Holidays are stressful enough without having a chronic illness. And just getting through a regular day with a chronic illness is difficult enough without the added stressors of the holidays. So here is your Holidays with a Chronic Illness Survival Guide.
Dress for Comfort
Sure there will be family pictures and selfies and surprise snapshots, but dress for your comfort. If you know that tags, tight jeans, wool, turtlenecks, etc. cause you irritation don’t wear them. Opt for something that is stylish and comfortable like leggings and a cute flowy top or these comfortable and stylish options for men. If you know that you are cold or warm natured or that your mom tends to keep her house an uncomfortable 80 degrees, dress accordingly.
Be Prepared to Fight the Cold and Germs
It may be the holiday season, but it is also cold and flu season. Bring along pocket sized hand sanitizer and tissues. Also, fight the cold weather and any drafty houses with scarves, gloves, and layered clothing. Cold air, drafts, and germs are a chronic illness warrior’s mortal enemy.
Planning ahead can take a lot of the stress out of the craziness of the holidays. That extra stress can undoubtedly lead to a flare. Have a plan and a to-do list to keep you organized and on schedule. Invest in a planner!
And while you are planning, schedule in some down time to allow yourself to rest. Down time will actually allow you to slow down and enjoy the time with your family and friends so much more. If you know you have a big event that will use up a bunch of spoons, try to rest more the day before.
Ask for Help
It’s common to have trouble asking for help, but it is a necessity for a Spoonie to survive the holidays.
If you find yourself hosting the holiday festivities go potluck and ask everyone to bring a dish or two.
Ask for help cleaning up afterwards.
Enlist a friend or two to help with wrapping gifts. Put on some holiday movies or music, pop open your favorite bottle of wine (or whatever beverage doesn’t worsen your symptoms) and make a day of it.
Pace Yourself and Be Realistic
During the holidays we want to say YES! We want to be involved in all the fun activities, but we need to be realistic and pace ourselves. If your mailbox is flooded with invites, don’t say yes to all of them if you know that it will wear you out and send you into a flare. Don’t sign up for every Holiday fun run, every Caroling excursion, don’t volunteer to sew all of the costumes for the Christmas play, and volunteer to go on the hike to cut down the Christmas tree. Limit and pace yourself to ensure that you can enjoy the events that are the most important to you.
Avoid the crowds and long lines that can do a number on our bodies and emotions by shopping for gifts online. Save yourself the physical pain and maintain your sanity.
Bring Your Own Food
If you’re going to someone else’s house to stay for the holidays or holiday meals bring along your own food if you have special dietary restrictions. It will keep you healthy and you will avoid a flare up if you maintain your diet. Let the host no ahead of time that because of your health needs you will bring your own meal. Your host will undoubtedly understand and appreciate the heads up. And they will be grateful that you didn’t expect them to cater to your specific needs.
Listen to Your Body and Don’t Feel Guilty
As always, the most important survival tip is to listen to your body. Take time to care for yourself and your body’s needs. Rest when you need to rest. Eat the foods that make your body happy. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t stay up late chatting with family. Don’t feel guilty if you need to sneak off for a quick nap before you holiday meal. Taking care of yourself is always priority number one, even during the holiday mayhem!
Do you have more tips to help us all survive the holidays with our chronic illnesses? Leave your tips in the comments.
Happy Holidays, Warriors!
Keep Kickin’ AS!
Extra Spoons to You All!
This website is not run by medical professionals and is solely the experiences of one Ankylosing Spondylitis Warrior who wishes to help and inspire others who suffer with the complications of autoimmune diseases.
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