I read a great article on the Chronic Pain Connection website that offers some wonderful tips on getting through the holidays for the chronically ill.
The holidays can be a very stressful and exhausting time even for the healthiest of people. For those of us chronically ill, getting through the holidays can make or break how the next few months will be for us physically. Around the holiday season it is easy to get caught in the mentality that we feel like we HAVE to do this or we HAVE to do that. You don’t HAVE to do anything you are not physically up for. Be easy on yourself and don’t let the holiday season become something you dread.
I used to dread the thought of Christmas because I always felt as though I had to do so many things because it is what is expected. I have learned how to enjoy the holidays since the birth of my son and I only do what I physically and mentally feel I can handle.
Here are some tips given by Stacy Stone, author of Surviving the Holidays with Chronic Illness and some added notes by me:
– Do not do all of your shopping in one day. Start early and pick up a few gifts each time you go out.
– Give gift certificates – it saves you on wrapping and it saves time!
– Shop online – I have been telling this to chronically ill patients for forever now. You don’t even have to get out of your pajamas and you can have the gifts wrapped and shipped directly to the person you are buying for.
– Plan your budget before starting your shopping and stick to it. Once you’re done – you’re done!
– If you have a large family, try exchanging names so you don’t have to buy for so many people.
– Buy an artificial tree – we have been putting up an artificial tree for years. It saves me so much time and hassle. If you can get one that is already lit that’s even better. More time and energy saved.
– I never have the energy to decorate outdoors – I’m lucky to get the tree up but some people like to go all out for the holidays and feel that they have to decorate outside. If you feel like this is something you must do, find some people to help you.
– Instead of making a bunch of homemade cookies, buy the refrigerated dough or the frozen cookie dough and make those. Lots of time and mess saved, as well as your own energy.
– If you are having the holiday meal at your house, have each person bring a dish. Split up the menu among all of those attending and have each person do an equal share of the cooking.
– If you have to travel for the holidays, pick a time of day that is best for you to be traveling. Most of us with chronic illness have certain times during the day when we are at our best. Make sure you travel during these hours but rest when the bad times come. If you typically feel better when you first get up, then drive during these hours. If you feel better at night, then drive then. Take frequent breaks if you are driving.
– Check with your physician to see what their holiday schedule is going to be. Make sure you have enough medications to get you through the holidays. If not, have prescriptions filled before Christmas.
– If you like to have a drink or two over the holidays, make sure the alcohol will not interfere with your medications.
– Afraid you will gain weight over the holidays? Donate all of your leftover Christmas food to a homeless shelter.