Let your diary become your friend during the holiday season. The less stress the better, so make lists, and priorities. Plan what you are going to do, focusing on the most important, and you may realise there are other, less important things you can just let go or plan to do after the holidays. Planning the details in advance takes the stress away. Plan time to do things so that you aren’t running around last minute. Try not to over estimate your energy levels in your planning – and give yourself time between each event or activity.
2 Enlist Support
This is a time when you need the help of supportive friends and family. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – look at the activities you have planned and your to do lists and think what others could do to take the pressure off. An understanding friend who is out doing their errands will only be too glad to help pick something up for you. Don’t feel that you have to do it all alone – although people are busy, this is a time to enter into the community spirit – the spirit of giving. Receive support to help things go a little more smoothly for you.
People don’t always know and understand your needs unless you tell them. Especially if you have an invisible illness and look great, people might not understand that you need a comfortable chair at the party, or that you have diary free food requirements, or that you can only pop in for a little while due to the effects of your illness. It does no harm to have a chat with hosts/friends/family beforehand, explaining why you have to do things a certain way, and how your illness affects you. That way, people will be more understanding and are more likely to accommodate you. Do also communicate when you are feeling low during this season: Christmas is a highly emotional time and when things aren’t going the way you had expected them to in life, its understandable that at times it will get you down. Reach out to others for emotional support, and find others online who are going through similar experiences. Never suffer alone.
4 Know your limitations
While its natural to want to say yes to every invitation, meet people you haven’t seen in awhile, and enter into all the festive celebrations, its so important to take a step back and listen to your body. As frustrating as it is to have to pull back when others are having fun, the reality is that you are dealing with a chronic illness, and it is wise to know your limits. You alone know how far you can go, and what the consequences will be if you overdo it. For some, it will be worth it and you can plan some extra rest for the following day/take pain medication – for others it will be a disastrous decision that will have weeks of backlash. Know your limitations and be confident to say ‘No’. You can plan to make sure you have special times with your family and friends during the holidays that are not going to set you back.
5 Make time to relax
The holidays can be busy and stressful with many demands on time and energy – help yourself recover your energy by making time to relax frequently. This will help to prevent tension from building up and balance your energy. Have naps, hot baths, quiet walks, time out from socialising to be alone and perhaps read a book. Try to be mindful of your surroundings, thoughts and emotions, and aware of what you can be thankful for.