The holidays are so busy and crazy, and when you add Fibromyalgia to the mix it is just too much. The bright blinking lights, the noise, the crowds… And those posts going around on Facebook that tell you how many days are left until Christmas don’t help! That just brings on the anxiety. Well don’t listen to that at all and don’t panic. It will all get done. Believe me, I know it is a lot because I go from Thanksgiving, to my daughter’s birthday, to Christmas. I just tackle one thing at a time, keep lists, and stay organized. And anything I can get done ahead of time, I jump on it and just get it done. I am one of those people sending out their Christmas cards right after Thanksgiving. 😉 Don’t stress and just try to enjoy the holidays.
Tips on Surviving the Holidays with a Chronic Illness:
1. If you are hosting a party, ask everyone to bring something. That really cuts back on the amount of food you have to make.
2. Communicate. If you don’t feel good, say so. If you want to say ‘no’, do it. Your family/friends should understand and support you and if they don’t, it’s on them, not you. You have to do what you have to do for your health. And maybe tell them that you need to cancel for now but would like to do something at a time where you are feeling better. Ask for help if you need to! It’s OK.
3. Feeling depressed? Depression can hit hard during the holidays. It’s a battle with everything we do and we can’t win. We want to participate in everything but if we do, we pay for it. There are some natural remedies in this post: http://organicfibromommies.com/2014/08/battling-depression/. And make sure to follow tip #2 above.
4. Focus on the happy fun times throughout the holidays and not all the work and stress. You don’t have to do everything that comes along. Pick and choose certain things and save others for next year.
5. Make a plan. You can plan out everything you want to do and how you will do it. A plan-of-action. For example, if you are going to someone’s house for a party, plan it out ahead of time. Bring anything you might need while you are there. You could talk to the host(s) ahead of time to let them know you might need a quiet place to go and rest for a bit. If you have a significant other or a friend with you then communicate with them and maybe you can have a signal to know that you aren’t feeling well and need to go sit in a quiet room or get yourself together in the bathroom for a minute, maybe splash some water on your face. Social gatherings can be exhausting. If you are hosting the party, make sure you have help. Your significant other or a friend can help clean and get things setup and be there during the party to help and give you an out if you aren’t feeling well. Maybe you can socialize when guests first arrive, go take a break, come back out and socialize some more. That way you are able to participate for the majority of the time.
6. Bring a dish to a party. Bring a side dish to the party that you know you can eat (healthy foods) so that you can eat some of that and a little of the other stuff. That should help so you aren’t feeling so icky after eating a bunch of foods you probably wouldn’t normally eat.
How to help someone with a chronic illness during the holidays: Be supportive. If they can’t attend something it’s not usually because they don’t want to. They probably want to really bad but their illness has taken over and it is best that they do what they need to for their health. The last thing they need is to feel guilty about it. Try to plan something with them another time, when they are feeling better. It doesn’t have to be during the holidays. And offer to help as much as you can, especially if they are the ones hosting a party. It may not be easy for them to ask for help but they may really need it and would appreciate the offer.
Here’s a list of our holiday items and how I coordinate them. I know all families have different traditions or religious beliefs. This is just to show you how I get through the holidays and still make sure my kids can participate in some of the fun holiday activities.
1. Family Photo/Christmas Cards – We always try to have someone take a nice picture of our family on Thanksgiving. We are already dressed up and there’s someone around to take the picture. Works perfectly! (Or you can use a photo you like from earlier in the year.) Then I put our Christmas cards together, usually using Walmart’s online photo program but there are other ones like Walgreens and many more. I ordered 28 Christmas cards for about $12. You can have them shipped to you too. I like to get this done right after Thanksgiving and start getting them sent out.(I also have to do my daughter’s birthday invitations at this time as well.)
2. Christmas Tree/Decorations and Christmas Music – We get our Christmas tree and start decorating after Thanksgiving. Well, we used to have a fake tree so we would just pull it out of the garage. But it’s nice just doing everything together when we are all in the spirit. And we listen to Christmas music while decorating. Item #1 & #2, done right after Thanksgiving! Now there’s plenty of time (and energy!) for many other things.
3. Christmas Lights – Your local newspaper may post different neighborhoods that have amazing lights to go drive around and see. This is a great F R E E way to do it! And not much gas to get there. Or, in our area there are places you can drive and pay to see lights (Spanaway Lights, Zoo Lights). We do this sometimes, not every year. But we always at least drive around and see lights in different neighborhoods. It’s also fun to watch the ones on YouTube with the lights flashing to music. 😀
4. Santa – visit, write, and/or call Santa. Now, of course you can go stand in the long lines at the mall to see Santa and pay an arm-an-a-leg for that picture, but we choose to just see Santa when we can. We saw him at the Christmas tree farm and got our free picture taken with our phone, and he came through our neighborhood on his sleigh collecting canned foods. The kids sat on his lap and we took another free picture. We have never gone to the mall. The thought of that gives me a lot of anxiety and I couldn’t imagine waiting forever and spending a ton of money on a picture. It’s already an expensive holiday! We did see him at Walmart one time and did pay to have a picture but it wasn’t very much. To call Santa, just dial (951) 262-3062.
5. Christmas Shopping/Wrapping – If you have kids this is definitely harder to do. You have to get a babysitter first, go get everything that you can during that timeframe, bring everything home and hide it or start wrapping. I do all my wrapping for other people’s presents when the kids are home. Just space it out if you can. And online shopping is so easy! You can avoid the crowds, wasting energy on the shopping trips, wasting gas driving around, having to get a babysitter, etc. And I do not do Black Friday shopping. No way…. lol. And I hate to sound like a salesman but if you want to use our link to do your shopping on Amazon it would really help us out! There’s no discount for you but it helps us offset the costs of blogging, and it’s so easy. You just click on the following link and start your shopping. We would really appreciate it! OrganicFibroMommies-Amazon-Link. We also have an Amazon store if you want to check out our items: http://astore.amazon.com/orgafibrmomm-20.
6. Stocking Stuffers – I start collecting stocking stuffers right away while I am shopping at different stores (Fred Meyer, our local food co-op, Trader Joe’s). I have found things like naturally flavored candy canes (no dyes), 100% pure maple syrup candies, chocolate coins, and holiday gummies. You can also put fruit in the stockings, homemade cookies (wrapped of course), and non-food items like stickers/tattoos, little toys, play-doh, Christmas-themed toys/pencils/stickers, etc., mini activity book/notepad, crayons/colored pencils, mini books, money, small stuffed animals, new socks, a rolled up new shirt, a jump rope, jewelry, matchbox cars, and so much more.
7. Baking Cookies – Maybe just plan to make 1 batch of cookies. Why do we have to make several batches of all these different kinds? Let the kids pick what kind they want to make each year, to make it extra special. Or you can make a batch in the beginning of the month and another before Christmas, space it out.
8. Gingerbread House – I found this natural Gingerbread House at Trader Joe’s last year for like $8! Yes it has sugar but they use fruit/vegetable extracts for the coloring. I know the kids aren’t going to be eating the whole thing but it’s pretty cheap and makes me feel good about not buying the bad stuff. Whether or not we are eating it, we don’t want to support purchasing it either. (That’s just my opinion.) 😉
9. Christmas Movies – I keep a list of Christmas movies that we want to watch each year and find them on Netflix, On Demand, Amazon Prime Instant Video, regular cable (ABC Family has 25 days of Christmas!), or we own some of them. It’s just fun to cuddle up with a bowl of popcorn, maybe some hot cocoa, and watch the classics.
10. Advent Calendar/Elf-on-the-shelf – We still don’t have an advent calendar because they are expensive but I have been watching for one that is reasonably priced. In the meantime, we just make a calendar on a piece of paper and check off the days. My daughter’s birthday is in December too so this helps them know when things are happening (and not bug mom & dad so much – well, mostly mom). 😉 And we don’t have an Elf on the shelf but after seeing the pictures I am tempted to get one! If there’s a good deal I might just do it. I bet dad would get in on the fun too and then I wouldn’t have to remember to do it everyday, haha.
11. The Nutcracker – This year my daughter and I are going to see the Nutcracker! It’s her first time and I haven’t been since I was a kid. We can’t wait! This is not something we are doing every year but more of an at-least-once-during-her-childhood thing. And maybe we will go again when Tyler is older, if he’s interested in going.
12. Make Ornaments – Last year we made ornaments using flour, salt, water, and coffee grounds. The coffee grounds made the ornaments brown so we could do bears. And then you can paint them too. And in this case, we just bought the cheap non-organic stuff. It was just a fun family activity we wanted to do and Grandma was here participating too. Maybe one day I will write up a post on how we made them. Here’s a recipe by MommyPotamus on making ornaments: http://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-make-salt-dough-ornaments/.