Navigating the Holidays with Chronic Pain / Illness
The Holidays can move us out of our routines, which can increase stress and symptoms. It helps to plan ahead to maximize joy and minimize stress. Here are a few tried-and-true suggestions:
Lights. Outdoor Laser lights (Projections) are inexpensive and so easy to set up and store you will wonder why you ever did anything else.
Tree. A 4 foot (or smaller) artificial tree can be put away fully decorated by wrapping it in plastic. Once decorated, it works on the floor or on a small table and takes very little effort and less than 15 minutes to set up.
Cards. E-cards are the way to go. Once you set up an e-mailing list, copy and paste all addresses on the BC line (so they can’t see the other entries), type a holiday greeting, add a photo if you like. Hit send. Your done. Gradually build your mailing list overtime, if this task is stressful.
Gift wrapping. Minimize the time and effort of this task with gift bags. Items that won’t fit in gift bags can be wrapped in fabric or a scarf with a ribbon.
Food. Order in. Integrate frozen or ready-prepared items into home-made recipes. Make less food – turkey breasts instead of the whole bird. Do a pot luck. Bottom line: make sure you have enough energy left over after dinner to enjoy visiting.
Simplify. The goal is to enjoy the company of others and to cultivate a sense of gratitude. Graciously let go of things that do not move you toward this goal.
Pace yourself. Prioritize. Don’t try to do it all. It’s OK to politely decline an invitation and/or postpone a visit until after the holidays.
Work ahead, a little at a time. Look at what you can prepare in advance of the holidays. Purchase and freeze food. Prepare laundry and put it aside. Prepare gifts well in advance.
Ask for help. Be specific and upbeat about your needs. You won’t necessarily get the help you need unless you ask for it. And sharing tasks is an opportunity to enjoy the season together.
Posted by Integrative Wellness, Inc., & Natalie Dowty, PT, MPT, EdD