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Caregiving Tips for Creating the Best Holidays Ever

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Dr. James D. Huysman

Caregiving / / December 23, 2014

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A caregivers job can become more strenuous than usual during the holidays. If you're feeling overwhelmed, here are some tips on how to relax, enjoy time with your loved ones and create the best holiday ever! 
 
ONE — Give yourself a wellness gift!
Give yourself a health and wellness gift. Get an overdue medical checkup and a massage. Join that yoga, stretching or craft class you’ve wanted to take. Set aside a “power nap” or go for a daily walk. Do you need to be assessed for anxiety or depression? Find a therapist. Join a support group. Taking care of your own personal health is the first step toward reducing any stress and strain for the season ahead.
 
TWO — Ask for help and be open to accepting it.
Asking friends or family members for help is often the hardest thing to do. As caregivers, we way too quickly accept the role of hero, martyr or savior. Too often we have a “go it alone policy” and believe that we must take care of everything ourselves - You don’t.
 
THREE — Find a friend or make a friendship even richer.
Engaging a friend for conversation, support or assistance for holiday activities is a wonderful approach to self care. Sometimes a friend is all we need. Pick up the phone! A safe sounding board can help alleviate stress. A good friend might even offer some respite time (don’t be afraid to ask) that can lift your spirits and make your holiday season more enjoyable.
 
FOUR — Strive not to take things personally.
No one can push our buttons quite like family members! It’s important to realize that they have their dramas and traumas too. Their words, though hurtful, may have nothing to do with you. In all likelihood, it is coming from ‘the illness.” Stinging words can often come from someone struggling with stressful challenges of their own.
 
FIVE — Identify a supportive community of friends, families or spiritual gatherings.
The holidays are a perfect time to celebrate your ‘family of choice’. Involvement with the world outside will reinforce the knowledge that you are part of a community of loving people who want to help because they care. Do not isolate! Stay connected to the world around you. If you avoid contact because you think you’d be a burden or that no one cares…Think again.
 
SIX — Plan your family’s activities with thought throughout the season.
Understanding roles and responsibilities is extremely important to maintain a healthy family dynamic. Ongoing family conferences throughout the holidays will help maintain necessary boundaries so that no one feels out of control or inadequate. Holiday family conferences are like tune-ups for the family car. This car needs to drive well, efficiently and for a long time. Schedule these conversations regularly before the wheels fall off.
 
SEVEN — Keep a gratitude list in a holiday journal filled with wonderful affirmations.
Make gratitude your personal goal throughout the season. Exercising gratefulness lightens the load and shifts your focus away from darkness and worry. Gratitude empowers you to see the great abundance that there is in being alive. This process will begin to inspire new avenues of thought throughout the holiday season and create a wonderful keepsake for you to treasure.
 
EIGHT — Find humor everywhere you go.
“Laughter Is the Best Medicine” is an old expression popularized by Norman Cousin’s book “Anatomy of an Illness,” in which he describes his battle with cancer and how he “laughed” his way to recovery. Laughter is a great tension-releaser, pain reducer, breathing improver, and elevator of moods. Humor is a great elixir to get us through difficult or stressful times. Can you find humor in being a caregiver during the holiday season? Make sure you find your own laughter to keep smiling in your own life. Your energy for others during this holiday season depends on energizing and empowering your own life force today. To have the best holidays ever, Take Your Oxygen First!
Categories: Caregiving, Holiday
About The Author
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James D “Dr. Jamie” Huysman, PsyD, LCSW is well-known for his work fiercely advocating on behalf of family and professional caregivers. From running a national caregiver support foundation, contributing to the AARP Foundation/NASW’s collective “New Guidelines for Caregivers of Older Adults” and co-authoring “Take Your Oxygen First”, to his expert videos on Caregiver Connections for UHC TV, he is a champion of behavioral health and a patient-centered medical culture that is prepared to meet the needs of those they serve.  A popular speaker, he works as VP of Provider Relations and Government Affairs for WellMed Medical Management.

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