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Chronic Illness Self-Care: Holidays Edition

It’s that time of the year! Whether you celebrate a religious holiday, or enjoy the secular spirit, the end of December going into the new year is a time for family, friends, and all your loved ones. It’s a time for charity, a time for peace and reflection. But it can also be a stressful time, particularly for spoonies. So, here are my tips for making sure this spoonie holiday season is merry and bright!

 

Bundle Up!

 

Ron SwansonWhen it gets cold outside, all my joints protest big time. Even indoors, they seem to know it isn’t 70 degrees outside and demand a change. Because of this, I always make sure to keep my heating pad close-by at home, and I have a few single use patches for extended periods out in the cold. I also dress in layers. My internal temperature fluctuates all the time, so when those crazy hot flashes hit, I can just take off my sweater, and when I get cold again 15 minutes later, I can bundle back up.

 

Support Systems for the Win!

Maxine on Christmas

I’m lucky that my family is understanding of my illnesses, but I know that isn’t the case for everyone. If you know you’ll be spending time with some less than empathetic family members, who say things like, “You’re still sick?” or, “You just need to get into shape!”, prepare in advance. Reach out to members of your support system, like your friends or therapist, and let them know you’ll need some extra love. Keep a small journal with you so you can sneak away and vent those emotions. And most important, remember that they are the ones with the problem, not you. Taking care of yourself is most important, and what they say, or think, doesn’t matter. And if all else fails, make up some sort of ‘important work email’ or ‘online class assignment’ you ‘forgot about until now’ and excuse yourself. Because dammit, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

 

Party Hard? Yeah, it is.

 

You're invitedI love me a good Christmas Party. I love the music and food and friends and fun. But my body isn’t necessarily a fan. So, if you’re like me and love to plan holiday parties, but don’t really have the spoons to follow through, try a potluck! Invite friends over for a holiday potluck at your place. This way you’re still close to any emergency meds or pain-reducers, don’t have to go out in the cold, and don’t have to worry about preparing a feast! I like to be in charge of drinks, that way I can make sure there are some nonalcoholic drinks available. (I’m not a fun drunk. Drunk Alex just takes naps, so best to avoid that situation.) Alcohol can interfere with a lot of common chronic illness medications, so I like to make a fancy, nonalcoholic punch and serve that as the main drink. I mix cranberry-pomegranate juice and ginger-ale in a punch bowl, then add some fresh pomegranate seeds and serve over ice. Yum.

 

Don’t be Afriad to Take it Easy

 

Relaxed christmasI mention it all the time: we live in a hustle and bustle world. Especially at this time of

year, it’s easy to feel like you’re not doing ‘enough’. Not spending enough time with loved ones, not giving the best presents, not being jolly enough. But here’s the thing: Doing what you can is all you can do. Don’t become a martyr for the sake of capitalistic gift giving. A handwritten note is more heartfelt anyway. Allow yourself time off. Allow yourself time to rest and just watch cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies and drink hot coco. Allow yourself space apart if you become overwhelmed. Feed your soul with what you need. Because the holidays are about joy and happiness, and if you’re constantly catering to others’ needs, you’ll be too busy to take care of yourself.

 

This holiday season, my wish is for us spoonies to take care of ourselves, and spend time feeding our souls. Rest up, take care, and be merry! You deserve it!

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