Avoiding Holiday and Wintertime Stress for Caregivers

By Talia Giordano, MSW, LSW Gift of Life Howie's House Social Worker


Holiday months can be a stressful time with an increase in family and social gatherings and expenses. The following are some ways to enjoy the winter and holiday months and manage stress:

Continue to eat, drink and exercise as you normally would.

Good nutrition and exercise habits have an impact on how we feel about our self – physically and emotionally. When attending holiday parties and gatherings it is common to overeat or eat foods outside of our normal diet, which may impact how we feel physically. Colder weather may also make it more difficult to stay motivated to exercise. When eating out at parties, try pacing your intake and stick to foods that you know keep you feeling your best. Also, try doing exercises around the house, or look up YouTube exercise videos that meet your fitness level.

*Consult with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.

Spend wiser.

Many transplant caregivers and patients may experience money worries from taking unscheduled time off, leaving a job during transplant, or increased medication or medical costs. The holidays do not have to be about spending more money on family and friends, causing you to feel even more worried about finances. There are other ways to show you care.

Instead of giving gifts, try having family or friend “dates” doing things you enjoy together like a game night, arts and crafts, or small dinners. In addition to saving some money, you will also spend time with friends and family, which is a great way to improve your emotional well-being and reduce stress. Try researching “free activities for families in my area” for other ideas.

Relax and don’t forget about YOU.

It is not always easy finding time for yourself during the holidays. Make sure to schedule in “you time” to keep your spirits high and your stress low. Do something fun for yourself. Go for a walk outside, stay connected to your support networks, or schedule in an hour of “you time” a few days a week for doing whatever makes you happy. This could be anything from learning a new hobby or writing in a journal to watching your favorite TV show.

It’s ok to say “no”.

Just because you are invited to ten holiday outings does not mean you have to attend them all. Practice saying “no” and be realistic about  your schedule and time. Spreading yourself too thin could cause additional stress in your life which will make caregiving even more difficult. And if saying “no” is not so easy for you, instead offer to reschedule time with people for January since most people have much more free time then.

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