5 Tips for Enjoying Christmas While Suffering from a Chronic Illness
December 16, 2018
I love Christmas and the holiday season, but for years it was hard for me to enjoy them. I suffered with a chronic illness for years that caused me great physical pain as well as causing me fatigue without notice. Because of this, doing anything I enjoyed was difficult, including enjoying Christmas and the holiday season in general. Although I am not ready to openly discuss my illness and my health online, I will say I’m on the road to recovery. Despite this, I am still unable to travel and do a lot of things I would love to do.
Since we are a week away from Christmas, I decided to take this time to write a more serious post than my previous posts this Blogmas and give five tips for enjoying Christmas and the Holiday season while suffering with a chronic illness.
Make a List of What You Want/Need to Do in Order of Importance
The holiday season is a crazy time of the year and it’s easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit and forget things you want and need to do. No matter if it’s going Christmas shopping or donate your time to help a charity, it is essential to create a list of what you want and need to do, but if you are suffering from a chronic illness, it is also a useful tool to help you know when you need to get something done before a specific date.
When you make a list, always put what you need to do before what you want to do as well as list the needs in order of importance. This way, if you experience a day when you have a good health day and can do more than you normally could, you can cross off the important things off you list first thus giving you the chance to do what you want to and enjoy.
Attend Holiday Events that Happen on Multiple Days & Are Less Stressful
If you love the holiday season, attending holiday events is a great way to celebrate as well as get you out of the house for a while. Attending holiday events are not always easy or an option for someone with a chronic illness because of the risk of a bad health day. Because of this, try to attend events that last throughout the month of December (and sometimes November) instead of going to an event that is held for one day or night only. That way, if you don’t feel good one day, you will have other opportunities to attend. Another option is to attend an event that will allow you to sit and rest, such as going to the movies to watch a Christmas movie. This will allow you to do something holiday themed while not putting too much stress and pressure on yourself to stand and walk for long periods of time.
Plan Ahead for Shopping Trips
Shopping trips are tiring and it’s even more so for someone suffering from chronic illness. If you are going to go shopping for presents at a store, plan ahead. Try to go during a time of the day when you know you will feel good or you will not run into a lot of people in the store. If you are going to a shopping mall, pick a place that has elevators and plenty of places for you to sit and rest. Also, plan ahead what stores you want/need to shop at and where they are located in the mall. Doing this will help gauge how much time you will need to spend shopping as well as how far you must travel to get to all the stores you want to go to.
Spend Time With People Who Understand that Your Illness Limits You Physically, Not Mentally
The last thing anyone with a chronic illness wants to do is spend time with someone who treats you like you are not limited by you illness, but you will power. Chronic illness fatigue is not about will power. It’s about how much energy your body can spare to do normal activities while healing and trying to take care of itself. That’s why, during this time of the year when spending time with family and friends is the norm, spending time with someone who has empathy and understands your illness causes you to no be able to do everything you want to or used to be able to is important. This is not easy to do when someone you care about treats your symptoms and fatigue as a mind-over-matter issue, but it is better to spend time away from someone who will not respect you and the illness you suffer from than to put yourself into a bad situation due to someone’s lack of empathy and care.
Don’t Dwell on What You Cannot Do. Dwell on Everything You Can and Did Do
Studies have shown that someone that suffers from chronic illness can cause a person to feel very depressed. The holiday season is so full of events and expectations that it can wear down and exhaust a healthy person. If you cannot do everything you wanted to do during the holiday season, don’t dwell on it. Instead, dwell on everything you can and did do, no matter how “boring” or unexciting it was compared to what you could do when healthy. Dwelling on what you did distracts your mind from focusing on what you didn’t do and helps avoid depression caused by the knowledge that you are unable to do everything you once was able to.