Senior spotlight: 7 tips to help with holiday stress

Two seniors embrace in holiday apparel while their children smile in the background. Holidays can be a time of great joy. But sometimes seniors may experience holiday stress different from their younger family and friends. Here are tips to help reduce that stress and enjoy the holidays.

We may love the holidays, but that doesn’t mean they are easy. For seniors, holiday stress can be heightened in a way that’s tough for younger family and friends to understand. Here are some tips to help seniors enjoy a more stress-free season.

1. Be open to change.

Children grow up. In-laws and significant others join family events. People move away. This may mean family members push for new traditions or changing where the family gathering happens. Being willing to try new things can make it easier to enjoy time together.

2. Celebrate those you’ve lost.

Holidays can be difficult after losing a friend or loved one. Remember that you’re allowed to be sad, even in the holiday season. Look for ways to honor those who can’t be with you. You might continue a tradition they cherished, share memories, or pull out old photos. Whatever you do, embrace your emotions and share them with the people around you.

3. Protect your time.

Your routine matters, even while hosting guests or visiting family. Talk to your family about maintaining a schedule for meals, rest, and anything else that is important to you. This can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and make for more enjoyable time together.

4. Remember you don’t have to do it all.

Do you stretch your budget thin trying to buy gifts for everyone? Does the pressure of hosting big parties take a toll? Don’t be afraid to tell friends and family that you need some help. Propose a gift grab bag to reduce the cost of presents. Ask if someone else wants to play host this year. Sharing the load takes the strain off you and gives others a chance to pitch in.

5. Go digital.

Maybe you can’t travel because of weather or health concerns. Today there are ways to stay connected even when you’re apart. Use a video messaging program on your laptop, tablet, or mobile phone so you can see friends and family. Set it up in advance so you don’t miss any of the fun. Need tech support? Check out the resources of your local senior center, public library, or computer store.

6. Find a way to celebrate.

If you can’t be with family, there are other ways to enjoy the season. Volunteering can give you a happiness boost, especially around holidays. Chat with friends to see if anyone else is flying solo and plan to meet up. Take yourself out to dinner and a movie or see if there are events in town. Being around people, even strangers, can help you feel festive and may even lead to some new traditions.

7. It’s okay to say no.

It can be overwhelming to be around many people or rush from one gathering to another. Don’t feel obligated to join in every celebration if it feels like too much. The people you care about will understand your need for down time, and it will make the time you do spend together more precious.

Get help when you need it.

If your holiday stress becomes something more, reach out for help. Call family and friends and tell them what’s going on. ConnectiCare members can get support using the behavioral health benefit through Optum. Call 1-888-946-4658 or visit liveandworkwell.com (online access code: connecticare).

References: https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/holiday-grief-and-stress, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/help-seniors-avoid-holiday-stress, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544, https://www.silversneakers.com/blog/simple-ways-slash-holiday-stress

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