6 Tips for Surviving the Holiday Stress with a Chronic Illness


Holidays can be tiring with a chronic illness For many, the winter season and all of its holiday joy is the most anticipated time of the year. Children look forward to brightly wrapped presents under the tree, the school break, and the first few snowfalls. Others look forward to the opportunity to spend some time with loved ones while taking part in cherished traditions. Holiday cheer is in the air and generosity and love are in abundance.

However, for those struggling with chronic illness, pain, and fatigue, these months can be challenging and exhausting. Here are a few suggestions that might help ease your holiday stress:

1. Go at your own pace

There seems to be a list of never-ending tasks to do to prepare for the holidays, and that means running left and right to plan dinners, bake cookies, send out cards, and buy presents. While it is important to stay organized and get things done, it shouldn’t be at the cost of your physical and mental sanity.

Know your limits and don’t push yourself too hard. That may mean extra naps and less productivity. By starting in advance, you can take your time to accomplish what must be done. Leave time to rest and don’t be afraid to go at a slower pace.

2. Prioritize

Don’t go crazy trying to make the “perfect” holiday memories. Decide what’s most important for you and your family and focus on that. Depending on your health, you might not be able to attend or plan all the things you did in past years, and that’s okay.

And let’s be honest, your family and friends may be disappointed that you can’t get as much done or attend every holiday party, but it is okay to say no if it is too much.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Families come together during the holidays despite health struggles

You’re not in this alone! It can be hard to accept that while ill, your body isn’t capable of what it once was. While it would be nice to be able to do everything on your own, sometimes you just have to accept that you can’t do it all. Dividing tasks and collaborating with friends and family can relieve some of your stress!

4. Plan in advance

This can mean different things for everyone. For some chronic illness warriors, you might be able to get through your entire holiday to-do list if you give yourself enough time and plan accordingly. For others, no amount of planning will ever give them the energy to accomplish all they wish they could.

Planning ahead, though, is still a useful tactic in combating the holiday stress. For example, if your friends and family know you might not be able to help as much, they can rearrange their plans. Let your guests know in advance if they can stay with you or not. If it’s too much of a burden, they will have time to find another place to stay.

5. Set expectations for gift-giving

Your family and friends don’t love you because you buy them expensive gifts, but being clear about what you are able to do this holiday season will save everybody a lot of stress, anxiety, and disappointment.

The financial burden of a chronic illness and the often inability to work makes it seem impossible that there could ever be room for extras. While the holidays are a big time for spending, you don’t need an excessive amount of money to buy the best presents or to make the best dinner. A simple-to-make baked treat or lower costing gift is just as good as an extravagant one. You and your loved ones may even decide to eliminate gifts altogether!

6. Be nice to yourself

Please don’t be so hard on yourself! Not only will it be a better experience for you if you let go some of the weight your carrying, but your family and friends will appreciate your better mood.

A million things could go wrong this holiday season. You’ll be stressed and in pain regardless of how well you plan or prioritize, but if you make an effort to not blame yourself, you’ll still have a wonderful holiday!

You deserve to enjoy this holiday season with your friends and family. Don’t allow Lyme to rob you of enjoying the time you do have by filling it with unnecessary stress. While it may not be ideal, give yourself permission to create new routines and traditions that maintain the festiveness of the season without wearing you down.

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