Tuesday 21 December 2021

Christmas with a chronic illness plus some tips

A green crochet Christmas tree with a brown stump at the bottom there is a button star at the top of the tree and it is decorated with differently coloured small pom-poms
Christmas is a lovely time of year. I love spending more time with my Dad who is off work as he's a teacher and I enjoy seeing my family. I love the kindness of my friends sending me cards and gifts and I enjoy making cards and gifts and sending them out in return.

However, this time of year can be difficult. I can't speak for all chronic illnesses only mine and how they affect me. I find Christmas affects different aspects of my illnesses. My limited energy means everything takes a lot longer to do and as I type this I still have a load of wrapping to do. Making, writing and sending out Christmas cards and gifts took me at least 6 weeks to do - I don't normally do Christmas cards but it was something I wanted to make an effort doing this year. I also have to plan a lot of things, things I want/need to do and how I will do them such as breaking up the task, ensuring I follow my daily plan and have regular rest periods, have restful days before Christmas Day to enjoy the day and then plan Christmas Day itself and then ensure I can rest and recover after Christmas Day so that I'm able to visit family which I really want to do as I haven't seen my cousins in quite a long time. 

There are also events that I have to decide to sit out of as it will be too much for me. I find my hypersensitivity is affected so having family round downstairs (which I'm sitting out of and laying in bed resting instead) and the noise from downstairs is too much so I put in my noise cancelling ear plugs and also my noise cancelling headphones. As well flashing fairy lights affect my hypersensitivity to light. I also find the cold makes my pain and muscle spasms worse.

Despite all this I set myself to focus on the enjoyment of Christmas and when you have a chronic illness or disability you do just learn to live with and adapt. Christmas just poses extra challenges compared to rest of the year.

Some of my tips for managing the holidays with a chronic illness or disability

A paper bag with the word prescription on it and the green pharmacy logo
(As I said above, I can't speak for all chronic illnesses but hopefully you may be able to relate to some of what I've written and also some of what I'm going to write about below.)

Ensure you have enough medication to keep you going!

Plan, plan, plan! List all you want to do, from doing some baking through to Christmas Day events

Use your activity management skills; don't do more than you're able to and listen to your body. If it's telling you that it's tired, in pain or flaring up etc stop and take a break and rest.

Pace yourself. Break tasks down such as Christmas card writing or wrapping gifts.

Though you can feel like your missing out your body isn't Superman and you may need to sit out of some things so you are able to enjoy the things you do take part in.