Advice for you: Caregiving during the holidays
You're already dealing with the tough task of caring for a loved one with cancer, and now you have to deal with holiday stress too. That's a lot to handle. We've been there. We connected with New York City psychologist Shira Schaktman for advice on how to best navigate this overwhelming time of year.
1. How can I focus on the holidays when I'm so worried about caring for my loved one?
It is possible to strike a good balance between joy of the holidays and continuing to take care of someone you love. You can include them in your plans or bring the celebration to them. Focusing on happy and positive things in your life can alter your mindset and make you feel good about the holiday atmosphere. Your loved one can also greatly benefit from your joy; the more positive your attitude, the happier you and your loved one will be.
2. How can I manage feelings of sadness and anger during this time?
Self-care is generally very important when coping with feelings of sadness and anger, especially during a time when you are doing so much for others. When overcome with these feelings, it is beneficial to seek an outlet that brings you positive emotions. Therapy and a support system made up of friends and family, will allow you to ventilate your feelings so that you can be the best version of yourself.
3. I feel guilty to attend holiday parties and receive gifts. My loved one is sick. What can I do about the way I feel?
Guilt is a normal feeling to experience when someone you love is sick. Remind yourself that you are not to blame for your loved one’s illness. Partaking in holiday events will help you resume some normalcy during this time, and generate a more positive and healthy well-being, which in turn will make you a better caretaker.
Shira Schaktman, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist in Manhattan, NY and Princeton, NJ. Dr. Schaktman provides confidential psychotherapy, coaching and consultation services to individuals and couples. Her therapeutic approach is strength-based and includes a combination of support, exploration, guidance, feedback and concrete recommendations.