Chronic Illness and Christmas

Christmas should be a time for joy, happiness and wellbeing………

But let’s face it……Christmas can be stressful, and when I say stressful, I mean stressful for everyone.


People living with chronic illness will find this no different.


For the person without a chronic illness,, Grief, Pain, Loneliness, Exhaustion aren’t on the Christmas present list, but for someone who has a chronic illness they probably are.


Here is a few tips that you may find helpful to alleviate the strain


  • Get organized.

Make a list of everything that needs to be done and all the people that need to be brought for–

Gifts, Cards, Vouchers, Food, Decorations, Booking Taxi’s, Hotels and restaurants, etc., etc.

Don’t feel stressed that there is so much to be done. Once you have written your lists, you can prioritize what needs to be done first, delegate tasks to others and schedule things to certain days. Making lists is an important step for anyone trying to organize, but especially for those of us who struggle with the dreaded brain fog.


  • Plan early

I start planning my Christmas in September, and I know people that do it earlier than that.

Be realistic and set a budget. Work out how much you are going to spend on each person – and stick to it. Manage expectations as to what you or Santa can give, (this includes your energy) and if you can’t buy it (or give it) then understand and accept it. Make a list of everything that needs to be done, then priorities everything on that list – Be strict with yourself, not everything on the list “Needs” to be done – Learn to economies.


  • Simplify everything.

Christmas is also a time to simplify things.

Do you need to be that extravagant?

Are you fussing over the Christmas decorations? Does it matter that the baubles are the same as last year? Does it really matter?

Gift bags are much easier that wrapping paper, and will anyone notice?

Have a think about what is important and prioritize that task.


  • Break tradition.

Traditions can be energy taxing, do they really need to be done? I might sound like a humbug, but sometimes a break from tradition will give us the breathing space that’s needed, even if it is just for this year alone, we can always go back to it next year.

This year I am paying the extra pound coin and going out for Christmas dinner, yes, I will be paying more, but it’s a nice break from the tradition and will save the washing up.



  • Ask for help.

Christmas should be for everyone’s enjoyment, and therefore should be everyone’s responsibility.

Don’t shoulder the responsibility alone. I feel there is something special when everyone “Chips in” and helps over the Christmas period.

If you have people coming over for dinner, ask them to prepare an item of food to bring with them, that way you won’t have as much to cook.

I believe that’s when family traditions mean the most – “when everyone bring a dish”


  • Do your shopping online.

Save the energy,

Save the drama,

Save your pennies.

You may be someone who loves the Christmas shopping period, and loves walking around the shops, but buying online can also mean that you can always spend a few hours sitting in a coffee shops soaking up the Christmas spirit hassle free.


  • Rest.

A full days of rest, or a quick cup of tea – you decide what’s needed and what is best for you. No one wants to see you exhausted.

Try and pace yourself, you have plenty of time after all. Take breaks in between tasks, maybe get out of the house if you can, have a nap – anything to take your mind off the matter in hand. Remember to also try to preempt events and factor in time to rest beforehand, when you have something coming up. Whether it be shopping or visiting family, it can take up a lot of that much needed energy.


  • Let go of the blame.

I have no doubt that you will do your best, and that is good enough.

Blaming others, and blaming yourself brings nothing beneficial to the table and will ruin the mood.

Blame will only cause problems, try to look beyond blame and reach a peace of empathy and understanding.


  • Address envy.

Yes, others may have more energy, more money and be feeling less pain that yourself - your feelings towards this are valid – to you.

By addressing that these feelings and thoughts, that they are relevant to you allows you to own them yourself by increasing your self-care, asking for help and taking time out and helps reduce the resentment that you may feel towards others.



  • Accept your limitations

Everyone has limitations, these may come in the way of being physical, emotional, financial, relationship to name but a few. The key is to accept your limitations, then find a work around.

If you physically can’t be with someone on Christmas day, accepting that is the case, then working a way round it, this may be face timing or WhatsApp video calling each other and listing and singing to a favorite song together.


  • Let go of expectations

Christmas means so many things to so many different people, letting go of our expectations leaves us free to experience Christmas in the “hear and now” and helps us to reduce disappointment.


  • Find your “Tribe”

You may feel that others around you don’t understand your predicament so it is useful to take some time out to go on social media and post on a group that identifies with the condition that you have. No one wants to feel isolated and lonely at any time of the year, Christmas included pre emptying this by finding your tribe and introducing yourself beforehand.


  • Most importantly,

Try to enjoy the holiday or atleast a day or two.

Try not let your situation spoil this lovely time of year and precious memories with loved ones.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Jay

For support over the Christmas period please call the Samaritans on 116 123, they are available 24/7 and 365 days of the year.

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