Being Festive With Fibro & Chronic Illness : Coping With The Christmas Season

With less than two weeks to go until Christmas, it’s easy enough for anyone to get stressed out, overwhelmed, fed up and exhausted by it all, let alone when you’re dealing with chronic / invisible illness at the same time. Throw in any personal issues to contend with in terms of family, friends, bereavement, work, eating disorders or finances and it’s harder still to keep your head above water. Don’t let expectations and pressures ruin the festive season. Here are a few ways to help you cope and make the most of Christmas this year.

Get organised 

Lists and post-its are your friends. Make notes, sort out what you need to do, jot down ideas, cards to write, treats and groceries to buy etc. Break things down into more manageable chunks and smaller tasks. 

Sort out your living space and declutter, setting aside some extra space for any Christmas supplies. Having a little more space and clarity, mentally and physically, can help reduce stress and anxiety, which is all the more important to do when things can easily get on top of you over the Christmas period.

Still need some last minute Christmas gifting ideas? Check out a few suggestions here. 

Prioritise

Tackle the off-putting things and the immediately urgent things first to get them out of the way if you can. You can’t always get everything done, and that’s okay. Other stuff can wait. Pace yourself and what you have to do, and make sure self-care gets a top spot on your priorities list. 

Delegate some tasks

If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, are there any things that you could ask for a little help with? Don’t take on a mountain of tasks yourself if you don’t have to.

Practice the power of No

If you don’t want to do something or don’t feel up to it, be assertive and politely decline. If you’ve planned to do something, only to find when the time comes you’re not well enough, say ‘no’ to it, accept that best laid plans often go to pot when dealing with chronic illness, and move on. If you’re feeling pressured by social events or family expectations, calmly explain you’re not up to it; you don’t owe explanations beyond what you wish to give, and you have every right to say no to things.

Simplify

Try to keep things simple, which is a good motto when it comes to both limited ‘spoons’ or limited finances. It’s also worth remembering that it’s the thought that counts, rather than the expense of a gift or number of gifts. Buy food you know will be eaten but don’t overdo quantities if they may be wasted. Online shopping can be a great help for gifts and groceries to keep the amount of driving or trudging around shops to a necessary minimum.

Reach out

Don’t suffer in silence. Talk things over. Vent. Ask for help. Tell someone how you feel. Christmas can be difficult, especially when chronic illness comes into the mix. If you’re also dealing with grief, loneliness, eating disorders, depression or anxiety it has the potential to become overwhelming. Reach out, whether that’s to online support or offline friends and family, or a professional, such as Samaritans or Beat in the UK. 

Nourish your body 

It’s a time of goodwill and giving, and yet going things for others can leave many people neglecting themselves. Self-care is neither selfish nor self-indulgent, it’s a vital necessity. Get enough rest, do things you enjoy, find time to relax, try to eat well, keep on top of taking any meds. Remember to breathe. 

Review your medications

With holidays over Christmas and New Year, it’s a good idea to check what meds you have and what you may need to make sure you’re covered throughout this period. Order them now to make sure there are no last minute hiccups and panic. 

Put it into perspective

Christmas itself is only one day. The events surrounding it may last a week or a little longer, but that’s still a lot less than the rest of your life. It’ll be over in the blink of an eye. See the little stresses for what they are: insignificant in the grand scheme of things. 

Readjust expectations

Redefine Christmas in line with what’s important to you, not what society claims is important (looking good, having an abundance of food, cooking the perfect turkey, buying the best presents, and generally having an ‘Instagrammable Christmas’). What’s important to you? It’s also a time to readjust what you can do and set more realistic, reasonable goals and expectations that fit with your body and your health, and what you can physically, mentally and emotionally manage. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. 

Let go of the Grinch

This is one I need to work on. Christmas should be fun, or at the very least not quite the stressful ball of horror that it can become. For me, I get stressed with things at home, the niggles with family, pervasive issues with food and weight that still gnaw my brain, financial worries, anxiety that I can’t quite put a lid on about every tiny thing. And of course there’s looking at what others are doing and the Christmas I ‘should’ be having. 

When you look at your own situation and negatively compare to friends or what you see in the films or on social media, it’s an open invitation to the Grinch to take over your brain.

Let go of it all, focus on what you have, and appreciate the small, simple things.

Have a little fun

Fun. That’s part of what Christmas is all about, right? We knew that as children, but many of us lose it along the way and it’s not surprising. Do something you enjoy and surround yourself in little festivities to get you more in the Christmas spirit. Look at Christmas light displays, try some Christmas crafts, browse Pinterest, get a Christmassy desktop wallpaper, sing along like a maniac to cheesy Christmas music, whatever it takes to inject a little lightness and some festive vibes into your bloodstream.

Generate a grateful gracefulness

What are you thankful for? What big or small or tiny things are you grateful for this year, this week, right this moment? Who do you love, who are you glad to have in your life in some way? Are you safe, warm, and fed? Let these things warm your heart. 

★  ★  ★

Christmas is a different experience for everyone. Some love it with a sense of happy abandon and glee. Others hate it and see it as commercial nonsense. Others still will feel pain; physical pain, pain of loss, worry for the future, stress, loneliness. Forget what others are doing, forget how Christmas ‘should’ look and what you ‘should’ be doing, the crazy fun you ‘should’ be having. Live life your way and write your own story this Christmas. 

Caz  ♥

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40 Comments

    • December 16, 2018 / 5:57 pm

      Right back at you, Cat!  ♥ Have a lovely week ahead =]
      xx

      • December 22, 2018 / 11:37 am

        For some reason I can’t share your post on my WP or can’t add a comment. And it doesn’t seem to recognise that I already follow you.

  1. December 13, 2018 / 5:24 pm

    This is not only and excellent guide for you, but it can be applied to everyone. Less stress.

    Have a fabulous day. ♥

    • December 16, 2018 / 5:56 pm

      I need to re-read it myself I think and start taking some of my own advice! Glad you liked the post, and thanks for the comment. Have a lovely week ahead 🙂
      xx

  2. December 13, 2018 / 5:26 pm

    Some really important points there. It’s so easy to get carried away and end up exhausted this time of year because we try to cram too much in. You’re right – the main thing is about having some fun, and exactly how that looks is different for everyone. Thanks for the reminder XX

    • December 16, 2018 / 5:56 pm

      Exactly, Christmas and what it means and what fun entails all look differently to everyone, and it’s so easy to get caught up in stresses that we forget to have a little fun! I hope you manage to squeeze in enough giggles & smiles & reasons to be grateful and happy this Christmas, and thank you for the fab comment! 🙂
      xx

    • December 16, 2018 / 5:54 pm

      Glad you liked it! Hope you’re having a good weekend and that the week ahead is kind to you 🙂
      xx

  3. December 13, 2018 / 10:16 pm

    This is a brilliant post Caz! You provide some great tips for making Christmas less stressful and more meaningful. I love what you said about deciding what’s important to us, not what society says is important. It’s so easy to get caught up in doing all the things we think we’re “supposed” to be doing rather than doing those things that are important to us. Sharing this on my FB page and Pinterest!

    • December 16, 2018 / 5:54 pm

      I think it’s such an important thing, this whole ‘what we feel we should be doing’, and it can take something like chronic illness to put a spanner in the works of our lives to re-evaluate it all. I’m so glad you liked the post! Thank you so much too for the lovely comment & for sharing – I hope you’re keeping well and having a lovely weekend =]
      xx

  4. December 13, 2018 / 10:29 pm

    Fantastic post Caz. Sharing everwhere. I hope you have a very happy and peaceful Christmas. Lots of love Sam xx

    • December 14, 2018 / 5:52 pm

      Thank you very much Sam, and I’m glad you liked it! I hope you’re doing okay and that you have a lovely weekend ahead with plenty of rest involved! =]
      xx

  5. December 14, 2018 / 2:44 am

    All wonderful points especially love delegation and the power of no , and here’s wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a great year ahead!

    • December 14, 2018 / 5:44 pm

      I’m glad you liked the post, Nisha! I hope you’re doing okay and I wish you a lovely weekend in the run-up to Christmas! xx

  6. December 14, 2018 / 8:49 pm

    Organizing and planning ahead help me a lot. It’s important to have some stressfree time in which you can just enjoy the holiday.

    • December 14, 2018 / 11:13 pm

      You’re right, there needs to be time and space for enjoyment, so organising and planning and knowing what’s what can help keep things on track. Thanks for the comment, Viola – have a lovely weekend 🙂
      xx

  7. December 14, 2018 / 11:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing this fabulous list!!!

    • December 16, 2018 / 5:45 pm

      You’re welcome, thank you for taking the time to read & comment! Have a lovely week 🙂

  8. December 15, 2018 / 2:45 am

    Practicing the power of No is so effective for me, I love saying it now! Seriously, it’s the best way for me to set boundaries with people.

    • December 16, 2018 / 5:45 pm

      I’m glad you’ve found it empowering, and it’s great for boundaries. Do you ever feel guilty for saying no? I hope not, though it can be easier said than done to get to the point of not feeling guilty. Thanks for sharing! =]

  9. December 15, 2018 / 11:18 am

    I say no quite frequently anymore. I wish I could get rid of that nagging guilt every time I say it though.

    • December 16, 2018 / 5:44 pm

      Saying no is the first part, feeling okay about it can be harder. But you don’t owe reasons or explanations, & you probably know deep down there’s no reason to feel guilty. You wouldn’t want someone else in your position having to say no to feel guilty, and you certainly shouldn’t feel that way either.xx

  10. December 16, 2018 / 12:39 am

    Excellent words, Caz. Thank you

    • December 16, 2018 / 5:42 pm

      Thanks, Trev – glad you liked the post! Hope you’re having a good weekend =]

  11. December 16, 2018 / 5:46 pm

    Saying no is so important to not be overwhelemed. And yes- lists on lists! That’s why I love bullet journaling too it helps my anxiety a lot.

    Gratitude can put so much into perspective 🙂

    • December 17, 2018 / 4:28 pm

      I love your bullet journals, I saw you included them in your latest post! Thanks so much for the lovely comment, especially as you’re so incredibly busy yourself! I hope you have a good week ahead, keep the anxiety down & enjoy as much of it as you can 🙂
      xx

  12. December 16, 2018 / 11:08 pm

    Wonderful ideas and tips, Caz; for everybody! 🙂
    I particularly loved your sense of humour that filters throughout.. 🙂
    Still smiling… Have a great, and calm, build-up to Chrissy!
    xoxoxo

    • December 17, 2018 / 4:25 pm

      I think a sense of humour is a must have, we can never let go of a little of that! Thank you lovely, I hope you have a peaceful, joyful week before Christmas too 🙂
      xx

  13. December 17, 2018 / 6:25 pm

    Some great advice here.
    Christmas can easily become overwhelming and a major source of stress and worry but it doesn’t need to be. Christmas can be fun and enjoyable with very little effort and if the kids don’t get that Ferrari steering wheel for their xbox I’m sure they’ll get over it!

    • December 17, 2018 / 10:21 pm

      Exactly right, it sometimes just takes a little (or big) shift of perspective and letting go of expectations to re-write how you want your Christmas to look. It’s a shame to let it get too much and become just a source of stress, because it’ll be over before we know it without enjoying any of it, while our health suffers, too. Thanks for the comment, Karen! 🙂 xx

  14. December 17, 2018 / 8:57 pm

    well said, Caz – sometimes happiness comes easy — other times it must be actively persued…

    • December 17, 2018 / 10:19 pm

      Yep, and ‘every little helps’ 🙂
      Thanks for the comment, I hope you have a lovely week xx

  15. December 18, 2018 / 8:16 am

    I really appreciate this post <3 The power of no is so important, you are so right. I hope you are well and having a good holiday break xx sending lots of love

    findyourownhope.blogspot.com

  16. December 18, 2018 / 5:43 pm

    “Let Go of the Grinch” ~ says it perfectly! Embrace the spirit… even if I don’t want to listen to Xmas songs every time I turn on the radio 😉

  17. December 23, 2018 / 11:11 pm

    Good, wise and interesting advice

  18. December 24, 2018 / 10:41 pm

    Brilliant post Caz! Sending you LOTS of love and wishes for a lovely holiday!

    • January 14, 2019 / 11:33 pm

      Thank you, I’m really pleased you liked the post! Thanks for the comment, Gabi – have a lovely week ahead 🙂

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