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!
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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!Tweet
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 #psoriaticarthritisTweet
Today I am sharing four holiday survival skills that have helped me enjoy the holidays despite my chronic illnesses.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Set Realistic Expectations
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.
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
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?