Why Holiday Timelines Don’t Work with Chronic Illness/Pain

Why Holiday Timelines Don't Work with Chronic Illness/Pain

There is nothing normal about living with multiple chronic illnesses. So why do we expect ourselves to adhere to a holiday schedule that many healthy people struggle to keep up with?

The #holidays should be a time of sharing love and laughter with loved ones, not hurting our bodies. #chroniclife

Holiday timelines do not always work with chronic illnesses. Fibromyalgia or autoimmune arthritis flares can throw even the best-laid plans for a curve. Here is why you should not force your body to follow a traditional schedule and tips for finding what works best for you and your chronic illness.

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Why traditional holiday timelines don’t work

Traditional holiday timelines are very rigid.

As a child I always felt that the holidays felt rushed and that there wasn’t enough time to take in the beauty of the decorations and lights.

My mom never put our tree up before Thanksgiving. Instead it was done two days later. Thankfully she wasn’t one of those people who waited until Christmas Eve to put up and decorate the tree, I couldn’t have handled that!

But seriously, when you think about it everyone I know (even those who don’t have fibromyalgia or psoriatic arthritis) feels emotionally and physically frazzled between Thanksgiving week through Christmas day!

Why? Because on top of our regular lives, we expect ourselves to throw dinner parties, decorate our homes inside and outside, attend more parties than nights we typically have available or feel like going out, create magically memories for our children and grandchildren, and shop like there’s no tomorrow!!!

If our healthy friends and family struggle with holiday demands, why is it that we think it is possible for us to be able to keep up with it?

Our bodies need just as much if not more care and rest throughout November and December.

If we wear ourselves out we increase our chances of getting sick or worsening our chronic symptoms. What may be a simple cold to a healthy person, could knock us out until February!

Physical pain isn’t something that we can just turn off. Flares prevent us from keeping up with our every day schedules, so we must be extra cautious about avoiding as many triggers as possible during the holidays.


Make a choice

After years of running myself into the ground, spending most of the holiday season in bed, and literally making myself sick I decided that following a traditional holiday schedule wasn’t for me.

Ask yourself the following:

What’s more important?

  • Preparing meals or enjoying a meal with people you love?
  • Going store to store looking for the best deal on the perfect presents for everybody or ordering them online.
  • Wrapping presents by hand or having someone else wrap them? Gift bags are also a back and hand pain saving option!
  • Waiting to put decorations up until it is socially acceptable or getting it done early so you can relax and enjoy the season?
  • Spending the weekend in pain after washing dishes or create new memories with the energy you have because you used disposable dinnerware/cookware.

Do what works for you

This year I put my tree up on November 3rd. Knowing that my work and social calendar will be full from my birthday on the 12th through the 10th of January, my goal is to have all decorating done before my birthday.

I have reservations made for the meals I have chosen not to cook. For the other celebratory meals I am creating menus that can be made by anyone in my household should I be struck down by chronic pain or any other illness. I am ordering groceries online so I can have the energy to visit Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm throughout the holidays.

I understand people not wanting to rush the season. But the choice I have had to make was either I start early or I do nothing. If I want to attend parties and see awesome holiday sites, then my time cannot be spent decorating or cooking.

That is my reality and although it took a long time to accept it, accepting and abiding by non-traditional timelines has made life so much better for me and my family. I waited last year and was too sick to put up a tree. I am not making that mistake this year!

What do you do differently since your diagnosis?

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Published by Cynthia Covert

Diagnosed in 2001 with psoriasis, followed by fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, endometriosis, and later a botched hysterectomy turned her world upside down. Cynthia shares her experience, advice, and tips for how to make life with chronic pain easier and less painful.

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