The holiday season is stressful for many people – young adults, parents, family. It can also be a tough time of year for grandparents and other senior citizens. Even for folks looking forward to the memories that will be made when families gather for the holidays, there is much to be done and an overload of stimuli to encounter. Whether the stress comes from dealing with difficult family members, managing finances, cooking big meals, or simply battling all the emotional overwhelm – there are things that can be done ahead of time to minimize the impact for seniors.
There is no time of year more suited to going overboard than the months of November and December. Parties, and food, and presents, and decorations – wrapping paper and events and giving back to others – there is a ton to do but only a finite amount of time, resources and energy to get it all done. This can be especially true for the 60+ crowd.
It’s time to do a serious evaluation of what truly needs to be done. While everyone wants a Christmas tree, is it entirely necessary to decorate externally? Can you turn your big meal into a potluck opportunity? Where can you slim down when it comes to gift-giving? The true meaning of the season is not spending as much as possible and burning yourself out. It’s simply enjoying time with our loved ones and making memories that will last throughout the next year (and beyond).
Taking Care of YOU
Simple, but powerful, ways to reduce or eliminate stress involve all the things seniors need to remain healthy all year long.
- Drink plenty of water and eat regular, healthy meals to maintain your energy. Avoid too many of the holiday treats that will drain your system.
- Try to get a good night’s sleep more often than not so you can tackle your days without feeling exhausted. Plan to go to bed early, especially on nights where you know there is much to be done the next day.
- Don’t sit for prolonged periods of time. Get up and move occasionally – it’s good for your circulatory system.
- Wash your hands frequently. No one wants to catch a bug this time of year.
- Plan for some pampering. Whether it’s getting your hair done, or visiting your favorite massage therapist, plan in some down time just for you.
Manage Your Expectations
The quickest road to disappointmet this time of year is to put too many expectations on how things should happen. Resolve to let go of the need for perfection or to check off all the items on your list and allow things to just occur. Be present and in the moment as much as possible. Remember the real value of the holiday season and keep your eye on that prize.
Spend Time With People
For many families, this time of year is overrun with people – often friends and family you don’t get to see the rest of the year. However, this isn’t the case for everyone. For many seniors, this time of year can feel quite lonely. If you don’t have anyone to celebrate the season with, make plans to go and attend local events and interact with others. Accept invitations from people you know. Put yourself in places where the holiday spirit is flowing – attend a tree-lighting ceremony, invite your neighbors over for eggnog, use the computer to video chat with your loved ones, volunteer or sign up with a charity to give back.
Ask for Help
If you really have your heart set on continuing with all the family traditions, remember to ask for help. There’s nothing saying that you have to do it all yourself and enlisting assistance means more quality time with the people you care about. This is also an opportunity to teach the younger generation how you pull it off each year! That way, at some point in the future, you can feel confident in stepping down and handing the reins to someone else.
The key to surviving the holiday season for seniors is to come up with a plan ahead of time. What is really important? When will it happen? Who will help? Don’t forget to enjoy as much Christmas Spirit as possible along the way! We wish you the happiest holiday season yet!