Christmas and other seasonal celebrations can be a fun time but they can also be challenging for many people. Many essential services close over the festive period, which puts added pressure on carers to pick up the slack. Whilst everybody else appears to be taking it easy, carers often have to work even harder.
There are often a lot of commitments, expense and social gatherings which can make it difficult to keep up with the habits that make us feel festive. It is all too easy to eat, drink and spend more than we would like, which is not good for us and not good for those we care for.
Whatever your plans, please remember to be kind to yourself and stay safe.
Richmond Carers Centre has come up with some top tips to help ensure Christmas goes smoothly.
1. Put the cared for person at the centre of your plans
This may seem obvious. It is what most carers do every single day without giving it a second thought. If you can ensure your loved one’s needs are being met, there is a greater likelihood your celebrations will run smoothly and your loved one will be able to share the festive experience.
2. Ask for help
As a carer it is important you try and get a rest over Christmas too. If you have got friends and family who could help, even for a couple of hours, do not be afraid to ask them. Many people do not realise the impact caring can have but may be able to offer support if you explain it to them.
3. Check Christmas opening times
Some local and national services are limited over Christmas so you and the person you look after may find it harder to access support if you need it. Try and find out in advance which local services will be available. Think too about pharmacies and GP surgery opening times to make sure you have got all the medication you need to see you through to the New Year.
4. Stay warm and healthy
It is important for you BOTH to stay healthy and warm all through the winter but at Christmas, when services are not always available, it is worth taking extra care and being prepared. Additionally, it is a time when we come into contact with many different people, which increases the likelihood of germs spreading. NHS services have put together a fun animated video about staying well for the 12 days of Christmas.
5. Get a break, if you can
On top of your caring duties there are parties, work events, family get-togethers, shopping trips and catch-up coffees. Christmas can feel like a whirlwind with no time left for yourself. Finding time for YOU can be difficult at the best of times so when the holiday season rolls around we often forget to prioritise ourselves. By planning ahead and identifying simple ways to make me-time it can help alleviate some of the holiday stress.
6. Everything in moderation
Christmas seems to be all about excess. We seem to be encouraged to spend too much, eat too much, watch TV too much, drink too much. The best advice is moderation. Apply it to everything you spend, eat and drink. Drink moderate amounts of alcohol and try to alternate soft drinks or water with alcoholic ones to stay hydrated. As for food, have a bit of what you fancy but try not to stuff your face if you can help it.
7. Don’t compare yourself to others
You may have heard the saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” When carers compare their situations to other’s, it can literally steal the satisfaction they have in their lives. So don’t worry about what other people do or have over Christmas. Instead, practise gratitude. This is the perfect time to reflect on all the blessings in your life. A lovely tradition, which is becoming increasingly popular in many households is to have everyone write a gratitude list to hang from the tree.
8. Stay Active
Christmas is a wonderful time to indulge but there is no need to wait for the New Year to look after yourself and get active. Getting active does not have to mean a gym membership and a Peloton. It can be a walk with friends or a dance around the kitchen whilst roasting those potatoes. It can be family walk in the park, a game of fetch with your dog or a ‘race you to the end of the road’ with your children. However, you like to do it, physical activity is great for improving your mood and overall wellbeing. So, try to squeeze as much in as possible into your busy Christmas schedule.
9. Surround yourself with supportive people
We all know relatives, friends or acquaintances who always manage to say the wrong thing, trigger a negative reaction from us or drain us of our energy. It can be difficult to avoid these sorts of people at Christmas. Try to anticipate difficult situations and devise coping strategies. It might be as simple as choosing to quietly remove yourself from a stressful situation. Try to surround yourself with kind, loving and supportive people who can help to balance out the insensitivity of others who should know better.
10. It is OK to say, “No”
Carers responsibilities are challenging at the best of times. It important to set time aside amongst the festivities to rest and do what YOU want to do. Even if Christmas is your favourite time of year and you look forward to the social side of the celebrations, you can soon burnout before the big day has even arrived. The message here is not about denying yourself fun and enjoyment; rather it is about about pacing yourself.
11. Plan ahead
Down to the ground with a bump! – Once the big day is over you can feel a bit down in the dumps so plan a few things for the days between Christmas and New Year. A nice walk, or meet up with friends so there are still things to look forward to (for those with Children it will also break up the school holidays).
12. Be a friend
Sadly not everyone has a great Christmas. If you are able to, see if you can help out those less fortunate. Why not call or visit another carer to check they are OK? It is important that carers support each other. Something small can mean so much to someone else.
Richmond Carers Centre opening times over the holidays 2022/3
Our office will be closed from Friday 23 December 2022 and will reopen on Tuesday 3rd January, 2023
If you require urgent assistance during this period you can contact
Services available for anyone needing additional support over the Christmas period
Samaritans make sure there’s always someone there for anyone who needs someone.
Telephone 116 123 (Free from any phone at any time – 24/7)
Email firstname.lastname@example.org (Response time is 24 hours)
24/7 National Domestic Abuse Helpline
Telephone 0808 2000297
Mental Health Resources
Shout 85258 is a free, confidential, 24/7 text-messaging support service for anyone who is struggling to cope.To start a conversation, simply text the word ‘SHOUT’.
Kingston and Richmond Mental Health Team
Telephone 0800 028 8000
West London Mental Health Trust
Hounslow Single Point of Access (SPA) 0800 328 4444