How to Enjoy the Holidays With Chronic Pain

images (4)T-minus fifteen days until Christmas, the countdown has begun. We had our first real snowfall today. I watched as large fluffy snowflakes fell from the sky and a child like smile spread across my face. It was peaceful as I snuggled up on the couch allowing my body to rest. I still struggle giving myself the permission to do that.

When people suffer from chronic pain or illness the holiday season brings with it a whole new set of challenges. During every day life, we face balancing the simple things. We try to manage families, jobs, and daily stress all while enduring chronic pain every minute of every day. The second we open our eyes we evaluate what we will be able to handle. We re-evaluate each moment as it arises. It is how we live, and in my case I have learned to be grateful to be alive.

Over the years many of us adapt to new ways of living. We realize the importance of having a great support system. We also must learn to forgive and love this new version of ourselves.  This is vital during the holiday season.  Everything can become so hectic. Office parties and shopping, family dinners and decorating. It is a month-long chaotic mess on your calendar that leaves you more exhausted than normal.

Those of us who suffer from chronic illness or pain, fight fatigue on a grand scale. When you throw in a mountain of extras, our symptoms become unbearable at times. We can end up hospitalized if we don’t take extreme care and rest.

For those of you, like me, who have to fight these battles, here are some great care tips for this time of year.

  • Be gentle on yourself and lower your personal expectations

Allow others to help, and take those offers. Christmas won’t be ruined if those cookies are store-bought or made by others. I promise nobody is going to think less of you if that pie crust is store bought. Delegate that huge holiday feast, allow others to bring some side dishes.

  • Schedule time to rest

I know it is important to spend time with your loved ones over the holiday season. It is also just as important to schedule time to let your body rest and heal. We all know the consequences if we do not. It is so easy to get caught up in the seasons festivities and before we know it we are down for the count for days or weeks. Pace yourself and rest.

  • Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed if people don’t understand

We rest to heal. Stress can make our symptoms worse. There will always be people who understand this and people who do not. That is not for you to concern yourself with. Love yourself enough to do what is always best for you.

If you have a loved one in your family who suffers from chronic pain or illness here are some great tips to help them out over the holiday season.

  • Insist on helping in a direct way

Anyone who has had their life affected in this way has lost a lot, including their dignity at times. It is not ever easy for them to admit that they may need help. Insist that they go and rest while you do the clean up after the holiday feast. Tell them what it is you are bringing for dinner. Trust me, these little things go a long way in their lives.

  • Try to avoid generalizations

If you ask them “Is there anything I can do for you?” You will likely always be met with a “No, I’m fine.” Instead try offering to take them holiday shopping for an hour, wrapping a few gifts for them, or stopping over to see if you can do some light chores around the house or drive them to an appointment.

  • Nothing beats a good chat

When you are in constant pain you begin to feel a sense of isolation and loneliness at times. You begin to feel that you don’t want to “complain” to people anymore. Stop by with coffee, call and check up and just chat. Let them know you are there and you think they are doing amazing.

The sun has set and the snow is whipping past the street lights. It is highlighted and magical, once again it has plastered a smile across my face.  Be gentle on your body and your heart this holiday season. Find all the little reasons to smile.

Much Love ❤

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