The holidays are a time when many people come together to celebrate and spend time with family, friends, and other loved ones. However, for those of us with disabilities, the holidays can simultaneously be a time of stress and anxiety. There are many things to consider when figuring out how to survive the holiday season with chronic illness.
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Why are the holidays more difficult for spoonies?
The holiday season can stress out even the healthiest person but, for many of us with chronic conditions, the most wonderful time of the year is also one of the most difficult seasons.
People with chronic illnesses often have to spend more time than usual resting and managing their symptoms. This can be even more difficult to do during a time when there is so much going on. The holidays can be a time when people are extra busy with shopping, parties, and family gatherings. It can be hard to rest and take care of oneself when there is so much to do.
Cold Winter Weather
Additionally, the cold weather and lack of sunlight can worsen the symptoms of many chronic illnesses. Cold winter weather can exacerbate the symptoms of chronic illnesses in a few ways. First of all, cold weather can cause the airways to constrict, which can make it more difficult to breathe for people with asthma. Additionally, cold weather can cause the blood vessels to constrict, which can lead to a decrease in blood pressure in people with conditions like heart disease. And finally, the lack of sunlight can worsen the symptoms of conditions like Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Holiday Stressors and Pressures
The holiday season can also be a difficult time because of the added stress that comes with it. There is often a lot of pressure to have a perfect holiday, which can be difficult for people who are already struggling with their health. This pressure can come from family, friends, or even from you yourself. It can be tough to feel like you are missing out on all the holiday fun, or like you are not living up to everyone’s expectations.
Even More Expenses
Additionally, the expense of the holidays can be a burden for people with disabilities, who often have to make tough choices about what they can afford. Chronic illnesses can be very expensive to treat. People with chronic conditions may have to pay for regular doctor’s visits, medication, and special treatments. The cost of the holidays can be a stressor on top of these already high expenses.
Loneliness and Isolation
Finally, the holiday season can be a difficult time because it can be lonely. For people who are unable to travel or who have limited social support, the holidays can be a lonely time. This can be made even worse by the fact that everyone else seems to be celebrating and having a good time.
Despite all of these challenges, it is important to remember that the holiday season is still a time for celebration. There are many things that people with chronic illnesses can do to make the season more enjoyable.
Plan things in advance.
The most important thing is to plan ahead. Make a list of what you need to do to prepare for the holiday, and try to stick to it. This will help reduce the amount of stress you feel. If there are certain things that tend to cause problems for you during the holidays, try to avoid them or plan for them. For example, if traveling tends to be difficult for you, try to stay close to home or create safeguards against the worst triggers. If being around a lot of people makes you feel overwhelmed, try to plan activities that don’t involve a lot of people. If you are not feeling well, take some time for yourself to rest and relax.
Take preventive measures.
Before your holiday celebrations (whatever those may be), spend some time putting together a personal chronic illness holiday survival kit and ensuring you have your must-haves throughout the festivities. From migraine medication to items you use for fibromyalgia relief, having these essentials can make or break your holiday season.
Weigh your pros and cons.
The holidays can also be a time of temptation. There are often foods and drinks that are not good for people with chronic illnesses. It can be hard to resist these temptations, but it is important to do so. Make sure you have healthy foods and drinks available to you and try to stay away from foods that will make you feel sick.
Find ways to manage your stress.
The holidays can also be a time of stress and anxiety, but there are ways to make this part of the holiday season a bit easier. One of the best ways to manage your stress is to take some time for yourself. This may mean taking a few minutes each day to relax and practice some deep breathing exercises.
Need someone to talk to about these stressors? Try Talkspace therapy!
Connect with those who get it.
Another way to manage stress is to talk to others who are also living with a chronic illness. There are often a lot of shared experiences and advice that can be helpful during the holiday season. You can find support groups online or in your local community. Chances are, you’ve already connected with fellow spoonies while dealing with undiagnosed conditions, surviving the October slide, or otherwise dealing with your particular disability. Take advantage of these communities in moments like these!
Maintain your normal self-care routine.
Self-care is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for those of us with chronic illnesses. The holiday season can be a challenging time, both physically and emotionally, and it’s important to maintain your normal self-care routine to make it through. This includes things like getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and taking your medications as prescribed. It’s also important to take some time for yourself, whether that means taking a relaxing bath, reading a book, or taking a walk outdoors.
Planning a self-care day between holiday celebrations? Check out our selection of the best self-care films to make the most of it.
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Relax and enjoy the holidays.
Despite the added burden of chronic illness, it’s crucial that you take time to relax and enjoy whatever winter holidays you celebrate. The holidays are a time to reflect on the past year and spend time with family and friends. They’re also a time to celebrate, relax and rejuvenate. Even if your illness makes it difficult to participate in all the festivities, be sure to find ways to enjoy yourself. Maybe that means watching holiday movies, baking cookies, or taking a long walk. Do what you can to make the most of your unique celebration.
The holidays can be a difficult time for anyone, but they can be especially difficult for those living with chronic illnesses. However, with a little bit of planning and preparation, the holidays can be a time that you can enjoy despite your symptoms.