Fa la la la la ―I can’t believe the holidays are here again and another year has come and gone. Fall and winter are my favorite seasons, not only because of the cool crisp air, snowfall, holiday decorations and hot chocolate, but also because we can connect with friends and family members in a special way.
And while I get excited about seeing loved ones and hosting events, there is a fear that immediately starts building inside me. It’s a fear of missing out, getting sick, and not being able to reach expectations put on me by family members.
This anxiety stems from years past, when I missed the holiday because of a flare, being in the hospital, or was just too exhausted to peel myself from my own bed. The worry increases when holiday travel is involved, something I am faced with this Christmas.
So, at the moment, I am trying to take things literally one day at a time and prepare as best as I can. If you already find yourself in the midst of holiday craziness or have travel on your to-do list like I do, perhaps these three tips I’ve found to be helpful over the years can assist you, too:
- Realistically schedule your calendar. Once Thanksgiving rolls around, I know the days are going to move at warp speed right up until New Year’s. This is when I literally pull out my old-school enormous desk calendar to see the entire month laid out before me. Next, I start penciling in important invites, dinners, events, etc. But here comes the work: I then move on to removing some, and often it involves removing things I truly want to do. But time and experience have taught me that a special event one night, and cooking all day for the holiday the next, on top of a week filled with doctor’s appointments and work, mean disaster is likely to strike. And that disaster is usually me waking up in a flare and having to cancel a long list of to-dos.
Today, I will purposely schedule in “me time” between special events and holidays ― literally a full day blocked off several times per week to play catch up and recuperate. Though this means I will miss out on a few things, I am encouraged, knowing that the events and celebrations I do attend, I will do so with more energy and the mindset to be present (rather than focusing on exhaustion or pain).
- Take travel preparations to the next level. Travel can take a lot out of people who aren’t chronically ill, so I don’t need to sit here and tell you how they can exhaust someone with lupus (I am sure you are aware!). But in life, there are times when travel is necessary. For me, it is this holiday, as I venture to not only see friends and family, but also build unforgettable memories with an ill parent.
To make this a less-anxiety-ridden experience, I will do numerous things: pack additional medication that I need; find routes to the nearest hospitals and urgent cares near the places I am staying and print them out (you will not be in the mindset to do this if you get sick while you are away); and create a personal medical history/medication list and print it out (plus tell others where to find it, should something happen).
Additionally, because I have many diet restrictions, I will shop beforehand and pack my own food (if we are driving), or even take it a step further and have special dietary items shipped to the location I am heading. I know if my body is not fueled properly, it is hard for me to enjoy what’s happening around me. Which leads me to my last tip …
- Fuel your body through good food. It’s easy to overindulge during the holidays on super-sweet treats and rich food ― trust me, I like cookies and cake as much as the next person. But too much sugar and foods we do not typically eat can have repercussions, such as making us feel groggy or experience a sugar crash in the middle of a holiday function. Fuel your way through the holidays with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, nutrient-packed smoothies, whole grains, beneficial fats such as coconut or MCT oil, and bone-warming, nourishing soups, stews and bone broths.
Most importantly, remember the reason for the season. However you spend it, whether it is attending church services and focusing on God during this time, meditating, cultivating your spiritual side in some other form, or just spending uninterrupted time with the people you love, be grateful for another year together.
Wishing you a happy holiday season!
Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.