Postulate: A Caregiver’s Approach to Dealing With Stress During the Holidays

I have a good friend who embodies the familiar phrase “I call ‘em as I see ’em.” Not curmudgeon exactly, and not to the point of being an “Eeyore,” she is simply a narrative kind of person. She has her own method of how to deal with stress.  She is one who POSTUL-ATES (to claim or assume the existence of truth of, especially as a basis for reasoning or arguing).

Do you know our blog theme, the emphasis on words with ate? We use verbs because we are in ACTION.

Caregiving for elderly parents, raleigh-durham, N.C.My friend is one who is also a caregiver, an Adult Child of her 84-year-old mother. Tammy is in the last years of her own career and has some legitimate concerns regarding her own Adult Children. At age 61 she is still very much a member of the Sandwich Generation, those caring for their parents and their children simultaneously. Her approach is uniquely her own.

I had found her standing in the local grocery in the seasonal promotions aisle, staring intently at the shelf before her. I had wondered, even brightened that Tammy might be feeling hopeful about upcoming holiday season. At minimum, I was certain she’d have some wry and humorous commentary.

“We barely get through one holiday and it’s time for another. Just look at it!” she fumed, gesturing toward the aisle of new merchandise piled alongside markdowns.

A quick scan of our aisle confirmed her line of thinking. We were able to confirm three holidays within 10 feet of our vantage point. My friend postul-ated “Why, there must be special crews hired to remove one holiday and bring in another overnight.”

Pleasantries completed, we chatted a few minutes, catching up on family and caregiving. “How fast it all goes” led to her gesturing down the aisle and exclaiming “The whole world’s time is fast”. At one point she became philosophical. “Why does caregiving go slow but somehow there is never enough time?” This was quickly replaced with “I could complain, but what good would it do?” She’d shared her truth, her reasoning,  and her answer.

Do we all postul-ate in advance of holidays, find reason in and for our experiences? Indeed, our experiences are our own, but are they always sound?

During holiday times we are presented with a myriad of situations and emotions. We witness Hallmark-type families with golden dreams and sugar plums. We experience or observe loneliness or despair. There will be an abundance of feature articles and news items about people helping charities with angel trees and dinners, coats and toy drives.

How then do we weigh our own experience against all this or that which the media would have us see? We will rally to the needs of others but then we return to our own experience.

Perhaps there is a kernel of truth in this notion that we as caregivers can and should take special care of ourselves. But there is also value in Tammy’s approach. Pragmatism and logic may have real merit in keeping sanity throughout the holiday season.

We read stories of caregivers “who need to take care of themselves”. What a concept. What’s their secret?  How do they cope with the stress of the holiday season?

Here’s a suggestion: Google the phrase “How caregivers can care for themselves”. Whether you need validation, permission, or a different perspective then you may find what you need on the very first page.

Personally I advoc-ate (ahem, see the word?) the notion of giving yourself permission to remain in the present. With the holiday Christmas,  I have developed what I call my Christmas Present. No matter that I am only getting through the day, valuing it, in the thick of it, not too darned happy about it, comparing it to Christmases past or promising myself that the next one will be different, this is My Present. If things go south, I will stop and find three things for which I am grateful right now. I am learning to postul-ate or reason things out, differently.  So, now you know how I deal with the stress of the holidays.

This time of year can be loaded with feelings. Addressed. Suppressed. It does not matter. Within the span of weeks we may feel or witness –

I am hopeful

I am planning

I am thrilled with the idea of —

I am included

I am in charge

I am humbled. This could give way to:

I am pissed

I am tired

I feel I am missing something” (or may be)

I am sad

I am grieving (or even pre-grieving)

I am… I-don’t-know-what-I-am.

And that’s OK, in our book.

Perhaps we can choose to change what we postulate, what or how we reason. If we entertain another idea, explore another’s viewpoint, see how others “run the play” we open ourselves to changing our own experience, or positively influencing that of another.

Tammy’s way makes perfect sense to me. She calls ‘em as she sees ‘em and moves on with other matters. That’s how she deals with stress. Come to find out, she is a caregiver taking care of herself.

As we completed our survey of the now mostly December-type holidays aisle I hugged my friend, and said “Well, let me be the first to wish you Happy Holidays, my friend!” Now I realize her words to me, her Christmas Present, was indeed a present to me.  It was another answer to the question, how to deal with stress?


Need to make some sense of it all? We are talking to families, caregivers and the loved ones about their Presents. NAVIGATE NC offers a free initial consultation and gift certificates toward services. CONNECT WITH US to schedule your time to talk about services for your seniors.


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