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Tips for caregivers: Fighting holiday stress

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November 23, 2017

Everyday life is stressful enough for caregivers. Throw in the pressure to buy 127 gifts, bake a turkey and create a magical wonderland of joy and memories for the whole family, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Caregivers shouldn’t have to dread the holidays.

Here are a few quick, easy ways to plan ahead, slow down and get a time out when you can’t take one more fa-la-la.

Keep it simple – From the outset, decide what parts of the holiday are most meaningful for you and let the others fall by the wayside for this year. Keep up with the long-standing family traditions and skip the extra office party or the neighborhood’s Dirty Santa melee.

Delegate – You may feel like you’re the only one who can mash potatoes or put bows on boxes, but you’re not. Enlist the help of others so you can attend to the most critical – and enjoyable – things on your to-do list.

Avoid extra stressors – Some things have to be done. Fighting about politics with that uncle you see twice a year is not one of them. Babysitting the neighbor’s dog while they take holiday ski trip is not one of them. Actually, very few things absolutely have to get done. Pick and choose. Make yourself happy.

Get out – No, you can’t hop a plane to a tropical locale while the rest of the family battles over Monopoly. But you can take a 10-minute walk around the block, take some deep breaths, reset your patience and also fantasize about hopping that plane.

Make yourself merry – If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else. That doesn’t have to mean adding the extra stress of planning a spa day. It can mean sitting down with a cup of peppermint tea and a book instead of hustling one extra load of laundry. You spend the whole year caring for other people; give yourself a turn.