If you are, or you know of, a senior who may be going through a difficult time during the festive season, consider these coping mechanisms..
The end of the year is generally a time of excitement and anticipation, spending time with loved ones, celebrating age-old traditions, indulging in holiday-time treats and festive meals. However, in some cases, the end of the year for seniors can be a time of complete reflection and deep thought, which can make the festivities seem meaningless. It could be a time when all a senior has, are memories of close family members and friends who might have passed on or moved far away.
If you know a senior, who you anticipate might be going through the above, consider the following coping mechanisms that could help them move past the sadness and reclaim the joy and some of the frivolity of the holiday season. Some seniors may need to tighten their belts and curtail activities due to the uncertain political and economic climate. For others, the thought of spending the holidays without a lost loved one, may be too much to bear. Others may have family who have moved far away, and they face the thought of the holiday season without seeing their loved ones. Other seniors may be anticipating a festive season, home alone, while others are out having a good time and making merry.
What can you do for yourself and what can you do to help a senior?
Reach out to lonely seniors
Can you make a difference to a senior in your neighbourhood this coming festive season? Invite a senior, or two, or three, to join your Christmas lunch festivities. Spare a thought and some time for those who do not have a loving family or friends – it needn’t cost anything beyond time and sharing and caring.
Financial and shopping stress
Set a budget for your gifts and your Christmas dinner. When you go shopping, stick to this budget. The retailers place items strategically to tempt you to stray from your budget, so have a plan in place. Spend some time thinking about the people for whom you wish to buy gifts. Is there something that you know they would love or need? Write down what you plan to spend and stick to it. Shop well in advance – it’s less stressful.
Paying it forward
Avoid loneliness by paying it forward: give to those in need. Try reaching out to someone who may be more lonely than you. You can do this by volunteering with an NGO or Church who are handing out gifts or meals for Christmas, or you can visit an old age home, paediatric ward or orphanage and simply spend time with the elderly and children. Join Top Dogs and go to a hospital, hospice, frail care home or retirement home with a furry friend in tow, and bring company, support, comfort and focus to those in need.
Remember to exercise regularly during the festive season as the best way of reducing stress is to exercise. If you are on holiday and not near your regular gym, take long invigorating walks and explore your new surroundings or play a social game of soccer/tennis, or even take a long swim.
Celebrate your loved one’s memory
If you have lost a loved one recently, celebrate their memory. Perhaps you could visit your loved one’s favourite restaurant and reminisce on the positive influence he/she had on your life and drink a toast to him or her. You can make a donation to a charity in your loved one’s name. You can light a special candle at the Christmas table to signify your loved one’s presence in your heart and mind during the holiday season. Create a memory board, and encourage other family members to share their favourite memories of the loved one that has passed on.
Give yourself a Christmas present
Treat yourself to a pamper session, or a movie that you have wanted to see. Or plan a Christmas outing to a show that you think you and your grandchildren would love to see.
Schedule time with your family who are far away
Even if your family are on the other side of the world, make sure you book a time with them on Skype/WhatsApp, when you can have a long chat with them.
Make a list of all the things in life you are thankful for. Research shows that there is a link between gratitude and being thankful and an increase in happiness.
Deliberately taking actions like the ones mentioned above, helps us confront our fears, and can prove remarkably cathartic and help us find moments of comfort and even joy during the Christmas season.
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