‘Tis the season to be jolly! Or so the Christmas carols would have us believe. But for many unpaid carers, the reality of the holiday season can be quite different.
While Christmas is meant to be a time of relaxation, unrelenting happiness, and excess, it often brings added responsibilities and stress for those who care for others. The pressure to have a ‘perfect’ Christmas as expected by society can put even more emotional and financial strain on families who are already stretched thin.
The emotional toll of being an unpaid carer is magnified during the holidays. We may feel guilty for not being able to give our loved ones the picture-perfect Christmas that is portrayed in movies, songs, and on the front of festive cards. Seeing others celebrate carefree while carers shoulder the weight of caring responsibilities can leave people feeling sad or even angry. But it’s important to acknowledge these emotions and remember that every day, you are doing your best to give your families the best life you can.
Unfortunately, the emotional toll of being an unpaid carer during the Christmas season is not the only challenge carers face. The financial burden can be equally exhausting, especially with the added costs of presents, decorations, and festive food. These expenses can stretch already limited resources to the brink—especially in our current cost of living crisis. While others focus on finding the perfect Christmas tree or buying the ‘ideal’ present, a carers priority may be on making ends meet this season. But it’s crucial to remember that you are not alone in this struggle. Many others are facing the same challenges, and reaching out for support can make all the difference. You can visit Citizens Advice (https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/) for more information and financial support. Alternatively, feel free to call us on 0800 181 4118 if you have any questions or just want to chat things through.
So, how can we find some respite during this hectic time? Firstly, try and seize every opportunity for self-care. We know it’s not easy for carers to take time for themselves during the day, but even a few moments to unwind and recharge can make a world of difference. It can be as simple as enjoying a hot cup of tea in a quiet room, listening to our favourite holiday tunes, or doing some relaxing breathing exercises. Prioritising self-care without feeling guilty allows people to better cope with the added responsibilities of being a carer, ultimately making them better carers for their loved ones. Remember, you need to make sure you are okay before we can even think about taking care of anyone else.
Finally remember that managing expectations is crucial. It’s not about creating a fairy-tale, picture-perfect Christmas that could be straight out of a Hollywood movie. Instead, it’s about cherishing the moments of happiness that we can find amidst the chaos of everyday life. Embrace the little things that make this season special, whether it’s a heartfelt conversation, a warm hug, or simply being present with our loved ones. Let’s create new traditions for our own families and simply enjoy the day for what it truly is—an excuse to spend more time with our loved ones.
Carer Support Wiltshire will be open 9.00am – 4.30pm on the 22 December. We will be closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day, back open from 27 – 29 December from 9.00am – 4.30pm. We will be closed Monday 1 January, we will then return to normal working hours on Tuesday 2 January.