Is it any wonder that upwards of 25% of caregivers suffer from self-induced stress over the holiday season? I was not at all surprised by that statistic, and actually I believe it is probably higher. Then I read that 65% of stress is due to family and in-laws! That puts a whole new twist on WHY caregivers by and large are at great risk of stress related emotional, physical and spiritual breakdown that starts in November and last for at least 2 months!
Self-induced stress is a result of our own uncontrolled thinking, or of mishandling issues that are NOT in our control. Inaction or simply not knowing how to handle situations and circumstances causes self-induced stress.
Christmas is loaded with expectations, isn’t it? Christmas shopping, decorating and entertaining. How many of us knock ourselves out trying to make it the “perfect” Christmas. Much of this stress comes on because we simply not being realistic and in doing so we set ourselves up for failure and disappointment.
Caregivers should give themselves a genuine gift of lowering expectations of yourselves and others, especially during the holiday season. If families are the source of so much undue stress, then let's contemplate a few things that might reduce or alleviate some self-induced stress:
- Make a promise to yourself that you will be satisfied with what does get done... and what does NOT get done. You may find that simplifying things is actually more enjoyable and you might be able to appreciate what the season means to you.
- Understand that family members are not going to step up to the plate. For some reason, caregivers often have false hopes that "this Christmas" will be different. How would it change your attitude if you just focused on what you are able to do, and not have any expectations at all from others?
- Don't stop healthy habits because you are too busy with holidaying. We all know that healthy routines and habits take dedication and being intentional about taking care of yourself. We also know how easily they can go by the wayside. Make a commitment to continue exercise, mindfulness, meditation, proper sleeping and healthy eating.
- You don't have to be a contributor to the U.S. Gross National Product! Financial strain is certainly self-induced stress, no matter what the situation. You control how many clicks on the "Pay" button!
Above all caregivers - remember that you simply can't pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first so you can care for those you love.
Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those that care for them.