When you’re new to the chronic illness game, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. If you’re not blessed with a supportive family or spouse, our struggles can be increased dramatically. We feel haunted by the seemingly fearless, boundlessly energetic former self, and want to project that image in the present.
You have heard of less is more? This is now the approach you need to have to your life. You can have just as satisfying holiday season by learning to:
- Simplify your holiday meal–Realize that if you are the head of party planning, it is time to simplify your plans. Mix it up if you can, and consider going out to a restaurant. And if you cannot, make sure that the majority of the work is done by everyone on the guest list. Don’t want random items? Then give your guests simple recipes for what needs to be brought. Especially if some guests have food allergies or issues. Putting all of the stress on yourself alone is not being thankful for who you are and where you are.
- Be Blunt–Pharmaceutical advertising has helped promote some unhealthy ideas about what living with chronic illness is really like. Even those closest to us may not realize the seriousness and severity of our illness unless we tell them. It may take bluntness. Repeated bluntness. When we see ads now for cancer treatment no one accuses them of faking or exaggerating their illnesses. Many chronic illnesses are just as life-threatening. It’s not just hindering our golf game, or slowing our run time. Showering is our new marathon. Cooking dinner our new tennis match. There is no shame in owning this.
- Skip Black Friday–For those of us with chronic conditions, online shopping should be our wheelhouse. Many online retailers want your money whichever way. There are few things worse than overextending yourself over the holidays. And many will extend sales to Cyber Monday, which encourages shopping online anyway. Save your strength. There are loads of websites great and small hungering for your business.
- Make a to-do list, and expect to do one-third of it–What is the most critical third? Overextending is a constant struggle. It won’t do you any good to complete the entirety of your to-do list in one day if you end up spending the next two weeks in bed or in the hospital because of it.
- Find soothing, healthy rituals.–Is your thing prayer? Is it meditation? Is it listening to an audiobook? Is it playing your favorite videogame? Whatever helps you unwind and de-stress. Keep these things in your schedule. These are part of that critical third of your to-do list.Stress feeds the fire of chronic illness. Holidays are known for putting undue pressure on ourselves and others. It is about family and celebration. But it’s also about doing so in a way that doesn’t burn your candle to a nub.