It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, for some. However, for many people with a chronic illness, Christmas can be a daunting and overwhelming time. It can be difficult for Chronic Warriors to have a stress-free holiday with their illnesses.
Has this been the case for you? If so, know that it is more than possible to enjoy the holidays! In this post, I’m going to share tips with that are guaranteed to help you enjoy a stress-free holiday!
Follow These Tips;
1) Preparation Is Essential
The first step towards having a stress-free holiday, is to reflect on whether you are prepared for it. I’ve noticed that those who usually have a smooth Christmas holiday, tend to be plan-a-holics!
Everyone has their own expectations & traditions for holidays, so it’s important that you round up your ideas and plans.
- Plan your specific shopping lists
- Decide what gifts you will give to your loved ones – if you are buying for others who have a chronic illness, check out my suggestions at Chronic Christmas Gift Ideas: Wishlist
- Arrange what trips and visits you will make
- Plan what traditions you will maintain & activities you will participate in
Budgeting is very important during this season; spend within your means & avoid creating debt. It’s never worth the additional stress in the aftermath.
Lastly, get your planner or organiser in place. Use whichever device or method works best for you. Having a plan in place can put your mind at ease. We already know stress can flare up our chronic illnesses!
Please bare in mind that planning everything in advance, doesn’t always guarantee things will run smoothly. Sometimes plans fall through or change and that’s okay. Try to enjoy your holiday anyway!
2) Don’t Overbook Yourself
Christmas can be a time when everybody pulls at you – your family want to spend time with you, your friends might want to catch up, your children may be on a break from school and your work friends probably have their Christmas parties booked. Then you have your own plans as well! So many things are crammed into a very short period of time – which can be intense for Pain Warriors!
So when you are making your arrangements for your holidays, make sure you don’t overbook yourself. Space out your plans where possible and leave days in between, where you allow your body to recuperate.
Don’t do a disservice to yourself and your loved ones by taking on more than you can physically handle. Not only will it cause more pain for you, but it could lead to you being the miserable, antisocial one at the events. Stressing our bodies excessively won’t enable us to have a stress-free holiday.
3) Order What You Can Online
Once you have decided what food and gifts to buy this year – get them as early as you can.The sooner, the better! This prevents any worries about receiving your things in time. Not having the security of your food shopping or gifts in time is the antithesis of a stress-free holiday!
Most people don’t enjoy the last minute shopping or Christmas cramming. Doing such things would create aggravation for us with our chronic illnesses. Be good to yourself and order as much as you can online. That way, you will preserve your energy for the Christmas Holidays!
4) Have Your Medication & Preventative Aids Ready
There’s nothing worse than when you have a flare up or attack during an event in the holidays. Having those on a regular day can be frustrating as it is, but having them during a special occasion can be disappointing & disheartening.
Many places shut down in the lead up to Christmas and the new year, so I encourage you to stock up on any additional medication or aids that you usually use. It’s important to have everything you may need in place, just in case. It will not benefit you to run out of supplies during a time when shops and deliveries are overbooked or slowed down.
An important factor that helps to have a stress-free holiday, is to get ahead of any potential situations and avoid them where you can. This is a situation that you can possibly control and prevent from happening.
5) Make Adjustments To Avoid Triggers
Ah triggers…they’re such a pain in the…well…everything, for us! We have seen too many days switch from being ‘okay’ to ‘oh no’.
This can be difficult to execute when visiting others or going to places that you’re unfamiliar with. Unfortunately we can’t control unfamiliar places, but what about when visiting family and friends?
It’s best to have a talk with your loved ones about any potential triggers or concerns that you may have and see if they can make any adjustments for you.
Also, try to use preventative measures to reduce your chances of flare ups or attacks being triggered. Do whatever is necessary to help you to have your stress-free holiday!
6) Take Everything An Hour At A Time
The holidays entails long days. But try not to focus on the long day ahead of you. Instead, focus on taking everything an hour at a time.
Doing this means you are monitoring how you feel at multiple points throughout the day, and deciding what your next moves should be accordingly. Don’t try to rush or cram anything, as that will only put you under more stress which will ruin your holiday. That wouldn’t be good for anybody.
Do what you can, whenever you can. But move at your own pace.
7) Preserve Your Energy & Rest When Necessary
It’s important to be strategic when you have a lot to juggle. This season is no exception.
Try not to be excessive in whatever it is that you have to do. Do not create more work for yourself that you know you can’t manage. Be intentional in making sure you incorporate resting into your plans. Maintain guaging how your body feels at multiple points of the day. Then make sure you are slowing down or resting when necessary.
8) Tackle That Anxiety
Disclaimer: when I mention ‘anxiety’ here, I am not focusing on the diagnosed condition that people battle with. I understand that condition is very complex and has many layers to it – this point is not to ‘heal’ that condition. This point is aimed at daily, common anxieties that people (who do not suffer with the diagnosed condition) may face.
We’ve all been there. We’ve all experienced those times when we’ve been bombarded with worries about special occasions potentially being disrupted by our illnesses. But we have to make sure we don’t allow ourselves to become consumed by those thoughts.
These type of daily anxieties are fears of a ‘what if’, that hasn’t actually happened yet. Having such anxiety cramps our excitement & causes stress that our bodies shouldn’t be dealing with. This can ultimately increase the chances of an attack or flare up being triggered off.
Whenever those fears pay you a visit, please try your best to put them aside. I know, it’s much easier said than done – but it’s not impossible. Keep focusing on the prospect that your holiday might actually turn out to be great instead. Having optimism in the face of negativity, can help you to be triumphant. It’s important for you to choose to have a stress-free holiday – in order to start putting things in place to make that happen.
9) Have An Open Mind
None of us know what lies ahead of us this holiday – good or bad. Your plans might be very successful or fall through. Your Christmas might be even better or worse than you expected it to be. You might meet new people or come across old acquaintances. Whatever happens, have an open mind no matter what. You might find a blessing in ways that you wouldn’t expect.
Also, don’t deny yourself the opportunity to participate and have fun. Don’t be too critical of yourself, your circumstances nor your illness. Just go with the flow the best way that you can.
10) Live In The Moment & Enjoy Yourself!
This is ultimately the most important point. We can plan everything as much as possible, but we must remember to actually enjoy the holiday itself. Some people become so consumed with preparing the most epic, perfect holiday – that they actually forget to have fun and be present in the moment.
Remember to enjoy yourself; revel in the presence of your friends and family this Christmas. Love and appreciate them. Give to others. Have gratitude for what you do have, rather than pine over what you don’t have. Celebrate that you have actually made it through this year; so many others haven’t.
Make the most of the Christmas holidays this year – regardless of whether everything goes according to plan or not. Remember Jesus is the reason for the season after all and that’s the greatest gift we could ever receive.
So what tips do you have for others with chronic illnesses to enjoy a stress-free Christmas? Comment below and share with us!
Until next time,