4 Ways to Survive the Holidays with a Chronic Illness


Will you survive the holidays or will your chronic illness rule the season?

Let’s get real!

Raise your hand if your holiday plans are still the same as they were before your chronic illness.

That was me from 2003-2014 and oh my goodness was it ever exhausting!

Life with one or more chronic illnesses is tough. Yet each year we expect our pain riddled bodies to keep up with the ghosts of Christmas or holiday past. Here are a few suggestions to help you survive the holidays!

You would think that knowing that I would be slower due to colder weather would be enough for me to realize that I needed to make adjustments to how I “did” the holidays, but no, I still believed that to “win” at having fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis, I had to be able to do everything that I used to and better!

“Winning” during the #holidays with a #chronicillness means doing what I can, when I can, the best I can. #merrychristmas #happyholidays #happyhanukkah #fibromyalgia #psoriaticarthritis

Today I am sharing four holiday survival skills that have helped me enjoy the holidays despite my chronic illnesses.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my coffee drinking habit if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, and you’ll keep me supplied in caffeine. It’s a win for everyone, really.


Survive the Holidays by Scheduling Mindfully

The trick to surviving the holidays with a chronic illness like fibromyalgia or autoimmune arthritis is to plan mindfully and not mindlessly.

With the holidays comes additional social commitments. Whether it be caroling, a company party, or family celebrations there is no shortage of energy zapping, pain inducing, and flare triggering events.

The trick to surviving the holidays with a chronic illness like fibromyalgia or autoimmune arthritis is to plan mindfully and not mindlessly.

How I fight chronic pain while on the go!

Plan with your chronic illnesses in mind. Block out a day or more to rest prior to a social outing and the same if not more after. Pack a bag with pain relief essentials for all day outings. Modify activities to accommodate your needs. For example, if walking or being on your feet all day results in needing days to recover use a wheelchair or motorized scooter instead.

Shop Online

Avoiding stores and shopping online during the holidays is one of the smartest things the chronically ill can do to avoid putting their health in danger. 


Skip the crowds and traffic this year and shop online instead. I prefer spending my precious time with people I love rather than with a bunch of strangers in an overheated building.

Shop Amazon for last minute gifts and more!

Online shopping also saves money. I can’t tell you how many times I spent more than I had budgeted all because my pain level escalated while shopping. When in pain, I don’t have the energy to bargain shop or store hop.

Walmart has something for everyone on your list!

To get through the holidays without triggering additional flares, the chronically ill should  consider shopping online, scheduling mindfully, setting realistic expectations, and embracing minimalism. 
Learn more here!

Survive the Holidays by Setting Realistic Expectations

Are your holiday expectations realistic? Often those of us with fibromyalgia, autoimmune arthritis, and other chronic illnesses expect our bodies to do more than what they are actually capable of. Here are some tips to help you work with your body and still enjoy the holidays.

Be honest with yourself! Too often those of us with chronic illnesses come down with a case of holiday amnesia. That’s when we refuse to acknowledge how our lives have changed because of chronic pain and continue to go about the season like we used to.

Find a mobility aid to meet your needs!

Some traditions will need to be modified and others may need to be scrapped. Accept what you can do and the modifications that will make them less painful. Don’t let a year of only being able to do one or two things get you down. Life with one or more chronic illnesses is always changing and you never know what you will be capable of next year.


Become a Minimalist

The most important holiday lesson I have learned since my diagnosis of fibromyalgia, endometriosis and autoimmune arthritis is that less is more!! Find out how minimalism can help you this Christmas!

Before fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis hijacked my body, I would transform my home into a winter wonderland. After eleven exhausting and painful seasons I learned a very important holiday survival skill: LESS IS MORE!

When decorating, recruit friends and family to assist and/or never put out more than you are able to take down when the season ends. Gifts do not have to be extravagant or expensive!

Last but not least, minimize your outings. Plan to do less and simplify the plans you do make. For example, instead of going out to dinner and a movie, then ending the evening by driving around looking at holiday lights, grab a hot chocolate/coffee to go and look at lights. You can go out for dinner or watch a movie anytime, but there is only one time a year to enjoy everyone’s twinkling displays.

What steps are you taking to prevent unnecessary flares this holiday season?

More Holiday Survival Tips

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.

6 thoughts on “4 Ways to Survive the Holidays with a Chronic Illness

  1. Great tips! I’ve done one of those infographics for a similar upcoming post too, might have to get rid of mine as yours is better and says it all (and with how far behind I am I’ll probably have the post ready for Christmas 2020!). It’s weird, isn’t it, when our lives and our abilities change so much with chronic illness and yet the expectations and aims we set ourselves stay the same, especially around Christmas. It can be far too much pressure and it just makes us miserable if we struggle through it and can’t keep us. Online shopping is such a blessing, and I’m far more appreciative of the small things these days, which is good if your life and social circle get smaller with illness/disability. Pacing is an important aspect, though it can still frustrate the hell out of me. And as you say, remembering that less is more, another important thing to keep in mind! Great post lovely ♥
    Caz xx

    1. Thank you! I think pacing will always be an issue, mostly because the frequency and severity of our symptoms change often. I grow bored every time I cut back and find a level that I can function at. Then I start testing my limits. Sometimes I find I have to stay where I am at and others I am able to push farther. The problem is I don’t stop at the next level, I just keep testing until BOOM I hit the wall. And the cycle just continues on and on…..

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