Let’s face it – the holidays aren’t always bright and cheerful, especially if you are a caregiver. While some aspects of the holidays can bring comfort and connection to those who are caregiving, the holidays also require a lot of energy – something in short supply in a caregiver’s life. Holidays can also invoke memories of years past that clash with the reality of current caregiving situations.
If you are a caregiver, I encourage you to take extra good care of yourself during the holidays. I know – this can sound like more of a burden than something that is actually good for you. How in the world will you find time to take care of yourself? But coming up with a self-care plan can be like a flu shot. The shot isn’t exactly heaven, but it’s worth it when compared to the trauma encountered later when you actually catch the flu. Likewise, developing a plan to care for yourself now can prevent exhaustion and emotional difficulties later on.
© Hanna Zalbieska
Here are six easy steps to a self-care plan for the holidays:
- Take an index card or piece of notebook paper and with a pen or pencil, divide it into four sections.
- In the top left box, jot down a few things you can do to maintain your physical well-being during the holidays. For instance, you might write, “Walk for 20 minutes 3 times a week,” or “Lay off the alcohol!”
- In the top right box, note a few things that can help you maintain your emotional well-being. For example, you might write, “It’s okay to cry” (which it is) and “It’s okay to have fun” (which it is, even though caregivers might feel guilty about this).
- In the bottom left box, jot down something that nurtures your spiritual well-being. This might be a verse from a religious text, a poem, or a reminder to attend certain spiritual or religious events in your community.
- In the bottom right box, note some things that can help you maintain your social well-being, because it’s important not to become isolated. You might write down the details of any caregiver support groups meeting during the holidays, or you might make a vow to have coffee with a close friend.
- This is your holiday self-care plan. Put it in your purse, wallet, or any place you will see it regularly.
Having a tangible self-care plan increases your chances of taking better care of yourself during the holidays while still managing caregiving responsibilities. And that means enhanced well-being, both during the holidays and beyond.
If you try this, let me know how it goes. And please have a very blessed holiday season.