The holiday season can be very stressful, and stress uses up spoons like crazy! For the first time in all 9 years of having a chronic illness, this year I think I have figured out how to balance holiday activities and hospital trips. I am going to share my tips with you in hope that you can have a spoonie friendly holiday.
Holiday Hack #1: Ask for what you need in advance.
Asking for help in general can be hard to do but by reaching out to others it can help take the stress off of you this season. One way you can ask for help is by making holiday plans in advance with your family and friends. By doing this you can control how much you do in one day/week. After lots of trial and error I have found that I can tolerate one holiday outing a week. This year for example the first week of Christmas we went to the nutcracker, the second week we went to a light festival at our local botanical garden, this week Jared’s siblings are coming over, and next week we are going to go out with my family.
Now we are spending a little less than a week with my family so we are finding other relaxing and low-key holiday themed activities for those days, such as making gingerbread houses, having a movie marathon, playing jackbox together, etc.
Holiday Hack #2: Make time for self care
Self care can be done in various forms, one of my daily self care activities is participating in my write the word devotionals. I also work hard to make an effort to pray for others daily (that is more of a spiritual self care.) Others ways that I practice self care weekly is by painting my nails (especially Christmas themed ones), by doing a face mask, by journaling, by tending to my plants, by catching an episode of my latest Netflix obsession (which is currently scandal) or by hosting a friend! If you make time for self care you will find it is easier to care for others
(The photo on the right is one of my write the word journal entries!)
Holiday Hack #3: Prioritize your time in advance so you can pace yourself
Christmas presents. For some, just talking about Christmas presents brings on anxiety, I used to feel the same way. There was always pressure on finding the right gift and spending just enough and everything else that comes with getting others gifts. After years of frustration we tried something new- a gift plan. In order to help us budget my spoons and our finances we did everything over four months. September was my family, October was Jared’s family, November was friends, and we saved December for each other!
Another way we prioritized was in our Christmas Card plans. The number one priority for me this year was our Christmas cards. I wasn’t a kid that dreamed about their wedding, I dreamed about sending out Christmas cards to friends and family once I was married. I knew exactly what I wanted to do- have our little family (Jared, Foxy, and I) dressed in Christmas pajamas in front of our first tree. Once I knew what I wanted I made a plan:
1. Find affordable Christmas Pajamas
2. Pick a date to take the photos
3. Call my bestie Maura and ask her to take the photos for us
4. Pick out a tree
5. Decorate the tree
6. The photoshoot
7. Make a list of friends and family and double check addresses
8. Send them out!
This list is how I accomplished getting our Christmas cards done- one step at a time. This was a 3 month process, by not saving it for the last minute I was not stressed or over extending myself.
Holiday Hack #4: Don’t keep it all in your head- write it down!
Make a list!! Seriously this one has saved me so many times this holiday season. Outside of my Powersheet tending list, I also make gift lists, Christmas plans list, and made sure errands were all written down. Without writing everything down I would have lost the ability to keep up with my body and the holiday. With brain fog attacks, I need everything written down. This time of year if you looked at my texts with my husband they are full of reminders, lists, and errands we need to run.
Holiday Hack #5: Don’t ignore your illness
The holiday season can bring out loss and makes us notice all the things we “can’t” do. It makes us want to silence our illnesses, make others comfortable by neglecting our illnesses, and ultimately try to forget that they exist. We cannot do that though, sadly that’s not how chronic illnesses work. They don’t care about holidays or important plans- that is why we need to be diligent and go to our appointments, do all of our at home treatments, and even use your handicap placard when you need it. I point out the handicap placard because for those that aren’t in a wheelchair and have invisible illnesses, we are at risk for being told we are faking it. Before I was in a wheelchair full time I heard this too. It was not helpful. It hurt and made me feel ashamed. Know that you are not alone, and this is your holiday too and you need to use your spoons wisely. I had three ED trips this December and countless appointments, and as much as I would have loved staying home and watching Christmas movies- I went. Taking care of my body is a full time job with no breaks, and the same goes for you.. well if you have a chronic illness that is.
Holiday Hack #6: Keep it simple
I don’t know about you, but wrapping gifts stresses me out. My inner perfectionist comes out, and wrapping hurts my shoulders and wrists. This year one of the ways I opted to keep it simple is by putting all gifts in bags with tissue paper.
Another way I kept it simple was not going overboard with decorating. I also had my younger sister and law come over and help me decorate! Jared and his younger siblings also helped us decorate the tree when I couldn’t because of my dislocated shoulder.
Holiday Hack #7: Remember what these holidays are all about
In the hustle and bustle of the holiday we tend to forget what matters. God sent his Son down to earth for us- that is the greatest gift of all! This time is also supposed to be spent with the people we love! You can celebrate Christmas anywhere, even if you are in the hospital, and keep in mind that Christmas is wherever your family is.
Merry Christmas Everyone!