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Caregivers need stress relief during holidays

Guest Editorial
Linda Wenzel, program manager, A.C.E. of Southwest Minnesota in Luverne

The holidays can be a time of mixed emotions and extra stress for caregivers.

To help reduce holiday stress, following are some suggestions for caregivers.

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of extra tasks and hassles that the holidays bring. Make it a priority to take a little time for yourself to sit quietly, relax and recharge. Taking brief timeouts can help you to be a more effective and efficient person.

Know your priorities. Take time to consider what gives you the most meaning and fulfillment, which will help you prioritize your activities, events and even people. That helps you focus your time and energy so you won’t feel so overwhelmed and drained.

Take care of yourself during difficult family interactions, such as spending time with family or others who criticize your caregiving or are unsupportive or unkind. 

If you do have conversations with unpleasant people, walk away as soon as you can and give yourself time to cool off and calm down before rejoining the group.

Make room for grief if you’re missing someone who has passed away. The holidays can be a challenge when you are missing someone important to you.

Consider setting a place at the table, have a moment of silence, or share favorite memories to honor them.  Give yourself permission to feel your emotions as they are and don’t feel obligated to participate in activities if the emotions are too overwhelming.

Practicing gratitude is a stress buster. To help you focus on positive moments, jot down three things that you are grateful for, do a quick gratitude exercise, or tell someone why you are grateful for them.

Keep reminding yourself that the holiday stress will pass. Keep reminding yourself that it will be over soon, and you have made it through every previous holiday season.

Focus on noticing and enjoying the positive moments.  You can even keep a countdown calendar and mark off each day as a visual reminder that you are getting closer to the end of the festivities.

Find reasons to laugh. Humor is a fantastic stress reducer and an effective way of coping with challenging situations. Watch a funny movie or show and play charades or have a sing-along.

Take a few moments for deep breathing, meditation or music. This will help your body relax and distress. Try a simple breathing exercise that can be done anywhere, anytime.  Other ways to help your body and mind release tension are to listen to music, do a quick workout, or stretch your body.

It’s important to have a self-care buddy, someone to talk to — in person, via phone or even by text.

Let a supportive friend know that you will be checking in with them when you’re feeling frustrated and need to vent. Reach out to your caregiver support group community or use the crisis support line.

Call 1-800-273-8255 to talk with someone or call the A.C.E. office at 507-283-5064 for more information about support we can offer locally.

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