Manage Stress During the Holidays

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is in FULL swing!

This is my favorite time of year. The lights, the music, gathering with friends and family, those holiday warm and fuzzies...I just love it! Some of you may agree with me, and some of you may remember feeling that way about the holidays, but perhaps now you feel a bit differently.

It wasn’t that long ago where my once beloved holiday season was something that created a massive amount of stress for me. The holidays can be a stressful and emotional time for those who are dealing with a chronic illness, not to mention exhausting!

Many things change as we navigate life with a chronic illness. And in the beginning it can be very difficult to wrap your head around. It is very important to be gentle with yourself in this process of “trying to figure things out.” It requires a bit more planning, yes, different than what you have been used to, yes, your current reality, yes. So instead of pushing to keep up, how can we find ways to support ourselves during the most “wonderful time of the year?”

Through some exploration, trial and error I put some things in place for myself so that I am able to enjoy the holidays without the added stress, supporting myself so that I can feel my best.

While I am writing this for those chronic warriors out there, much of what I share here can be for anyone with a few tweaks here and there. It may also be helpful to you if someone close to you is struggling with a chronic health condition.

I hope you find these tips as helpful as I have.

5 tips to help you have a more enjoyable holiday season.

  1. Make a list and check it twice: If you plan to travel during the holidays, plan ahead and make a list of EVERYTHING you need to pack. This will help with possible last minute stress that may creep in if you are running around trying to figure out what you need to bring along. This list is going to look different for everyone, but some key items might be medications, supplements, essential oils (I never leave home without them), anything you use on a daily basis that brings you comfort, etc. Knowing that you have what you need to support you while away, helps you stay on your routine and allows you to enjoy time with friends and family.

  2. Schedule appointments ahead of time: You want to go into the holidays feeling your best right? Think about any treatments or services you may need and schedule them as close to the holidays as possible. That way, when things kick into high gear, you are feeling as good as you possibly can.

  3. Food prep: I don’t talk much about food. But let’s face it, it a big part of the holidays. If you have any food sensitivities or allergies be sure to let your family and friends know ahead of time. You might also think about preparing some dishes to bring along with you as well. This can be an uncomfortable subject for some. Maybe you don’t want to be a burden, complicate things. A word of advice...don’t linger in that place for too long. Chances are your friends and fam will be more than happy to accommodate and have some food that will be yummy and safe for you to enjoy.

  4. Be present, rather than giving presents: A very real reality for many struggling with a chronic illness is that money can be tight. The cost of treatments and medications alone and then throw in those not covered by insurance add up. This can be one of the most stressful aspects of the holidays. Don’t stretch yourself here, you don’t need the added stress of this. Be honest with those you normally exchange gifts with. They will surely understand. You can have meaningful experience without physical things. Being present with each other is truly the greatest gift anyone could give or receive.

  5. Self-care: I wasn’t going to leave it out, my friends. I know I talk about it often. It’s so important that we not forget about self-care during the holidays. It is sometimes the first thing to fall off as it is an incredibly busy time of year. But it is vital to take this time for yourself during this time to do what you need to do for you. Listen to your body. If you need to cancel plans, do it. You are not being selfish. As much as we would like to just be OK and not have to slow down this time of year, the fact is our health and our bodies need the same amount of attention and care. Your loved ones will understand. If they don’t...well, that’s a conversation for another time. Don’t play with fire my friends, give yourself the time and space you need. Think of the alternative, pushing yourself, your body to the point that it’s going to become very unhappy and uncomfortable. Is that how you want to spend the holidays? Take the time, make the time. Your body + your mind will be ever so grateful.

Lots of love, laughter + cheer!