As a person with multiple chronic illnesses, the approaching holidays, and all the busyness that usually accompanies them, are a time for me to re-access and re-adjust which activities occupy my time.
Although I would love to involve myself with all the things I enjoy, it is not going to happen. Not with the limitations these illnesses impose. So, I have a choice. I can listen to my body and slow down when I need to, or not listen, plow ahead at full speed, and suffer the consequences. I try to listen.
Notice I said, try.
Two big triggers for my flares are stress and not enough deep, restorative, sleep.
Both seem to be a given for even those without health limitations when major holidays roll around. They are magnified for those with chronic illnesses.
In days gone by I decorated for every holiday. Right down to the shamrock candy dish with pale green mints. Not so any more. Just getting Christmas cards mailed and decorations on the Christmas tree have been major accomplishments some years.
With that in mind, here are fifteen tips which might help deal with holidays and chronic illness.
- Make spending time alone with God number one on your daily to do list.
- Do what’s most important first. Prioritize.
- Pace yourself.
- Stop when you get tired whether you complete what you set out to do or not.
- Fatigue is real. It’s not all in your mind.
- Give yourself permission to skip some activities.
- Every meal does not need to be an elaborate occasion.
- Ask for help when necessary.
- Exercise daily.
- Soaking in a warm tub of Epsom salts is not being selfish.
- Quit beating yourself up for not having a perfectly clean home.
- It’s okay to admit you can’t do everything you used to do.
- As much as possible, avoid people and situations that increase your stress.
- Understand what is essential and what is not.
- Don’t cave into others’ expectations of what you should do.
Each person is different. What works for me may not work for you and vice-versa. If you have any other tips on how to lessen the impact of holiday stress, I’d love to hear your ideas.
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Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)
I wish you well.
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