Becoming a caregiver for a loved one is a difficult role that can become especially difficult and overwhelming during the holiday season.
Caregivers can help make the holidays easier, however, by planning ahead. If your holiday gatherings usually involve traditions such as home cooked meals, hosting guests and gift giving, make lists and spread out the tasks of shopping and preparing.
This will allow you the opportunity to take short breaks. It is also okay to ask for assistance. Ask for help from friends and family members to help accomplish all the holiday tasks, from shopping to decorating to cooking.
If you are hosting a holiday meal at your house, have a potluck instead of cooking the entire meal yourself. Friends and family are often looking for ways to be helpful, and they will likely be happy to contribute to the meal.
For friends and family that have already begun inquiring what kind of gifts you want this year, suggest gifts that contribute to caregiving.
Foods that can go in the freezer, gift certificates or help with running errands all make wonderful gifts if your time and energy are limited.
You should also give yourself permission to create new traditions. Holidays don’t always have to be done the way they have in the past.
Be creative in making new traditions that are fun, meaningful and not too draining. Lastly, avoid over-committing during the holidays. It is okay to say ‘no’—put away time to take care of yourself and de-stress.
If at any time, you are beginning to experience exhaustion and/or extreme stress and anxiety because of your caregiving responsibilities, it is important to discuss this with your primary care physician or seek support services at your local health system.
Cone Health has an exceptional network of spirituality and support services offering assistance to individuals throughout the community who are struggling with the difficult responsibilities that often come with caregiving, especially through the holidays.
Terry Moore-Painter is the lead chaplain at Cone Health Cancer Center and an integral part of the center’s support services team.
After attending Wake Forest University for undergraduate studies, Moore-Painter earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
She has completed clinical pastoral education training and has worked in pastoral care for 20 years.