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Surviving the Holidays with a Chronic Illness

Surviving the holidays can feel daunting and overwhelming when you’re sick, but there are things you can do to ease the stress and actually enjoy yourself. I’ve had quite a few years of experience in this area, and these are the tips I recommend to help you not only get through the holidays, but also enjoy them.

1. Plan Ahead

Many of you may travel or spend the holidays at a family member’s house. This will mean losing control over what foods you have access to—if you don’t plan ahead. I will always make green drinks for myself and store them in an airtight container and pop them in the fridge of my mother’s house upon arrival. And I don’t care if I look silly doing it, nor should you! If green drinks aren’t your thing, pack something that is easy for you to access so you are not forced to eat food that will make you sicker and ruin your week. Apples, bananas, nut-butters, beef jerkies (nitrate free), nuts, sweet potato or kale chips, etc, are all examples of snacks you can pack easily in a purse or bag to get you through a party without coming home in an inflamed mess.

2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Accept where you are in life. It’s very hard struggling through a chronic illness, especially at the holidays when everyone around you seems able to enjoy themselves and eat everything in sight. But, everyone has problems. You’re not alone. This is where you are today, but relax and enjoy yourself knowing that nothing in life is static—everything changes. There will be better days ahead. Make a concerted effort to focus on all of the people and things in your life for which you are grateful. You may be in a place of pain this year, but you are still alive. As long as you are breathing, there are opportunities for you to improve your situation. Expect the coming year to be full of blessings and improvements in your health. Looking forward to those improvements and expecting them will make this day easier to endure and actually enjoy!

3. Take a Break

Now is not the time to try and do everything to please everyone. Taking care of yourself should always be a primary goal. Set aside planned times to sneak away and take short cat-naps, or even simply be alone and quiet your mind. The non-stop socializing and frenetic activities at the holidays will wear you down to nothing if you do not take time to regroup and replenish your energy. Do not volunteer to host a party or cook for hours on end … the world will not stop turning if you phone it in and bring a dish from the grocery store instead of the family’s favorite home-made recipe. Don’t guilt yourself for needing or wanting a break or for taking things slowly. Your body will thank you for it!

4. Remind Yourself How Awesome You Truly Are

Think of all of the things you’ve endured this past year and how far you’ve come. Life with a chronic illness is so hard. Not many people truly understand your situation, which can make it feel even more isolating and painful. The fact that you are fighting this battle and keeping your head above water is something to celebrate. You’re a rockstar! Sit for a moment and pretend to be your own best friend. What if you were sitting next to a person who had endured everything you’ve endured up to this point in time … what would you say to him or her? You’d probably tell this person how proud you are of all they’ve overcome and how inspired you are by their journey. You would probably want to give this person a hug and tell them to keep it up! Well, tell those things to yourself, because YOU are your own best friend. You are awesome, and you are going to have better days ahead.

The holidays should be a time of gratitude, love, and reflection, not debilitating stress! By taking time to care for yourself properly, you will be able to enjoy this season and not simply endure it. I wish each and every one of you a safe and happy holiday season and a healthy and happy 2020.

Like what you read? Check out Holly’s new book, "The Healer Within – My Recovery From Chronic Lyme, CFS, and Autoimmune Disease" NOW ON AMAZON!

And LIKE her on Facebook at “The Healer Within You”


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