Although the holidays can be a joyous occasion, they can also cause our lives to become more hectic and stressful. Caregivers can become overwhelmed by continuing to take care of their service member while also trying to make this time of the year special and memorable. Below are some suggestions to help you make it through the holiday season.
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with caregiving duties
Sometimes the things you’re most grateful for are not material things, but help. During the holiday seasons there seem to be more things to do each day, and less time to get it done. Don’t be afraid to make your wish list with caregiving activities on it. Talk to your family and friends about helping you out with running errands, taking service members to appointments, or helping you out around the house. Remember that you need to take care of yourself to, so let your loved ones pitch in this holiday season.
2. Recognize the signs and symptoms of burnout
During the holidays your stress level may reach an all-time high trying to juggle caring for your wounded warrior as well as everything that the holidays entail. Lookout for signs of becoming overwhelmed. If you reach the point of becoming overwhelmed try some mindfulness techniques to refocus your attention and move past the stress.
3. Simplify your holiday activities
The hype of the holidays and the buildup we create with our imaginations is difficult if not impossible to actually manage and maintain. Change your expectations to something that you can obtain without adding more stress to your life. Set limits to help you manage this time. If you are preparing a holiday meal, try choosing foods that are simpler to cook, try crockpot meals, eat out or order a prepared meal.
4. Consider making new holiday traditions
Traditions are wonderful and can be something to look forward to, but sometimes they can become too overwhelming. If this is the case consider starting a new tradition that suits where you’re at better. Go easy on yourself and understand that as a caregiver you are creating a ‘new normal’ which will inevitable cause some changes.
5. Be aware of and anticipate triggers from your service member
Although the holidays are meant to bring joy and happiness, sometimes the holidays may trigger stress and unhappy memories for your service member. Be mindful and acknowledge their emotions as well as yours. Service members may feel anxious in large holiday crowds; and they may even trigger negative emotions because your service member may no longer be able to participate in the same ways they were accustomed to. Try to stay focused on the positive and remember how thankful you are that they are with you, especially during the holidays.
This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on December 4, 2015.