The sun has faded, the leaves have changed, and winter is here. With the winter comes chilly days, longer nights, and a season of busy-ness surrounding the holidays. When we consider the holiday season, we often assume it will be a time of peace and joy, and they definitely can be. As fun and exciting as it is to spend more time with family, give gifts joyfully, and partake in the spirit of the season, for many, the holidays are the opposite of peace and joy. They can bring extreme stress, unwelcome social obligations, and financial burdens.
The good news is that it is possible to find that inner peace and joy during the holidays, even as schedules become chaotic, financial obligations become burdensome, and family politics become stressful.
Learn more about why the holidays are hard for seniors, how you can overcome the stress of the season, and how moving to a senior living community can help you better manage stressful seasons, like the holidays.
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Understanding Why the Holidays Can Be Difficult for Seniors
From overspending to overeating, the holidays can be hard for anyone. A survey from the American Psychological Association evaluated how holiday blues affects Americans. They found that while most people surveyed were in high spirits over the holidays and felt happy and loved, those positive emotions were often accompanied by fatigue, stress, irritability, bloating, and sadness. Thirty-eight percent of survey participants said that they experienced increased stress during the holidays, feeling a lack of time and money, pressure from gift-giving, and increased time with distant relatives.
The holidays are stressful for adults across generations. However, the hustle and bustle of the season can be extremely challenging for seniors. In addition to the normal stress of the season, the holidays can be a nostalgic time, bringing increased feelings of grief and loss as precious memories flood everyday life. This can be hard for seniors who have experienced the loss of a spouse or partner and are facing reminders of past holidays.
The holidays can also increase feelings of senior isolation and loneliness as the season become busy for others. Seniors who are used to attending social functions during the holidays may find that the holidays are less busy than they used to be, which may increase feelings of loneliness.
Additionally, as financially burdensome as the holidays can be, they can be even more stressful for seniors who are living on a fixed income. Retirees who once spent extravagantly may now be watching their budget more closely and may fear disappointing family members accustomed to giving at a certain price point.
5 Tips to Understanding How to Find Peace During the Holidays
Even with all these stressors, there are simple ways to navigate the holidays that can lead to peace and a greater understanding of family and friends. These five tips can help you find peace in a chaotic holiday season.
1. Let go of your expectations
With the passing of time can come big changes. Families evolve, babies are born, people pass. Accepting the reality that time changes holiday traditions can help you overcome feelings of stress. Begin to look for the exciting new things of the season instead of focusing on days past. Embrace a new generation and start new traditions while sharing your own treasured holiday memories. It can be a healing experience for you and telling your stories can bring generations together, building a family legacy.
It’s okay to miss what was, but do not let your focus on the past steal the joy of the present.
2. Don’t be afraid to say no
If a certain holiday tradition is too raw or painful after the loss of a partner or spouse, let people know. If traveling for the holidays is too expensive or burdensome, say no. This is a season of giving but you can not give what you do not have. To enjoy the season to its fullest, you will have to say no to certain social obligations. Additionally, especially during the holidays, many social obligations bring financial obligations.
Be open about your limits and say no to events and gatherings that steal joy and do not otherwise enhance your life.
3. Set boundaries in gift-giving
While buying gifts may be fun, dealing with credit card debt after the holidays is not. It’s very easy for holiday spending to get out of control quickly. While it’s tempting to go all out for the holidays, especially for grandchildren, consider setting (and sticking to!) a budget. Communicate this limit in advance and do not waiver from it, as tempting as it is to buy just ‘one more gift.’
It may also help to give experiences, rather than gifts. Planning a family trip or a trip with grandchildren in the summer can help delay expenses and spread joy throughout the year. It can also give both grandparents and grandchildren something to look forward to long after the excitement of the holidays has worn off.
Plan a simple day at the zoo or a more extravagant summer vacation in Europe. Either way, take control of your budget and spend accordingly to reduce financial stress.
4. Focus on self-care, not self-indulgence
It’s just as tempting to overspend during the holidays as it is to overindulge. From parties with sweet drinks to neighborhood cookie exchanges, there is no shortage of sugar around the holiday season. However, sugar intake has been linked to increased stress levels, anxiety, and weight gain.
Instead of using the holidays as an excuse to eat and drink unhealthy amounts, take the time to slow down and understand the impact seasonal indulgences can have on your health. Take a daily walk, drink more water, and limit sweets to reduce the stress and chaos of the season.
Indulge moderately and prioritize self-care over self-indulgence to stay healthy and reduce stress during and after the holidays.
5. Be open about what you are feeling
Ultimately, understanding your personal boundaries during the holidays leads to peace. Once you understand those boundaries, you will need to let others know them. Aside from communicating your boundaries, let others know if you are feeling lonely or excluded. If memories feel overwhelming, let a trusted friend or family member know that this is a tough time.
Don’t be afraid to let others know how you are feeling. You may find that you are not alone!
How Moving to a Senior Living Community Cultivates Peace and Understanding
Moving to a senior living community is a great way to combat feelings of loneliness and gain a greater understanding with age. Living with others in the same stage of life who understand your journey can help you avoid feelings of social isolation and loneliness. It can lead to new hobbies and new interests, helping you form new memories and meaningful relationships to get you through more stressful times, like the holidays. Additionally, senior living communities are well equipped to help residents celebrate holidays together, regardless of being near friends and family.
Leisure Care has senior living communities all over the country ready to celebrate holidays in a big way while patiently working through complex emotions in a difficult season. Contact Leisure Care today and let us help you come home for the holidays!
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