The holiday season is officially in full swing so today I wanted to share with you all my top tips for coping with a chronic illness throughout this busy time. The holidays are meant to be an exciting and happy time, so with the help of these tips hopefully you will be able to fully enjoy the holidays without your chronic illness getting in the way.
1. Set Limits & Say No
It can be easy to get overwhelmed with the number of holiday parties and get-together’s throughout the season. That is why it is very important to set your limits and say no when you need to. Try not to overbook yourself and compromise your physical or mental health in the process. Saying no can be difficult, but being very open and transparent with the host is the best route to take. This will avoid any misunderstanding between you and the host.
For the events you do attend be sure to set appropriate limits and say no when it does not feel good. This could mean leaving by a certain time to get ample rest, saying no to the cookies because sugar is your trigger food, or limiting who you have conversations with in order to keep your mental space a priority. Regardless of what this may look like for you, be sure to make yourself a priority and know your appropriate limit.
2. Bring Comfort Items
In order to keep yourself comfortable at holiday parties be sure to bring your favorite comfort items. This means wearing or bringing comfortable clothing to change into, and bringing any medications/items that will make you feel relaxed and more at ease. For myself, I like to make sure I always have my peppermint oil and bag of extra medications in case I do feel sick all of a sudden. I usually don’t need to use the items, but if I do, I know I have them and this brings me peace of mind.
3. Bring Your Own Foods If Necessary
Many people with a chronic illness have dietary restrictions, so bringing your own food can be really helpful during the holidays. At the end of the day, the host just wants you to be happy and comfortable. So, ask them in advance if you can bring some of your own food either for yourself, or as a dish to share with the whole party. Otherwise, plan to eat in advance before the party. I have done this before when going to a party for people that I did not know very well.
4. Be Realistic
During the holidays we can put a lot of extra stress on ourselves to do it all. But, I think it is very important to be realistic with yourself and what you can do, and let go of the rest. There is no sense in dwelling on the parties or events you can’t go to. Instead, focus on enjoying your time at these places when you do go. Be realistic with what your mental and physical health can handle to avoid burnout.
5. Focus on Enjoying Activities Other Than Food
The holidays are often focused around food and meals. So, it can be hard to enjoy yourself when you have a lot of dietary restrictions or know that certain foods are triggers for you. So, instead of focusing on the food, try to spend your time doing other activities. Focus your attention on watching a Christmas film, or having conversations with family and friends. By shifting your perspective on what you CAN DO over what you CANT do, it will help you to feel a lot better and more in control.
6. Eat Smaller Meals More Frequently
Indulging in massive amounts of food can leave us feeling bloated, tired, and not very good. So, instead of stuffing your face, force yourself to enjoy smaller meals more frequently. If you are scared of missing out on the big Christmas dinner you can always ask to fill a takeout container with some left overs for the next day.
7. Stay Hydrated
Hydration is very important throughout the year but especially around the holidays. The holiday meals and bake goods are loaded with sugar and salt so it is important to detoxify with lots of water. Dehydration can also make your chronic illness symptoms worse. My top tip for hydration is to bring a water bottle EVERYWHERE you go. I bring one with me into every room of the house, in the car, when I go shopping, etc. This small action helps to keep hydration top of mind always.
8. Keep a Routine as Much as Possible
My routines are very important to me and they help to keep me sane. That is why I try my best to keep up with my routines throughout the year, especially busy times like exams and the holiday season. My morning and night routines are filled with moments of self care and mindfulness, so if I skip those I know that I am much more frantic and less myself. So, I encourage you to stick to your routine as much as possible in order to avoid a shock to your mental and physical health.
9. Don’t Skip Your Meds
Be sure to stay on top of your medications and supplements throughout the holiday season. This is an easy way to derail your health quickly. So, if you think you may forget, set a reminder on your phone or lay your medications out in a spot you will see them. Whatever you need to do, don’t skip your medications!!
10. Have Fun & Let Loose a Little
The holidays are meant to be fun, so let loose and try to go with the flow as much as possible. If you follow the previous tips you will be set up very well to thoroughly enjoy the holidays and all that comes with them. Try not to get caught up in the details of life and be in the present moment with friends and family.
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I hope that this list of tips helps you to prepare for the holidays and all that comes with them. I wish you a fantastic holiday season that is full of happy moments with friends and family.
QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU DO TO STAY SANE AND HEALTHY THROUGHOUT THE HOLIDAYS?
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Your trusty, gutsy gal,