Getting Through the Holidays with Chronic Illness
By Cynthia Perkins
Although the holidays are supposed to be full of joy
and happiness, this is not always the case. They can also be
stressful and overwhelming even for the average folk, and for those living with
chronic illness, it can add more stress and strain to an already
overburdened body and push your coping skills to the limit.
Instead of visions of Sugar Plums dancing in your head, the holidays
can be a time when feelings of dread, depression, sadness, loneliness,
and anxiety pervade. Having chronic illness can accentuate these
unpleasant feelings. You may be reminded of holidays in the past
before you were ill and long for the days of yesteryear. Television,
books and movies etc. set us up with unrealistic expectations of the
way the holidays are supposed to play out and when it doesn't
unfold like this in our own lives, it leaves us disappointed and
yearning for something more.
Holidays can also bring up old resentments and hurts from childhood.
Sometimes feelings of depression may be present and you're not
quite sure why. You may be experiencing affect flashbacks, which is
the reliving of old feelings without the actual memory attached.
There is a great deal of pressure from society to join the rat race,
but don't allow yourself to be caught in the hype. It only
builds you up and then gives you a huge let down.
Here are a few tips to make it all a little easier:
Remember giving doesn't have to be expensive or materialistic.
Gifts from the heart are often cherished even more. Give of yourself.
Share intimate quality time with loved ones.|
Keep things simple. Remember that the holidays are really about
giving, loving and being thankful.|
Cherish and enjoy your precious moments with loved ones.|
Prepare and plan ahead.|
Get lots of clean air, pure water, rest, and exercise.|
Avoid sugar and unhealthy snacks. These will only exacerbate symptoms
and aggravate depression. Make your own healthy alternative snacks
sweetened with fruit juice, maple syrup, stevia, or other healthy
Take these snacks with you when you go to social events. Find
alternatives to eat, don't go without so that you feel deprived.|
Allow extra time to prepare for social events. Don't take on too
Avoid crowds; shop early. Make some homemade gifts or give gift
certificates or take advantage of catalogs and online shopping.|
Acknowledge and be aware of your feelings. You don't have to
feel a certain a way. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you
If you're feeling sad, allow yourself to grieve.|
Don't set expectations too high. Your holiday doesn't have
to be perfect.|
Prioritize and minimize. Don't overdue.|
Don't forget to give yourself a gift. (A massage, book, extra
time in bed or something special you've wanted for a long time.)|
Communicate your needs and feelings to others.|
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Cynthia Perkins, M.Ed. is a holistic health counselor specializing in
issues of living with chronic illness, chronic pain and disability.
She is also author of the inspirational E-Book "Finding Life
Fulfillment when Living with Chronic Illness-A Spiritual
Journey". Services, Ebooks and a FREE Newsletter can be found at
her website. http://www.holistichelp.net/
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