Holiday season guide for caregivers and those who rely on a helping hand

As the holiday season approaches, it’s essential to recognise the challenges it brings alongside the celebrations. This time of year can be particularly demanding for people with disabilities and their caregivers.

Juliet Middleton, CEO of allied health and assessment services provider LiveBig, says: “Over the Christmas break, as businesses temporarily close their doors, clients with disabilities experience a shift in their usual support routines.

“Allied health clinicians typically recommend exercises and activities to sustain engagement during this period, but the absence of face-to-face appointments can heighten the sense of isolation.

“Furthermore, with family and friends often away for the holiday season, individuals who typically rely on their presence may encounter intensified negative emotions and an increased loneliness.”

Ms Middleton says it’s also essential for caregivers to take time for themselves and plan for self-care during this busy season. Ensuring that everyone gets the rest they need is of utmost importance.

To help manage these challenges, Ms Middleton suggests we think of self-care as putting on our own oxygen mask first before helping others.

“Just as it’s essential for your safety on a plane, it’s equally important in life,” she says. “You can’t provide care and support to other people if you neglect your own health and wellbeing.”

Self-care tips

LiveBig offers the following self-care tips to help people with disabilities, their families and caregivers during the holiday season.

Self-care is vital: Self-care is not a luxury it’s essential for people with disabilities and their caregivers. Engaging in intentional self-care enhances overall health and wellbeing, preventing stress and anxiety, building resilience, alleviating mental health symptoms, and promoting physical health and improved sleep.

Knowledge and health literacy: Prioritising self-care starts with knowledge and health literacy. Understand your unique health and wellbeing needs to have your manual for self-care. This self-discovery journey empowers informed choices, ensuring your wellbeing is a top priority.

Mental wellbeing matters: Nurturing your mental health through such practices as mindfulness and meditation is as crucial as physical exercise. Taking care of your mind is essential for overall wellbeing and complements physical self-care practices.

Balanced nutrition and wise choices: Balanced nutrition fuels your body efficiently. Making wise choices, such as avoiding harmful substances and risky situations, plays a significant role in self-care. Maintaining a healthy diet is an essential aspect of self-care. Personal hygiene acts as your protective shield against germs and illnesses.

Practise HALT daily: Use the HALT acronym to regularly check in with yourself. Ask if you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. Address these needs accordingly – eat if hungry, find ways to release anger, connect with others if lonely, and rest when tired. It’s a simple but powerful way to ensure your wellbeing.

Prioritise focus over multi-tasking: Instead of multi-tasking, focus on one task at a time for efficient performance. Choose your top two priorities daily, set dedicated time, work in intervals, block distractions, manage stress and practise being in the moment to boost your effectiveness.

Moderate digital engagement: In our hyper-connected world, digital engagement can introduce stressors. Embrace moderation by incorporating micro-habits, monitoring screen time, creating screen-free spaces and considering a digital detox to nurture your wellbeing.

Establish boundaries and empower yourself: Empower yourself by setting boundaries and learning to say no when necessary. Protect your time and wellbeing without guilt by learning various ways to communicate your boundaries. While staying connected with friends and family is important, it’s equally vital to listen to your body and know your limits, especially during social gatherings. Plan your schedule in advance to include time for rest and relaxation.

Plan ahead: When organising transportation, consider accessibility requirements for individuals with disabilities and prebook accessible modes of transportation such as taxis. Ensure electric wheelchairs are charged to reduce worries and enhance enjoyment during breaks.

Ms Middleton says: “Self-care doesn’t require a full weekend away but can be as simple as taking five minutes for yourself each day. By nurturing your wellbeing, you ensure that you can find your joy during the festive season.”

LiveBig is a specialist allied health and assessment services provider for people with disability, including those on a NDIS plan.

Do you have extra challenges during the festive season? Do you concur with the tips above to practise self-care? How else do you manage this time of the year? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Also read: How gratitude lists can transform your wellbeing

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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