By Veronica Mitchell | The curiosities of life
Getting through the holiday season can be stressful even in the best of times. Gathering with family and friends to celebrate religious and non-religious traditions can create taxing situations. Caregiving for loved ones is challenging and difficult, when you add holiday strain it can seem unmanageable.
There are ways to get through the holidays and enjoy them simultaneously by building resilience in your life. Resilience requires acceptance, gratitude and letting go of expectations which all lends to better aging, getting through life (holidays included). Accept people and situations as they are in the present moment.
Let go of your expectations with others and focus on yourself. Be mindful of your own stress and that of loved ones in your care. Take moments to breathe, meditate and relax as needed.
Plan and organize, but then know that things may go awry, because that is life. Being flexible in your thinking is part of being a resilient thinker. I call it an “adjust-as-you-go mentality,” which means you accept the moment, do what you can and move forward.
Taking care of seniors, disabled guests and people with a diagnosis of some kind (behavioral, mental, physical, dietary) can involve adjusting your plans, menu and even furniture to prevent accidents, illness and make the holidays more enjoyable for all.
Hiring caregivers can be an option — always vet (background check) and hire a company for your protection.
Alcohol service in your home is your responsibility. Never allow underage drinking and always provide a designated driver. Don’t overserve guests, because there is great exposure to liability. Many seniors are on several medications, so serve them alcohol with caution.
Set boundaries and budgets. Why say yes to something you can’t or don’t want to do during the holidays? Learning to say no is a gift you both give yourself and to others. You’ll genuinely give of your personal time without expectations or feelings of obligation when it’s something you want or can do.
The holidays have a way of getting out of hand sometimes, so remember they should be about the memories and time spent, not the money.
Have empathy for others that might struggle during this season. Some people have outlived their loved ones; some have just lost a loved one; and others struggle with depression year-round and it’s more extreme during the holidays. Be considerate, generous of spirit and aware of others throughout the holiday season.
Remember many families are dealing with loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues that can contribute to additional strain on the caregiver and their loved ones.
Have activities, a quiet room and plenty of areas for someone to rest during the festivities of the holidays. Create safe spaces for your guests, but most importantly, enjoy yourself. You’ve planned and done your best for everyone to have a great time and you’ve got to have one, too!
Have fun, enjoy the exchange with others and be kind. Respect others and their traditions or non-traditions. Turn off the electronics unless it’s music or video.
Create your family traditions and memories of your lifetime.
Be present in the moments of your life. Memories are built in the living of life. Living in the moment requires mindfulness, acceptance and flexibility of the mind to move forward.
Happy holidays to all and to those that don’t celebrate holidays, take what you will and enjoy!
— Veronica Mitchell is a San Diego-based writer, consultant and speaker and a caregiver for her aging parents. She writes and speaks on aging, elder abuse prevention, caregiver issues and building confidence. To learn more visit veronicamitchell.com or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.