The holidays can be difficult to navigate when you have a chronic illness. Food, family and travelling can easily throw you into a flare-up. If your illness is new then there is the added pressure of ‘coming out’ to family members who may or may not be accepting of your new lifestyle. If your family is already aware of your illness, there may be members who do not understand your illness or make snarky comments about it.
Here are a few tips to help you navigate the holiday season without using up all your spoons:
1. Prioritise your health
This may seem obvious, but it is easy to forget if you’re distracted by all the commotion of visiting family. Take regular breaks from activities and make sure that you have a quiet space to rest if you’re staying away from home. Pacing is key when you’re away from home or if your house is full of people.
2. Stick to your diet (if you have one for health needs)
If you’ve recently started a new diet for your illness, then it is tempting to go off it so that you can enjoy all the holiday food. This is likely to undo all your good work and send you into a flare. Make sure that whoever is preparing the food is aware of your dietary requirements. Also, don’t overload your stomach if you’re used to having small meals.
3. Choose one or two family events to go to and skip the rest if you need to
If you have a large family or live in a different city to them, then it is likely that you’ll be invited to several event/ meals over the holiday season. Don’t feel pressured into attending all of them. Do what you can manage.
4. Remove yourself from stressful situations
Do you have an Auntie who doesn’t believe in fibromyalgia? Does your brother-in-law make snarky comments about the fact that you don’t work anymore? If you find yourself in a hostile environment that is making your condition worse, just walk away.
5. Just skip it altogether
If your illness is particularly severe, then you may want to consider skipping the celebrations altogether. This is what I did for the first few years of my illness. Having a chill Christmas with your SO is just as fun. Watch The Grinch in your favourite PJ’s whilst eating your favourite meal.
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