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November 28, 2023

How to Survive the Holidays

Visiting family members is a cause for celebration during the holidays for many people but it can also be a major source of stress for many different reasons. If you prefer to avoid that stress altogether, it is completely acceptable and valid to avoid spending the holidays with your family members. Alternatively, setting boundaries with family members can make the holidays more enjoyable. If you prefer to only see certain family members during this time of year or conduct visits on your terms, you are well within your rights. You should not feel obligated to see every member of your extended family every year if you prefer not to do so. Either way, it will allow you to enjoy activities and events with other people with whom you might prefer to share your time with during the holiday season.

How to Deal with Holiday Weight Gain

Weight gain is an almost inevitable part of the holiday season and all of the good food that comes with it. Older adults who are concerned about weight gain can reduce their risk by enjoying food in moderation. Smaller portion sizes will be fewer calories and therefore less weight will be gained.

If you've already experienced holiday weight gain, you can add in a little more exercise depending on your physical ability. Even something as simple as taking a stroll around the block a few times a week can help restore you to your original weight. If you're suffering from mobility issues, check with your doctor to see if they have any alternative exercises you can do at home.

Holiday Travel to Help Relieve Stress

For older adults without significant mobility issues, travel can be an excellent way to relieve holiday-related stress. Those who live in cooler climates might enjoy a cruise to the Caribbean or another warmer location. Alternatively, if you live in a warmer climate, you may want to seek out destinations that have snowy winters. You can visit family, a new place, or return to a place you've visited many times.

Kupuna who are feeling lonely might consider a trip to visit family members they haven't seen in a while. Traveling with another older adult or a group of single friends can also be a wonderful experience, especially for those who are on a fixed income and would benefit from sharing some travel expenses. There are also many travel groups aimed at older adults if you'd like to meet new people.

Avoiding Depression During the Holidays

Depression during the holidays can be very common but it doesn't have to be. There are many ideas and techniques that you can use to avoid feeling lonely or depressed during this time. Perhaps the best way to combat this is to simply get outside as often as possible.

If you're experiencing limited mobility or otherwise don't want to go outside, doing your favorite indoor activities like arts and crafts, reading, watching movies, or anything else you enjoy can help take your mind off of things. The more time you spend focused on activities, the less time you'll have to spend alone with your thoughts.

What Are Some Other Ways to Avoid Feeling Lonely During the Holidays

A great way to avoid feeling lonely during the holidays is by volunteering for a local charity, like a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, religious organization, or another cause that you feel strongly about. You'll have plenty of people to talk with while making a positive impact on your community.

Even if you can't physically be in the same room with friends or family, you can always talk to them over the phone. The holidays are a perfect opportunity to look up an old friend or someone you haven't spoken to recently, as there's a very good chance you two will have plenty to catch up on.

You can also exchange emails or text messages with grandchildren or other younger people who may be averse to phone conversations or another older adult whose medical conditions make it difficult for them to speak over the phone.

Kupuna without mobility issues may also benefit from seasonal employment, like wrapping presents for donations or helping out at a toy drive that's likely to be very busy in December. Many places welcome older adults to work for as little as an hour or two a day depending on their physical abilities.

Making a new friend might seem like a difficult task but the odds are pretty good that you'll be able to find someone around your age who also feels lonely during the holidays and would love having someone to talk with instead of sitting at home alone. Maybe it's someone you pass by every day or an acquaintance you'd like to get to know better.

Final Thoughts

Holidays can be a stressful time for older adults, especially those who cannot easily see members of their family. However, by visiting friends, taking a vacation, keeping their minds and bodies as active as they can, and enjoying other activities, older adults can better manage stress and avoid depression by having a fun and exciting holiday season.

If you're the person who takes care of a kupuna like a parent or grandparent, anything you can do to help them relieve stress, boredom, or depression during a stressful holiday season will be greatly appreciated. After all, it’s the season of giving and spreading cheer.

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