The holiday season can be difficult for the able-bodied, let alone for those of us with a long-term condition. Stress. Fatigue. People. Indulgent food. Long days. They are all factors that can exacerbate our symptoms and make us feel horrific. So, how can we help ourselves to get through this time of the year and actually enjoy it too?
I’ve collated a list of tips to keep in mind throughout the festive season. To hopefully help you to conserve energy, to keep stress to a minimum and to maintain a routine, so you can enjoy the festive period as much as you can.
Batch Cook using the slow cooker
Who wants to be standing over a hob everyday over this already stressful time of the year? Pre-prepare foods that can be stored in the freezer. All you have to do is bung it in the microwave to heat it up. This slow cooker has automatic programme settings. So you can set a shut off time safe in the knowledge that you can get on with what you need to do. Whilst not burning those delicious meals.
Set a hard ending time for get togethers
Holiday festivities tend to be open-ended, but they don’t have to be. Set a time for the activity or event to finish and stick to it. Don’t plan for the event to finish at the absolute limit of your energy usage. You don’t want to be completely crashing as soon as it finishes. Set the ending for a bit before, so you’re not a human zombie at the end.
Plan a recovery day into your holiday schedule
If the holiday season isn’t a time to spend curled up in a blanket on the sofa, eating rubbish food and watching films, then I don’t know what is. It’ll be a day for you to let your body and mind recover from the stress of the season, but it’ll feel absolutely ok, it’ll be the ‘norm’ and everyone will be doing it.
Keep to your regular sleep routine
Getting a good night’s sleep is a top priority for those with a chronic condition. And it shouldn’t be any different during the holiday season. You don’t need to attend every function going, especially if it’s going to mess with your sleep routine. Make sure you’re going to bed and waking up at the time that you would usually do. Your body won’t appreciate if it you don’t.
Try not to over-indulge
For many with a chronic illness, the rich, processed, and indulgent food of the holiday season can negatively affect our condition. Be aware of the foods to avoid, and make sure that there’s plenty of ‘good’ foods on hand . After all, those with a chronic condition shouldn’t not enjoy the festive spread.
Come up with a code word
Have a code word between your partner, parents or anyone that will be supporting you over this time. So, that if at any point you to take a break, go home, or send your guests home, they’ll know it’s time. It saves for uncomfortable conversations if you’re hesitant to talk about your condition/disability.
Use disposable as much as you can
From cutlery, to serving dishes, and even ovenware, there’s disposable everything nowadays. It was invented for a reason – to limit the need to wash and clean up. Take advantage of it, instead of using all your energy standing to wash/clean up. Use biodegradable disposable kitchenware where you can and put that extra energy to better use (whilst being kinder to the planet!). This compostable biodegradable utensil set is a great option!
Tackling the washing up and cleaning
If there are bits to wash up after that festive meal, then make a deal with your family/friends. Whoever cooks doesn’t wash up or clean. If it is your turn to wash up, then here are a few tips to make it let stressful and gentler on your body. Leave things to soak – have a rest after dinner! The washing up will still be there in a couple of hours’ time, but soaking means that no scrubbing will be needed! Run the dishwasher twice. They say to rinse items, but running it twice means the kitchenware will still be nice and clean and you won’t have used energy standing over the sink.
Be assertive and say no when you need to
If you don’t want to do something or don’t feel up to it, then don’t. Don’t do something at the expense of your own health and well-being just to please other people. You have every right to say no. Those around you, those within your support network and those that know you, will understand and appreciate you saying no; to help you.
You don’t want to be running out of all-important medication mid-way through the holidays when nothing is open. Speak to your doctor about them authorising prescriptions and you picking up medications a little early.
Whether you’re travelling to stay with friend’s/family or making plans for a special day. Travelling away from home over the festive season can cause undue stress for many people. Pre-planning for time away is key to reducing the stress associated with travelling. Make a list of all the essential items, medications, and equipment pieces that you might need to bring. Chip away at the list, packing a bag and filling the car ahead of time. Meaning that all you need to do on the travel day, is travel.
The most important tip of all, ENJOY!
Whether you celebrate the holidays or not, enjoy this time of the year. Put your feet up and relax. Spend time with loved ones. Watch films whilst curled up on the sofa with a hot drink. Do what makes you happy and brings you joy.
Hopefully, this list of tips has been useful. I hope it has helped you to see that with some planning, prioritising and preparation, the holiday season doesn’t have to be stressful, fatigue inducing and painful. The holiday period can be restful, enjoyable, and joyful, even with a chronic condition.
Want to learn more about planning and prioritising? Why not have a look at the Pacing Masterclass and book in for a session.
Wishing you all a happy festive season!
Remember; “all holidays can be good times.” -John Clayton.