Having a Happier Holiday Season Despite Chronic Illness

Holidays and Fibromyalgia
Holidays and Fibromyalgia
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With November upon us, we now find ourselves on the cusp of what is arguably the most magical, and also most stressful time of the year. With the holidays coming into sight, so too, comes the hustle and bustle of preparing for them.

For many, November and December are filled with family, friends, and a fever pitch of activity. For some, especially those of us who are already battling chronic illness, these months can be filled with exhaustion and pain.

As someone who lives with the chronic pain condition Fibromyalgia, I have learned to cope with the added demands of this cheerful time of the year in new ways in order to accommodate my desire to participate in the festivities while still managing my pain and fatigue.

Here are a few tips to ease the negative impacts of a demanding holiday schedule for someone who suffers from imperfect health; but, as many get rundown during the cold months, they following can readily be applied to anyone.

Plan– Make sure to spend extra time at the beginning of November doing as much planning ahead as possible. Use downtime and quite moments to make lists of everything from meals- along with the groceries you will need for each, to a list of people you need to buy gifts for and any gist ideas you may have. Keep the list on your cell phone for easy access whenever a thought comes to mind, or on a pad of paper next to a place you often rest.

Divide and Concur– It may be time to let go of the notion that you have to be superwoman or superman and do everything yourself. Often people are happy to be asked to help, and it will make your life easier to manage by delegating tasks and chores.

This may mean you decide not to host both Thanksgiving and Christmas at your house this year; or, maybe you merely reach out to invited guests early and ask them what they will be bringing so less of the preparation falls on your shoulders.

Within your own household you can give children their own chores to help prepare. For example, younger children may help with tasks such as dusting or changing sheets, while older children can contribute by completing a list of errands or assisting with decorating.

Rest– Never underestimate the power of giving yourself a break! In the case of fibromyalgia and many other autoimmune and chronic illnesses, pushing yourself too hard will lead to more time spent recovering from the crash that follows than had you jut paced yourself from the beginning. Learn to listen closely to your body’s signals that it may be time to rest. Sometimes a cup of coffee or tea in a quite room may be enough to recover your energy.

Be Choosey– Don’t be afraid to politely decline an invitation if you are feeling too taxed. In order to truly enjoy the spirit of the season you may not be able to attend every event you are invited to- and that’s ok.

In the same mindset, re-evaluate the tasks and expectations you have for yourself during these months.

Especially if you are newly diagnosed, you may need to realize that your goals are no longer accomplishable. Think about the dishes or decorations that give you the most joy and aim to create them, any that are more effort than reward should be considered for elimination from your holiday routine.

No matter who you are, November and December can be as draining as they are joyous. If you are one of the millions of people who live with a chronic condition, the tables can quickly turn and leave you struggling to participate in the merriment at all.

This year, put your needs into focus by following these simple tips so you can see beyond the symptoms of your disease and experience the warmth of the coldest months of the year!

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Emily Macchiavello
Emily has always had a passion for words. Although her career is in teaching, writing has never been far from her heart.
Emily is a mother of three who loves travel, fashion, yoga and generally making the most of what life has to offer. She finds happiness in raising her family in Charlotte, and takes pride in being a part of this friendly community.
Emily teaches English and Spanish at a K-8 Charter school in Charlotte, and holds a B.S in English Education and a M.A in Literature.