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Fighting holiday stress – a caregiver’s guide

We all know the feeling; the anxiety that creeps around in November and builds up as the year end approaches. If you’re a family caregiver, you know this stress all too well. Holiday parties, events, shopping and vacation planning are all top of mind for many people but for family caregivers, the added stress of making sure elderly friends and family are provided for can compound and intensify these feelings.

It’s a well known fact that caregiver stress, if not managed, takes a heavy toll on a person’s mental and physical health. Added to the stress that naturally arises around the holidays, and it’s a recipe for illness. At FirstLight, we know our caregivers’ health is just as important as the health and wellbeing of our clients. Here are a few tips from our caregivers on how they manage stress around the holidays.

• Figure out what is most important to you over the holidays and make time to do it. Is it trimming the tree? Planning parties with family and friends? Sending holiday greeting cards? Or maybe you prefer making gifts for loved ones or preparing special holiday treats. Whatever activities are most important to you are the ones you should make time to participate in. Doing something you love and find enjoyment from can help ease the stress. Here is an awesome chart from that can help you assess what is most important to you.

• Give yourself a break. Take the opportunity to enjoy the festivities by having another family member or a professional caregiver help with care. FirstLight now offers gift certificates for caregiving services that can be used year-round and are perfect for getting a little respite care.

• Remember that your physical health is just as important as your mental state. Many busy caregivers run on coffee and unhealthy snacks to get them through a long day. Keep colds away by staying hydrated, washing your hands frequently and eating balanced meals throughout the day. If you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, it’s never too late!

Most importantly, take a breath and remember that you’re not alone in your situation. To learn about support groups or find someone to talk to who understands, check out the Family Caregiver Alliance website to find a resource near you.

The team at FirstLight wishes you a safe and happy holiday season!

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