It’s no exaggeration to say that 2020 has been an extraordinarily tough time for many, but as the year winds down, we get the chance to pause, reflect, and spend time with people we love over the festive season. Christmas is a perfect opportunity to reconnect with those we may have drifted from during lockdown. For caregivers especially, Christmas can be a time to engage in much needed self-care, relaxation and connection. Here are some ideas to make sure your December is a peaceful, recuperative time.
Consider respite care
If you’re a caregiver or even a professional carer, chances are you love the work you do. While it can be incredibly rewarding to support those who need it most, it’s also important to make time for yourself and regularly recharge your batteries. A great idea is to seek temporary respite care from a trusted home care group – a respite care worker can step in for one or two weeks to suit your circumstances, giving you time to reconnect with your family, and catch your breath.
It’s very common for caregivers to find it difficult to “switch off” from their duties, so it’s worth choosing a stand-in respite carer you really trust to carry on all the normal routines in your absence. Carers need care too! Of course, a respite care worker can offer support any time of year, not just over the holidays. You could make respite care a more regular part of your caring plan or even call on a respite carer for help in cases of emergency or illness.
Whatever your exact needs, remember that you’re never alone, and there is always someone to reach out to. You may find that sharing some of the load means you can pick up again feeling so much more rested and engaged.
Keep things simple
It’s a little ironic that Christmas time – when we’re all supposed to be resting and enjoying ourselves – is so often taken over by the stressful planning that comes with organizing meals, gifts, decorations, and family visits. However, given the events of the Covid-19 pandemic, not to mention a stressful year in general, it might be wise to go a little easy on yourself and commit to keeping Christmas planning stress to a minimum.
Whatever lockdown restrictions look like come December 25th, why not dial things back a little and have a small, intimate Christmas instead of one that will leave you feeling even more burnt out than when you started? It’s not too difficult to enjoy a lovely meal, a few gifts, some Christmas cheer and good company without spending too much money or getting stressed out with shopping and complicated meal prep.
Give yourself some down time
Many carers take on a lot and work hard – sometimes a little too hard. But being with loved ones over Christmas can remind us what’s really important, and allow us to decompress so we can really enjoy the work we care so much about. Though stress and anxiety may be at the front of your mind, practice some self-compassion and give yourself a break.
Have a nap, indulge in a good book, go for long walks, prepare a meal with a friend or enjoy a little treat like a cup of hot chocolate or a bit of pampering. It’s all about slowing down and recalibrating. Your caregiving responsibilities are likely to pop into your head while you’re on leave, but try to gently set these thoughts aside and focus instead on self-care. After all, life and all its obligations will still be there when the Christmas holidays are over – and you can get back to them, then!
Caregivers can sometimes become wrapped up with being emotionally supportive for others that they forget to stop and check in with how they’re coping. The end of the year holiday season is a good time to stop and take stock of where you are. It may be necessary to reach out and ask for a little help or support from a professional if you’re dealing with heavier emotions, but don’t underestimate the value of simply opening up to a friend or loved one about how you’re feeling. Reconnect with your own support network and allow others to take care of you for a change!
About The Author
Lily is a freelance writer focused on mental health and family relationships. From a young age Lily has been passionate about the importance of social connection. When she isn’t writing, she can be found walking her cocker spaniel or getting stuck into a new baking recipe.