The holidays and the months following them can be a tough time of year for family caregivers, particularly those in colder climates. Winter weather can make it difficult to leave home, especially if the senior you are caring for has mobility challenges. Those caregiving for a loved one with a disease that impairs verbal skills may be exceptionally lonely.
Added to that are lingering concerns about being exposed to the coronavirus. Some people continue to avoid outings and gatherings where they aren’t sure of everyone’s vaccine status.
This can leave a caregiver feeling discouraged and isolated. As we head into the heart of winter, these tips might be helpful to caregivers looking for ways to avoid the post-holiday blues.
Ways Family Caregivers Can Prevent the Winter Blues
1. Eat well
Juggling caregiving duties with your own responsibilities can make life more than a little hectic. Even someone committed to following a healthy diet may struggle due to a lack of time. Fast food and convenience foods are quicker, but they only end up making you feel more tired and sluggish. They also contribute to health problems, such as weight gain, diabetes, and cardiac disease.
If you aren’t able to fit grocery shopping and meal preparation into your busy schedule, take advantage of home-delivered meal kits or curbside grocery pickup. Preparing and freezing foods in batches also helps.
2. Exercise daily
Sometimes busy can feel like exercise because it leaves you feeling like you’ve run a marathon. Unfortunately, the hustle of caregiving probably isn’t providing you with enough physical exercise. Fitness activities increase energy, improve sleep, and help beat stress. Each is essential for mental and physical health. Caregivers often find it’s easier on their schedule to workout 2 or 3 times a day for 10 or 15 minutes, rather than trying to find 30 uninterrupted minutes of time. The good news is that you can reap the same health benefits as you would exercising for 30 straight minutes. Walking, yoga, Pilates, and 10-Minute Beginner Zumba are all activities you can easily do at home.
3. Tend the spirit
Caregiving can create a rollercoaster of emotions. From joyfulness to sadness and fear, it can impact your mental health. Especially if you’ve been a caregiver for more than a few months’ time. Art projects, meditation, and journaling, can all help nurture the spirit. As can joining an online caregiver support group where you will find others going through similar experiences. In the midst of a dreary winter day, taking time to care for mental health is essential for caregivers.
4. Laugh more
We’ve all heard the saying that laughter is the best medicine. Unfortunately, caregivers might not have the opportunity to laugh very often. Another way to beat the post-holiday blues is by actively looking for ways to laugh more. Stream a movie or television show that you’ve always found funny. Movies like Private Benjamin or Clueless are ones you and your senior loved one could enjoy together. Buy a joke book or joke of the day calendar and start every morning by reading it. Humor can make tough days and difficult caregiving tasks a little less emotional for you and your family member.
5. See a doctor
Despite your best efforts at prevention, you might find yourself struggling this winter. For some people, it’s because of a condition known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Your doctor can help diagnose and find ways to remedy it. If your family doctor doesn’t already know it, make sure to inform them you are a caregiver under stress.
Respite Gives Family Caregivers a Break
One solution that can give caregivers an opportunity to rest and recharge their own health is respite. This short-term care solution is one families can utilize for a few days or even a few months. Call Sunrise Senior Living at (888) 434-4648 to learn more about the respite care options available near you!