Holiday Stress

written by: Stephenie Bernal, Social Worker

The holidays can be a stressful time for many of us! Much has been written about this. Holiday stress comes from many sources, but often times stems from the expectations we put on ourselves. Our culture tells us this is a time for celebration! We have expectations that the house will be decorated and that gifts will be bought, wrapped and given. We envision that wonderful dinners will be prepared and shared with family and friends. Many of us have holiday parties to attend or religious functions, pageants and programs.  Others have traditions that include baking certain goodies. Whatever our traditions are, we spend a lot of time and energy trying to make sure that this season meets our expectations and those of our loved ones.

For those of us who work in the hospice field, this time of the year brings extra stresses and challenges as many of us are taking some time off during the holiday season, yet the needs of those in our care remain constant. I’m thankful for the spirit of cooperation that is exhibited in our organization. We always have staff willing and available to cover patient visits!  The level of care we provide is not negatively affected during this hectic time of year.

Yet as hectic as this season can be for us, we recognize that for our patients, many of them are living with the reality that this may be their very last holiday season. That realization alone can have a major impact on how they and their loved ones are coping this time of the year. They still have the same expectations and traditions in their families that they’ve always had but now everything seems different. Everything is different!

We are called to help them walk through their end of life journeys. Let us continue to meet that challenge with the same joy, energy and sensitivity during the holidays that we demonstrate during the rest of the year. To meet that goal we need to focus on taking care of ourselves as well. We need to remember to carve out some time for relaxation and rejuvenation. We need to make that a priority! As we deal with stresses and pressure from so many different sources, not only will we be helping ourselves to better cope, but we will also be better able to continue to give to our patients and families what they need from us.


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