The holidays are such a joyful time, but they can also bring stress along with them. For those of us with chronic illness, that stress can be detrimental to our physical and mental health. It is possible to enjoy the holidays despite having a chronic illness by prioritizing self-care and making time for the things that matter most to you.
It’s important to identify and manage holiday stress. Let’s go over some holiday stress tips to help you have a healthier and happier holiday season.
Being clear about the things you need lets those around you know how to prepare for your stay and know how to best support you. Many patients aren’t comfortable sharing about their illness, but being more open can help those around you understand your condition and limits. Two common needs of those with chronic illness are often diet management and the need for rest during the day.
It can be challenging to disclose dietary needs, but it will go a long way in helping you feel your best while visiting with family. To make it easier, share a few safe foods with those preparing food so they do not feel stressed about altering the entire meal. Or perhaps even consider offering to bring a dish or two!
It’s important to convey your need for rest. Spending time out of your normal routine and actively interacting with others can be very draining for those with chronic illness. By sharing your need for rest ahead of time, those around you are already aware of your limits and can be more accommodating when you need time to rest.
People with chronic illness often find themselves exhausted following traveling or big events. It’s so important to block off a day or two afterwards to let your body recover before going back to your normal routine.
Self-care is the act of maintaining or improving one’s health. It can be a way to help reduce and manage stress which is essential because stress can often trigger a flare-up or worsening of symptoms. The most basic forms of self-care are often the most important: getting good rest, staying hydrated, moving your body when you can and eating well. These small steps can make a big difference in your holiday experience!
Boundaries are essential for our mental well-being. You are allowed to set limits for how much time you want to spend at a certain event, engaging in activities or spending time with certain people. Communicate your needs clearly and don’t feel pressured to explain yourself. You should also set realistic expectations for the holidays based on your limits and boundaries. Having boundaries and expectations may seem limiting, but it actually is freeing you to enjoy the holidays on your own terms.
Take time to do the things, be with the people, and share in the traditions that bring you joy and fulfillment. Whether it is baking, shopping for gifts, watching holiday movies or catching up with a friend, make time for what makes you happiest during the holidays.
- Plan ahead
The holidays are also known as an incredibly busy season . With so many things to do, it can lead to stress, overwhelm and frustration. While you can’t eliminate the hustle and bustle, there are ways to plan ahead to alleviate stress so you can focus your time and energy on what matters the most. Prior to the holiday season, set a budget and make any travel plans. Begin making lists of what things you need to do throughout the holidays, prioritize each list item and make the lists as detailed as you need them to be. Do as much prep as you can beforehand and find ways to break up tasks to avoid fatigue. If you have room in your budget, take advantage of conveniences, such as grocery delivery, house cleaners, paper goods, and online shopping for gifts, so you can reserve your time and energy for other tasks.
Everyone has a vision of the perfect holiday, but reality doesn’t always live up to our expectations. You are allowed to prioritize what is most important to you. No one knows your body or your illness like you do. Place your energy into what matters the most and don’t feel guilty about doing what is best for you.
If traveling for the holidays, pack extra medication, comfort items and your chronic illness essentials such as safe snacks, comfortable clothes, and any other items that give you comfort or help you relax. A weekly pill organizer or the Smart Sharps Bin can be helpful to ensure you don’t miss any of your medications while away from home. Having a document with your health history, current medications and insurance information can be very helpful in case you need to seek medical care.
You are only one person and can only accomplish so muchs. People want to help, so reach out and be clear about what kind of support you need most. You are not a burden if you need extra help, nor are you being difficult by asking for what you need.
When you feel stress levels rise, take a moment to pause, breathe and relax. To bring your stress levels down, you can use simple deep breathing exercises, try short meditation or mindfulness sessions, practice gratitude and take time away from social media. If you need more intense stress relief, meet with a therapist to find strategies to keep stress at bay.
Take care of yourself over the holidays. It’s the best gift you can give yourself and everyone you love!
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by HealthBeacon plc and the author was compensated and was given a Smart Sharps Bin free of charge. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of HealthBeacon or Hamilton Beach Brands.