7 Keys for Navigating the Holidays with Chronic Illness

Navigating the Holidays with a Chronic Illness

Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming!

I know that people always comment on how fast the holidays get here after the year prior, so I wanted to write a post to provide some resources for navigating the holidays when you have a chronic illness. This way you can be prepared as you move into the holiday season!

Last year, I experienced my first Thanksgiving and Christmas post-diagnosis. Symptoms had come and gone for years prior to diagnosis (and I can actually remember multiple Christmases of not feeling well), but last year was the first time things were debilitating enough to change the way I participated in festivities.

When I started thinking about the holidays, I honestly felt sadder than I did when thinking about my daily way of life. My treatment protocol was intense, but adding dietary restrictions, depression, and low energy levels to the mix caused uncertainty about participating in anything.

While there were certainly some low points for me during the months of November and December of last year, I learned some things about navigating the holidays when you have a chronic illness.

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We All Need a Little Rest

We Need RestWhen did it become cool to see how little sleep we can rely on while still maintaining the appearance of having it all together?

Why do some people need to make a point to emphasize how little they rest? (As if that somehow makes them better than the person who makes resting a priority!)

The last post on this blog was about being busy. We (primarily Americans) pride ourselves with the ability to juggle far too many commitments. We somehow are deceived into believing what we “accomplish” in a day’s work is some indication of our self-worth. That’s a lie. Whether or not you seem productive to other people has no bearing on your value. You as a human being are adequate. You are loved. You are desired. That’s what matters.

Rest and busyness are two subjects that go hand-in-hand. If you are too busy, you lack the time for rest. If you actually have time to rest, you must not be busy enough, so you’d better step it up! (Or at least that’s what society tries to tell us!)

Take that Sabbath Already!

Take a SabbathI don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. I’m tired. I’m worn out. I need a break.

It’s kind of funny for me to say this. For the first 7 months of this school year, I had more than enough free time. I was actually tired of the free time and longed to be busier. Well, sometimes you get more than you ask for…

The past couple of months have been full of regular teaching, part-time jobs, new friendships, and other extracurricular activities. Instead of having the weekends free to lounge and do my own thing, I’ve had to work. At first it seemed wonderful to make extra money, but now I’m starting to weigh the pros and cons of doing extra work.

Oftentimes for my own health and well-being it isn’t worth it to become overly busy. When I’m busy, I am more tired and stressed. And, let’s face it. Stress doesn’t make me look pretty. HA! (but, really, it’s true!)  It also doesn’t make me feel good. Some people seem to have everything under control even in stressful situations. I used to think I could handle them, but I am now happy admit that I don’t do well with stress. Not only am I uglier, but my personality is uglier… I am not as optimistic or loving as I’d like to be. Read more