The Ultimate Guide for Surviving the Holidays with Fibromyalgia and CFS/ME and Chronic Health Issues
Now that elections are over with, and thank goodness for that, it is the season to shift
gears and prepare for the holidays.
We have 13 days until Thanksgiving, 30 days until Hanukkah, 46 days until Christmas, 47
days until Kwanzaa, and then New Years. Don't hate me, it's just the facts, scary, I know!
Sometimes contemplating the Mayan Apocalypse is easier than the thought of all the
upcoming holidays. (lol) That, or the sheer terror of deciding which new holiday recipe
to try from Pinterest. Fear not, hopefully these survival tips will make the holidays a
If you are having the big holiday in your home, do as much as you can in advance, and
plan your menu.
Side dishes can be made in advance, stored in the freezer, and cooked on the big day.
Starting a few days prior helps. Desserts and dishes like stuffing are often better
the second day.
Think about lightening up some dishes. Mashed potatoes are great with some celery
root, just add it to your potatoes. If you want to go over the top, think about adding
some bacon, cheese, or green onions to your potatoes. Hello, who doesn't love a twice
baked mashed potato casserole.
If you are having a large gathering, delegate, delegate, delegate is the rule, the only
rule! This can be difficult, but for those of us who were perfectionists or type-A's,
it is necessary with chronic health conditions.
Have those friends and family who live nearby, bring a side dish. I like to ask what they
would like to bring, but I see nothing wrong in assigning a dish. It helps to follow up
with a phone call a few days before, just to confirm and remind them.
Who doesn't love some help with cooking and clean up, as my friend Cynthia Ila pointed
out, it's just nice to have someone helping out and keeping you company in the kitchen.
Clean up is a good time to work on your delegations skills and if all else fails, if you
have teen grandchildren, bribe them with dollars, chocolate, or future potential
Lower Your Expectations
Lowered expectations can help, examine your own expectations about the holidays. And by
the way, stop it - yes - stop feeling guilty about what you can no longer do! It is far
more important to focus on what you 'can' do.
While everyone loves the Norman Rockwell paintings of the holidays, let me say just one
thing - they are fictional characters lol! One thing I love about Rockwell's work, is he
does inject a lot of humor into his work, and so must we.
Think about what is most important; it's about being with those you love unconditionally
and enjoying the experience. And, if there are any loved ones on 'conditional' terms,
just seat them at the kids table!
I like to limit drinks to one cocktail before dinner and wine or beer with the meal.
Unless you're the cook, then by all means, sip away! I would actually buy just enough
alcohol to make the cocktails, and a bottle of red and white wine. If someone brings
wine as a hostess gift...wait and gauge the zoo...I mean the relatives. (lol)
Alcoholic beverages have been know to lead to emotional meltdowns or fights...think Mel
Gibson...you don't want to deal with that kind of hot mess. Survival skill of
importance, set aside a small bottle of your favorite, as you will probably want to save
that wine or toddy for later, after everyone goes home.
Other Things To Remember
Forgetting your meds is one thing that's so easy to do. Set a timer, write a
note, set the alarm on your cell phone, just try to stay on schedule. One thing I am
guilty of is forgetting to eat, so nibble away.
If you have low blood sugar, you need protein about every 2-4 hours. This is also a good
time to consider water soluble vitamins, they offer rapid delivery, will keep you
hydrated, and help with your energy levels.
If you are starting out your day with aches, think about taking a soak with some Epsom
Salts to start your day. Depending on your pain levels, a dose of Vitamin D. Milk
Thistle, and Magnesium may be in order.
Take frequent breaks, with large family gatherings, sensory overload can hit us hard.
You have Aunt Marge's perfume, the house is all lit up with light, the noise volume from
conversation goes up (another reason to limit the alcohol.) If you find yourself feeling
those sensations, just go step outside for a few minutes and take a few deep breaths.
Shifting perspective and focusing on nature has it's rewards.
Just this morning, I was watching the squirrels running around the trees as it was trying
to snow. There is a small and narrow window frame out back, setting on a block, so it
resembled a teeter-totter.
One squirrel had jumped on the front end of the frame, and then squirrel number two, runs
and jumps, sending squirrel number one about four feet into the air. Good thing for
squirrel number one, that there was a huge pine tree nearby. (lol) It was like watching
a hilarious episode of Funniest Home Videos, the squirrel edition.
The Gift of Spirit
Remember the least of society by a random charitable act. Remember the man or woman
ringing that bell. Yes it is an annoying bell, but that Salvation Army rep may be
homeless or getting minimum wage; maybe buy them a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
Consider donating food or clothing to your local shelters or food banks.
Remember the hurricane Sandy survivors and our military, a small donation or just a
Christmas Card may seem like so little, but could mean so much to someone in need. By the
way, did you know that charitable acts or random acts of kindness boost your endorphin's
and the endorphin's of those who witness the act, it is a simple win-win situation.
Limit shopping excursions, to one or two hours, and think about stopping for lunch, or an
early dinner, so you can have a break. When pain levels and fatigue are high, that is
when emotional shopping starts and spending goes off budget. Trust me, I've spent more
than I intended just due to exhaustion and pain. My friend Elsa Rose has her holiday
shopping done by October.
It's a good idea and reduces stress, seriously, a handicap spot at Walmart is hard to come
by. Just the thought of a busy mall makes me shudder, consider online shopping it's a
blessing for many of us.
Don't forget the mom and pop vendors in your city, you can support the local economy by
shopping locally. Heck yeah, think 'gift bags,' no you don't need to stay up till 3 a.m.
Christmas Eve, wrapping gifts, with your back and neck screaming from pain, in utter
exhaustion and leading to a headache. Yes, I have been there. Hello, my name is Jacy,
and I'm a control freak and perfectionist in recovery.
Don't forget to just take care of you! Self care, we can be so busy taking care of others
and preparations, that we forget about ourselves. It's alright, you are not being
selfish! Take a deep breath when needed, laugh as often as possible, and enjoy the
moment; as those moments and memories can often sustain us through the worst days of pain.
From my heart to yours, have a blessed holiday season.
Love always, always loved,