With the holidays upon us I’m often asked “Paula, why do the holidays seem so much more stressful for seniors? Why does it feel so extreme?”
Well, just think about it. Shopping, cooking, cleaning, hosting family, spiraling costs, etc.! It’s enough to take the fun out of any holiday – especially for seniors.
And face it, society has changed. Families are more spread out than ever before, so now when your kids (and grandkids) say they’re coming for the holidays, we’re not talking about an afternoon, we’re talking about staying for a week!
There are also the financial worries. Many seniors live on a fixed income and need expensive medications to keep them well and healthy. And we all know that healthcare costs are skyrocketing and seniors are getting hit hard. So the thought of spending hundreds of dollars on presents is NOT joyous – it’s anxiety provoking!
The reality is, sometimes seniors just don’t have the interest or energy to take on all that goes into making a holiday special. All that cooking, decorating and shopping that used to be fun?! NOT so much anymore! And trying to pretend you still care or can take on that much responsibility for the holiday can be stress inducing.
SO WHAT DO WE DO? HOW DO WE MAKE OUR HOLIDAYS MORE ENJOYABLE?!
I say – START BY GIVING YOURSELF PERMISSION TO SIMPLIFY! And there are lots of ways to do that:
If you haven’t sent out your cards yet – DON’T! If you are computer literate, send out e-cards or holiday emails. If not, forget about it. The stress people put on themselves to send out cards is simply unnecessary and takes the fun out of the season.
Say ‘YES’ to saying ‘NO’! Only go to gatherings and parties that you really want to. Only attend the ones that interest you and feed your soul. Don’t go out of a sense of duty. There is simply no need!
Give ONE present per person on your list! Consider a gift card for adults. Give children a coupon to spend an afternoon with you! The coupon can be for watching a movie together with popcorn or baking cookies and giving them your favorite recipe. Sometimes life’s simple pleasures are the best!
If family is coming ‘from away’ consider suggesting a local hotel or AirBnB. Kids get restless after a while and it can be exhausting and stressful. If your family doesn’t have the money for that – invite them to stay for 3-4 days. A week is a long time for families to be together. You simply don’t have to.
In addition to simplifying, the most important thing to do during the holidays is take care of YOU. Work on your ‘To Do’ list first thing in the morning when you have the most energy. Eat well, sleep well and limit alcohol intake. Unless you have issues with balance and walking – get out with a friend for a short walk in the sunshine and fresh air. Bundle up and get going!
By taking these steps, and focusing on simplification and taking care of yourself, you’ll simply feel better and have much more FUN! That’s what the holidays are all about!
If the stress of the Holiday season is too much for you or a family member, call Paula Banks for guidance today at (207) 329-9080.