You have probably heard it before: "It's not about the gifts and parties, it's about spending time with the loved ones, introspect, enjoy good company, have a kind heart and a peaceful mind." Easier said than done. Especially when you're living with health disorders like fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, the holiday season can send your immune system into overload! Stress and depression arrive, as do your unwelcome guests!
If you know you'll be expected to prepare a large meal, start thinking about the menu ahead of time and even begin stocking up on items periodically to avoid last minute dashes to the grocery store. Lists can be a savior when it comes to buying gifts and don't forget about the joys of online shopping, no lines.
Making too many commitments is a surefire way to send your stress levels surging. Always keep the word "no" as an option when asked to attend or do certain things and resist the temptation to over-volunteer. The key is to be realistic about what you can handle. Don't attempt to do the entire cooking, shopping, decorating, inviting, etc. Try to stick to your normal routine as much as possible, taking frequent breaks, and asking for help when needed.
Finances are usually a sore subject during the holiday season. Be sure to set a clear budget for spending and stick to it, overspending is a direct route to elevated stress levels.
Try, as much as possible, to stick to your normal diet. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don't go overboard on sweets, junk food or drinks. We all have a tendency to overindulge during this time of year, but the consequences to your health may not be worth it. Along with healthy food, continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.
Resist urges to withdraw from activities, although it may be difficult depending on how you feel. Take advantage of the opportunity to spend time with those you love and cherish.
If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
Set Aside Differences:
Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
Take a Breather:
Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
Most of all, don't forget to have fun!