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hands holding digital tablet pc and touching with finger in sunlightThe holidays are a busy time of the year, and for many people, including caregivers, stressful as well. There’s so much to do! Here are some ways to help make the holiday season more about joy and less about stress.

Get some help. When you’re a caregiver, you have a heavy load of responsibilities — your own and your loved one’s as well. Getting help from other family members and/or finding quality respite care or in-home care can be a great way to avoid caregiver burnout.

Scale back gift-giving. The process of searching for the perfect gifts, wrapping, sending, and delivering them all takes time and causes a lot of stress for many people. Others feel overwhelmed at the process of sending out all of those holiday cards each year. It’s OK to scale back and simplify (think gift cards!) gift-giving activities, even if you’ve always done things a certain way.

Start new traditions. Instead of focusing on what your loved one is unable to do this holiday season, try focusing on what they can do and establishing new traditions. For example, if your loved one has anxiety leaving the house or cannot get around as well as they used to, plan an indoor activity or consider a drive-through holiday lights display. Plan activities during the day instead of the evening hours for those who like to go to bed early or who aren’t at their best at that time. Plan quiet activities for those who can’t handle crowds and noise like they used to. Starting a new tradition with your loved one does not need to be expensive or complicated.

Make self-care a priority. It’s easy to forget self-care during the holiday season. As a caregiver, you give all year long. Don’t let the season of extra giving lead to burnout. Be aware of overextending yourself. Schedule time just to relax with a nice cup of tea and a good book or an activity that you enjoy. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night and for some amount of daily activity, like walking, each day.

Lower your expectations. Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself and others is a surefire way to have a stressful holiday season. Instead of overloading your schedule and worrying about decorations and meals, try taking it easy by picking up a takeout meal from a restaurant, having your home cleaned or taking a day off work. Don’t allow yourself to get so wound up in stress that you forget to prioritize what matters most.