Spending time with family during the holidays can be a double-edged sword. For some it’s a wonderful time to reunite but for others it can be a stressful time filled with lots of emotion. Here are some simple ideas to help us connect, and keep in mind the love of Christmas this holiday season.
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For me, spending time with family is the best part of Christmas but I know that is not how everyone feels. For some the holidays can feel stressful, depressing, and a reminder of everything we do not have versus everything we do.
I think we can change this scenario. I think we can learn to be grateful and accepting of our circumstances no matter what the situation.
Mood Lifting Strategies – No Matter The Season
Even though spending time with family is one of my favorite things to do, as a care partner I do experience occasional bouts of anxiety and feeling down. Caring for my partner who has Parkinson’s disease is not easy, for both of us, and sometimes we struggle with feeling anxious and concerned about our future.
That said, I have figured out some simple strategies to help lift my spirits and put things into perspective. They aren’t big huge task items, just small simple reminders there is a very big world out there, and everyone has their own worries and concerns.
5 Simple Strategies To Lift Your Spirits
Here are five simple strategies I use whenever I am feeling down.
- Take a deep breath. Life isn’t perfect. It never will be but if we can just stop, pause, and take a few deep breaths. This is the very first thing I do when I feel my emotions peaking.
- Look up. Sounds silly but I think it really helps. Sometimes we get so caught up in our little world, and it helps to look up to pull us out of this perspective. It helps us to zoom out and see the bigger world with a different viewpoint.
- Stretch. Nothing huge but a few neck rolls, raising arms overhead, twisting, and bending over to stretch your back and hamstrings. Brings blood flow and energy back into your body.
- Write about it. Put your emotions on paper. I find this is one of the most helpful techniques to clear my head. I write about how I use this tool here: The Best Mental Health Morning Routine for Care Partners.
- Sunshine, walk, one or the other, or preferably both together. Getting your face in the sun is a wonderful picker-upper. It doesn’t have to be long but looking up, closing your eyes, and allowing the sun to hit your face for a few minutes helps with vitamin D and other hormones. Walking always gets the endorphins going and it’s a quick way to regroup and recharge. So go grab a cup of herbal tea and enjoy a short walk with sunshine on your face and gratitude in your heart!
If you are feeling down, or the thought of spending time with family during the holidays has you anxious, I encourage you to give these strategies a try. They are very simple and easy, so they won’t take much time at all.
Joy Of A Child
Christmas is the time to bring out all of the pure fun and joy of a child. As an adult, and especially as a busy care partner, we get so busy working, caring, providing, and supporting, that we forget even how to play like a child. We lose that pure innocent joy children seem to hold in their hearts.
Have you ever stopped and watched a child play? Like really just sit and watch for a good 5-10 minutes? I think it is one of the most beautiful things to see. Eyes wide open, pure innocence on their faces, and a curiosity that seems to be limitless.
Adults can quickly gain perspective from watching a child play. And we too can learn to become open, curious, and inquisitive again.
Perhaps this Christmas season, it might be a good exercise to go to a park and watch the children play. Maybe this will inspire us to bring back that beautiful spirit of a child.
Fun Time With Family
If your family is like mine, you have a whole host of activities and traditions you like to do around the holidays, especially on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
Families incorporate these traditions again and again, each and every year. There may be specific movies to watch or games to play, all within the fun of the holiday spirit.
To give you an idea of some traditions you can incorporate into your holiday, here are a few suggestions. Some of them I do with my own family, while others I just might consider also implementing because they seem like they would be quite fun too!
Holiday Family Traditions
- Baking – of course, this one is at the top of my list because not only do I love to bake all year long but during the holidays I amp that up to another level! Baking cookies, pies, and other sweet treats is always a fun way to bring the family together.
- Jammies– buying matching festive pajamas for the entire family is always fun. Remember adults have the heart of a child, so don’t be shy about putting on the most gaudy festive pjs you can find!
- Games – always a favorite. From Monopoly and Scrabble to Pictionary and Charades. It is all in good fun. Just remember to keep the hard-core competitiveness at bay, and maintain that Christmas spirit. Currently, our family has been hard-core into Catan. If you’ve never played it, I highly recommend it.
- Walks – I heard about this one from a friend of mine. Every Christmas morning their entire family takes a walk, in their matching pajamas, with a fresh cup of coffee or hot chocolate. I love this idea, and I think I am going to have my own family start this Christmas morning tradition.
- Movies – there are so many wonderful holiday movies out there, from classics to contemporary. Watching movies all together is a great way to bond with friends and family.
Spending time with family doesn’t have to be anything fancy. The main thing is to stay open and flexible. If you’re family isn’t where you’d like it to be this year. That is okay. If you’ve tried and you feel like your family is unhealthy or it wouldn’t be healthy for you to participate in being around them, well that is a whole different story, and good for you to know your limits and have boundaries.
In a perfect world, family should be a safe and special place to come home to. But if that is not your reality, then I say create your own family with just one friend or many. I very much believe family, and home, is where your heart is.
If you do spend time with family this Christmas, I pray you find peace and happiness there. As Mother Teresa once said; “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”
Sometimes just rising above it all, without thinking or comparing, can make a big difference. Just rise. And I would be willing to bet, your family just might rise with you.
Merry Christmas, and as YOUR friend, I wish you a very happy holiday.
Supportive And Helpful Tools For Caregivers
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VIDEO: Enjoy this fun video, Time With Family During Christmas Week
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