Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Caregivers: 10 Gifts to Give Yourself This Holiday Season

The demands of caregiving can be overwhelming, especially if you feel you have little control over the situation or you’re in over your head. As the season for gift giving quickly approaches, take the time this year to give these ten gifts to yourself. They will not only make for a more enjoyable Holiday Season, but may also rejuvenate you into the New Year.

1. Take time for you
Take at least 30 minutes a day to do what you enjoy. Be it reading a book, go for a walk, or just sit in the tub, setting aside 30 minutes to decompress will do wonders. 

2. Start a Journal 
A journal is often a great way to release pent up emotions and clear swirling thoughts. This journal can be in the form of a public blog, a notebook "for-you-eyes-only". Whichever you prefer, the important thing is that you are able to relinquish some burden onto paper. Abraham Lincoln often did this; writing down his frustrations with another individual in the form of a letter and never sending them. 

3. Indulge in one of life's simple pleasures
Do you enjoy fresh cut flowers? Purchase or cut some. Do you enjoy the sound of rain or the crackling of a fireplace? Search for it on YouTube. These simple pleasures can give you a smile or allow you to let out a sigh, they are much worth it. 

4. Join a community group of caregivers either online or in person
Caregiver communities are not only a way to get you out of the house, but they also get you moving, provide a social outlet, and reduce feelings of isolation. Online groups offer the convince of touching base with people from all around the world with similar interests or problems on your own time, through email, websites, message boards, and social media. To start, join me each Monday at 4pmPT/7pmPT on Twitter at #Nurseup.  

5. Play a song from your youth
Just last night I heard the song, "Wind Beneath my Wings" by Bette Midler. To my husbands surprise, and my own, I couldn't stop myself from moving and singing along to all the lyrics. These songs not only bring back memories, but bring an uncanny joy.  

6. As for help or say "yes" when someone offers to help
Asking or accepting help is far from a sign of weakness, rather it's the sign of balance. Allowing for others to step in will create a tight-knit community of support for you and your loved on. If it takes a village to raise a child, how many does it take to care for an aging loved one?  

7. Visit with friends. 
If it is difficult to leave the house, invite friends over to visit with you over coffee, tea, or dinner. It’s important that you interact with others.

8.  Set up a regular check-in. 
Ask a family member, friend, or volunteer from your church or senior center to call you on a set basis (every day, weekly, or how ever often you'd like). This person can help you spread status updates and coordinate with other family members.

9. Find the silver lining. 
Think about the ways caregiving has made you stronger or how it’s brought you closer to person you’re taking care of or to other family members. Think about how caregiving allows you to give back and show your love. This can be used with other areas too. Make it a practice to make it a conscious decision to see the glass half full. 

10. Field-trip 
Some people find that enjoying nature and outdoor activities is very rejuvenating, or they stimulate their senses by visiting a museum, attending a concert, or taking a cooking class. What works for you? Invite friends or join a tour guide. These "field-trips" may be a nice monthly treat. 


  1. Leah,
    Love this post! You give some amazing ideas. I find allowing and receiving support to be so beneficial in terms of giving care to self. Thanks for a wonderful post!!