Family Caregivers – Taking Care of Yourself During the Holidays


Taking care of yourself during the holidays can seem overwhelming in addition to all of your other responsibilities.  Whether you have aging parents, family members who need regular extra attention, or have an autistic child, you need to carve time out for yourself, at all times, but especially during the stressful holiday season.  While it can be challenging to follow your normal routine during the holidays, routines are essential for success, especially in families with autistic children.  During this busy holiday season, give yourself permission to lean on others so that you can take care of yourself and tackle that holiday to-do list.  Consider the following tips to help you maintain a stress free holiday season and support those that count on you the most.

  1. Exercise regularly.  Exercise provides not only physical benefits, but mental benefits as well.  Studies show that even 25 minutes of aerobic activity can reduce stress levels and boost your mood.  Give yourself permission to take a break from caring for your loved one, even in several short intervals, and you will notice the difference it can make in your interactions.
  2.  Plan Meals.  Cooking for your immediate family while caring for your loved one can feel impossible some days.  Once a week, double the recipe that you make for dinner and freeze it.  Or, some people prefer to do all of the cooking on the weekend when other family members can pitch in and offer extra help.  Finally, take turns when you can.  Your spouse or your children can have an assigned night to cook, so that you can take the night off from cooking, guilt free.
  3.  Take a break.  Accept that offer from a friend who asks, “How can I help?”  Let other people help you with your loved one, whether it is staying with your family member or running an errand for you.  Let others support you; it’s okay to say yes, especially during the holidays.
  4.  Online shopping.  Take advantage of those free shipping offers and avoid countless trips to the mall.  Have family members be specific about gift requests and provide you with links to order.  Presents arrive at your door saving you countless hours in the car and frustration when you’re shopping.
  5.  Be kind to yourself.  Realize that this year you may need to buy the cookies instead of baking them.  Let yourself say no to what is not essential in your life right now.  Focus on what is important in your life today, your family.  Ways to serve others will always be available; recognize that you are serving within your family.
  6.  Laugh.  Listen to a funny radio broadcast while you are in the car, or check out your favorite comedian on YouTube. Caring for a loved one can be draining. Laughter can restore your energy quickly, and studies show that laughter reduces our stress levels and aids in better sleep.




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