Boosting Your Wellness through the Holidays – LifeCircles PACE
Boosting Your Wellness through the Holidays

What do Jon Bon Jovi, Elvis Presley, and Michael Buble all have in common? They all sang about a “Blue Christmas”. The holidays can be a joyous time, and they can also be a complex time. This is especially true if you are living with brain changes, caring for others, dealing with your own changing health or navigating other stressors. LifeCircles PACE wishes you wellness this holiday season! Consider these helpful tips for prioritizing your wellness as you go into the holidays.

A busy collage of winter holiday images   with the words "There's a lot to manage this time of year!" in the center of the collage.
  • Quality verses Quantity
    • Prioritize what matters most to you around the holidays. What brings you joy? What do you value? Focus on the gatherings you wish to attend and know its okay to say no.
    • Stick to traditions that are familiar and meaningful, but don’t feel the need to go all out for things that do not bring you joy.
    • One or two good gatherings may be worth more than a marathon of stressful events.
  • Communicate Realistic Expectations
    • No holiday celebration is perfect. Try to be flexible and let the mishaps simply become part of the holiday memories. Consider this as a chance to practice being resilient.
    • Call others ahead of time to share if you or someone else will need a quiet space, can only stay for a short while, or need a particular diet etc.
    • Leave when things are still going well, verses when you or your loved one are worn out. Know your cues of when its time to go such as feeling very tired or having frustrated thoughts.
    • If others are visiting you, let them know if your needs have changed ahead of the visit
  • Monitor Wellness
    • Check in on the health of you and your loved ones. If you are not feeling well mentally or physically, reschedule. Ask how the people you are visiting are feeling too.
    • Take care of yourself:
      • Stay hydrated
      • Get plenty of sleep
      • Enjoy the treats, but remember to eat nutritiously too
      • Know if you are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated
      • Move your body as you are able
    • Consider wearing a mask for added protection in bigger gatherings, especially if you have health problems that increase the chance of you getting sick.
  • Make a List
    • This list isn’t for Santa – It’s for friends and family who may not know how to help you or help you care for another.
    • Caring for another?
      • Ask friends or family to come over with a meal. Maybe they can stay and visit too? Is there a simple meal they can bring over that your loved one enjoys?
      • Help setting up and taking down some holiday decorations.
      • Help addressing envelopes for holiday greeting cards.
      • Time away
    • Dealing with your own changing health? Have any tasks that have been nagging you? Can someone else help with any?
      • Ask for a meal
      • Lawn or snow care
      • Errand running
      • Baking of your favorite recipe – either together or on your behalf
      • Taking your dog for a walk or to the vet, groomer etc.
      • Help setting up technology like a smart TV, tablet, or speaker
  • Check in with others and offer specific ideas
    • If you are not regularly caring for someone, but you know someone who is – offer specific ways you can help. We can mean well by saying “let me know if there is anything I can do for you”, but when someone is overwhelmed they may not know how to answer this question. Having a few concrete ideas may help them think of their own list, or allow them to take you up on your offer. Be sure to ask for preferences before jumping into action, as one person’s kind gesture may be another’s cause of stress and overwhelm. Ask if the person you’ll be visiting has new preferences or needs since the last time you saw them.
      • Offer a mini spa visit – bring over lotion, nail polish, an extra soft blanket, fuzzy socks, and visit while massaging hands and feet.
      • Bring a simple meal – ask what things they like and are currently eating (preferences may have changed).
      • Consider taking someone out for a movie, a coffee, or a drive to see holiday lights.
      • Offer to visit with or care for someone to let their main care partner have some time away.
      • Offer grocery getting, errand running, or gift shopping.
      • Could you help with snow removal?
      • Would setting up and taking down a small set of holiday decorations be meaningful?
      • Dig out old photos, letters, CDs or playlists – have a visit and reminisce.
  • Keep it Simple
    • Avoid the pressure to go all out. You don’t have to do a lot of shopping or preparing to have a meaningful holiday.
    • If you host an event, consider ways to share holiday work and divide up the load. Could you simplify the menu? Instead of hosting an entire meal, could you ask everyone to bring an appetizer?
    • Remember what matters most to you – If hosting a large gathering wont bring you joy this year, consider other ways to connect. Just because you’ve always done it, doesn’t mean you have to do it that way again.
    • Say “No” to large gatherings if needed. Offer alternate plans like meeting in a smaller group at a restaurant for desserts or having loved ones stop by your place for coffee.
    • Make traditions work for you – consider decorating store bought cookies instead of baking from scratch. Love a holiday concert, but the environment or actually getting there is too much? Enjoy a holiday concert on tv or the radio.
  • Honor those who have Passed
    • If you’ve lost someone, know that each big moment or celebration may be bittersweet. Happiness and grief can co-exist. It is ok to not be ok, and it is also ok to have moments of happiness amongst other feelings.
    • Talk about those you’ve lost and some of your holiday memories to others. Sharing bits about them and hearing friends and family share their stories helps you hold them dear.
    • Some people honor their loved ones by lighting a special candle in their honor during gatherings.
    • Planning ahead can help identify changing roles or loss of roles – Did Grandma always make latkes for the family? Did Grandpa dress as Santa every year and hand out gifts? Can we plan for others to fill the role, or to create a new way to honor the tradition?
    • Grief is complicated and unique for everyone. It is ok to pass if you aren’t up to celebrating or joining get togethers.
  • Reach out for help
    • Stress getting in the way? Reach out to LifeCircles if professional help is needed to manage stress. If you are a current member, or caring for a LifeCircles member call us at either 231-733-8686 or 616-582-3100.
    • Not a member but interested in having more support from LifeCircles? Our teams in Holland and Muskegon, Michigan are ready to offer more support and ideas customized just to you. Call us 616-347-3477 if you’d like to learn more about our program.
    • Did this strike a chord? For more tips check out this blog post and video our behavioral health and social work clinicians did a few years ago.
Last Updated on November 16, 2023