotions you’re feeling, especially when you’re a caregiver.

If you’re feeling resentful that you can’t participate in family gatherings like you used to because your time is needed elsewhere, communicate that. And if you’re taking care of a family member and feeling overwhelmed because you would like other family members to pull their weight, share how you’re feeling with them.

When you let others know that you need help, you let them in, and it can not only strengthen your relationships but allow others to help you. Finding time for you while caregiving is essential so that you can give from a full place. 

Find Time for Meaningful Moments

If you can create time for yourself and find moments of meaning, you might find that you have more energy and aren’t feeling as stressed as you usually may feel.

Caregiver burnout is common, and the end of the year is a good time to reflect on how you’ve been operating, if you’ve been feeling exhausted, and if you need some time to reset. Small things like eating well, exercising, journaling, or seeing a friend can go a long way in helping you feel better and more like yourself.

When you’re caregiving the majority of the year, finding that time for you matters. And it can also be important to look ahead to the new year as new years can be synonymous with new beginnings. If your caregiving days have all felt blended together, taking some time this holiday season may be exactly what you need.

Also, remember that you’re not alone in your caregiving journey. Many caregivers feel the same way you feel, and you can find connections within support groups or by talking to a professional counselor.

Photo credit: Brigitte Tohm, via Pexels