Tips to Manage Holiday Stress

Holiday Stress

By Pam Gennings, Executive Director Special Projects*

The holidays can be demanding, overwhelming and for some, down right depressing. Bombarded with expectations and so many things to do, it is easy to fall victim to holiday stress.

If you let the stress of the holidays get to you, it is hard to stop and regroup. The key is to take steps to prevent stress or depression from occurring in the first place. Here are a few tips that just might help you get through the holidays.

  1. Be realistic: The holidays don’t have to be perfect!
  2. Set aside differences: Try and accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. As my dear mother-in-law used to say, “People aren’t always going to do to suit you.” Even if for one day, steer clear of topics that tend to cause upset in the family.
  3. Reach out: If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out social events. Volunteering your time to help others can lift your spirits and perhaps broaden your friendships.
  4. Acknowledge your feelings: If you can’t be with loved ones, or if someone close to you recently died, it is normal to feel sadness and grief. It is OK to take time to cry and express your feelings.
  5. Stick to a budget: Merchants start offering holiday sales earlier and earlier and the urge to overspend can be very tempting. Before you go shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend and stick to that amount.
  6. Plan ahead: Pick days you are going to shop, bake, decorate, gift-wrap, etc. Plan your menus so you can make a shopping list. You don’t want to have to run to the store for those last minutes items you forgot.
  7. Learn to say no: Saying yes to every project or activity can make you feel very resentful, overwhelmed and even take the joy out of the holidays.
  8. Don’t abandon healthy habits: Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Eat healthy snacks, get plenty of sleep and try and incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
  9. Take a breather: Make some time for yourself. Find something that can restore your inner calm.
  10. Seek professional help if needed: Sometimes your best efforts still leave you feeling persistently sad or anxious. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor.

It is important to recognize the holiday triggers that cause you stress or depression, and combat them before they lead you to a place where you lose the peace and joy of the holiday season.

Excerpts from Mayo Clinic, Healthy Lifestyle

 

*Pam Gennings has a Bachelor’s of Arts and has worked in the field of Geriatric Social Work and Care Coordination for more than 30 years. She started working for Oxford HealthCare in 1993. During the course of her career she has helped thousands of people find resources to remain in their homes as well as provided guidance to families that were facing difficulties with their aging loved ones.

 

Coping with Grief and Loss During the Holiday Season

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By Renee Jenkins, MSW, Oxford Bereavement Coordinator

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, the holiday season can be a very difficult time. During the holidays, people tend to become acutely aware of the absence of someone they love. Painful feelings may be intensified and loneliness may become more profound. Following are a few suggestions to help you move forward and make the most of the holiday season.

  1. Accept Your Feelings and Acknowledge Your LossAttempting to bypass feelings requires a lot of energy, and it is not a good way to heal grief. If this is your first holiday since the loss, it may be especially important to talk with others and be honest about how you are feeling. Don’t be afraid of tears shed amongst family or with a friend; acknowledging what is in your heart provides relief and a sense of closeness. However you feel, accept it.
  2. Be Good to YourselfRemember that your sadness can drain your energy, which puts your health at risk. Shopping at peak times, attending lots of gatherings and otherwise attempting to “make merry” may increase fatigue and loneliness. This year, you might want to scale back—spending a quiet evening at home, listening to music or writing in a journal may be a more nurturing use of your time.
  3. Listen to Your Inner VoiceYour instincts may tell you that it’s a good day to have a friend over for coffee, or that perhaps you should skip the big New Year’s bash. Pay attention to this inner voice—it’s one of the best friends you have! Intuition may lead you to the perfect person or activity for that moment while keeping you from situations that are not helpful. This is a time to respond to your own needs, not to other’s expectations of you.
  4. Blend New Traditions with OldDecide which of your traditions you want to repeat this year. If an absent loved one was responsible for these traditions, decide to whom you might want to delegate these traditions. Rituals from past holidays may magnify the sense of loss of your friend or family member. Sometimes these traditions may feel comforting; if not, establish a new holiday tradition. Do what feels best to you.
  5. Make It Okay to be AloneWhile isolating yourself from others is not recommended, there are many times when solitude can be vital and deeply satisfying. Explore being alone and find out what is most compelling to do during your alone time. Loneliness can be triggered by the idea that “everyone else” is out having a good time, but use this quiet time to remember and think of the special people in your life.
  1. If Children are Part of Your Holidays – Focus on the KidsChildren, especially those younger than 13, grieve in a more intermittent way than adults. This is why they are still so excited to celebrate the holiday season. Children may be more interested in traditions and festivities than the adult members of your family this year. Ask your family members and friends to help provide that “holiday spirit” for the children in your family. Children need not be shielded from your times of sadness; their own grief is more understandable to them if they can see that you share the same feelings.

You are always welcome to join Oxford for our Grief Support Groups available in Southwest Missouri. You can also contact our Bereavement Department at

(417) 883-7500 for more information. If you live outside of Southwest Missouri and would like more information about a Grief Support Group near you, please visit www.griefshare.org

November is National Hospice Month and National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

By Elizabeth Lee, RN, BA, CHPN Oxford’s Hospice and Palliative Specialist and Carol Combs, MSW Oxford’s Memory Care Program Coordinator

Hospice is a wonderful and caring option for people who are facing end of life illness. The primary goal of hospice care is to help maintain the highest quality of life in the last stages of an illness.

Hospice serves individuals with any terminal illness, including Alzheimer’s disease. The Hospice Interdisciplinary Care Team includes the physician, nurse, social worker, chaplain, aide and grief services. This team works together with the patient and family to help manage the unique needs of end stage Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias.

Hospice focuses on comfort, support and managing pain rather than providing treatment. People with Alzheimer’s disease become more disabled over time; and with advanced dementia, individuals can no longer communicate their wants and needs. Focusing on the senses—touch, hearing and sight—can bring comfort when verbal communication cannot.

An Alzheimer’s patient could be eligible for Hospice care if they:

  • Are unable to ambulate without assistance
  • Are unable to dress or bathe without assistance
  • Are unable to swallow
  • Are unable to speak or communicate meaningfully
  • Have urinary and fecal incontinence
  • Have UTI’s (urinary tract infections), decubitus ulcers and/or aspiration pneumonia

The end of life path of hospice patients can be divided into one of three typical patterns:

  1. A short period of obvious decline at the end (typical for most cancers)
  2. Long-term disability with periodic intensification and unpredictable timing of death (typical for a patient with chronic organ system failure)
  3. Steadily declining function with a slowly dwindling course to death (typical for a patient with frailty, dementia or Alzheimer’s)

End of life decisions become more complicated if wishes have not been or cannot be expressed by the dying person. Families then have to speak for the person based on their knowledge of the individual’s values and beliefs.

What is the current quality of life, and how will the on-going treatment potentially impact quality of life?

Patients and families need to understand benefits versus burdens before treatment continues or is introduced. This requires truth telling and explanations in a language the patient and family are able to understand.

Family members caring for a dying loved one with Alzheimer’s often express relief—for the patient and themselves—when death comes. It is important to understand that these feelings are normal.

Hospice can help the patient and caregiver deal with the challenges faced in the patient’s final months, and offer grief support both before and after the loved one dies. Hospice helps ensure the highest quality of life while being treated with dignity and respect.

For more information about Oxford’s Hospice or Memory Care Programs, please contact one of our Care Coordinators, today.

 

Coping with Holidays and Loss

By Renee’ Jenkins, MSW – Oxford Bereavement Coordinator

HolidayTreats

The holiday season is here, and for many people, this is an exciting season. But, if you have lost a loved one or friend, this season can be painful. The ache intensifies and the loneliness can quickly overwhelm you. Here are a few suggestions to help you make the most of the holiday season, along with helping you move forward.

1. Be Good to Yourself

Sadness zaps your energy; so, don’t push yourself. You might be exhausted after a day of shopping or attempting to “make merry”. Try spending a quiet evening at home, doing something you enjoy. This may be a more nurturing use of your time, so you can stay healthy.

2. Blend New Traditions with the Old

Rituals from past holidays may magnify the sense of loss of your friend or family member. But, sometimes these traditions may feel comforting. Decide what traditions you want to repeat, and consider establishing new holiday traditions. You could take a trip to a country inn, go to church or synagogue, volunteer to help at a convalescent home or soup kitchen. It often helps to get together with a friend, who is also experiencing a loss in their life, for extra comfort and support.

3. Acknowledge your Loss

Attempting to bypass feelings requires enormous energy, and it is not a good way to heal grief. If this is the first holiday season since losing your loved one or friend, it’s important to talk with others about how you are feeling. Don’t be afraid to shed a tear to your family and friends. Acknowledging your true feelings can provide much-needed relief. One way to acknowledge your loss is to do something special. Put together a photo album of your loved one, visit the grave, light a candle for him or her, or write a poem.

4. Listen to your Inner Voice

Your instincts may tell you that today would be good day to have a friend over for coffee, or that you should skip the big New Year’s Eve bash. Pay attention to this inner voice—it’s one of the best friends you have! Intuition may lead you to the perfect person or activity for that moment, while keeping you from situations that are not helpful. This is a time to respond to your own needs, not to other’s expectations of you.

5. Make It Okay to be Alone

While isolating yourself from others is not always a good idea, there are times when solitude is vital to the healing process. During your alone times, explore new ideas on what you enjoy doing. Remember, loneliness is triggered by the idea that “everyone else” is having a good time, and you are alone. Don’t forget, you are in good company with family and friends to support you.

6. Get Help in Making the Holidays Festive for the Kids

Children, especially those younger than 13, grieve in a more intermittent way than adults. That’s why they are still excited to celebrate the holiday season. They will likely want to keep the traditions alive and enjoy the festivities. Ask your family members and friends to help provide that “holiday spirit” for the children in your family. It’s also okay to let children see your sadness. It might help them with their own grief when they see you experiencing the same feelings they are experiencing.


You are welcome to join us for our Grief Support Groups available in Southwest Missouri. You can also contact our Bereavement Department at (417) 883-7500 for more information. If you live outside of Southwest Missouri, and would like more information about a Grief Support Group near you, please visit www.griefshare.org.

Hope for the Holidays

Holidays are intended to be a time of family togetherness, thankfulness and great joy. However, if you are grieving the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be a time of sadness and loneliness. That’s why Oxford HealthCare is offering a free workshop called “Hope for the Holidays” to help bring comfort and support for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one or close friend. In this relaxing workshop, you will gain useful and practical suggestions that can help prepare you for the upcoming holiday season.

Hope for the Holidays” will be held on November 10th from 6 p.m.–8 p.m. at the Library Center at 4653 South Campbell Avenue. If you are interested, or know someone who might want to come, please contact Renee Jenkins at (417) 883-7500 ext. 3235 to reserve a spot.