“The Holidays” are supposed to be a wonderful, cheerful and happy time of year. But so often all those warm and fuzzy feelings get lost among the craziness and hullabaloo of everything we have going on, and incredible stress can set it. No one is immune to this holiday stress, but individuals with MS can feel the repercussions of stress in a much more intense way than others whose immune systems are functioning as they should be. So what can we do about the stress of ‘The Holidays’ without becoming a total recluse and hiding until January 2nd? I think there are plenty of ideas! Some that are obvious, and some that are not so obvious. Lets dig in, shall we?
I know, I know. This is one you’ve heard many times before. But, it’s for good reason! You’ve heard that phrase, “failing to plan, is planning to fail”? Yeah, I hate it too. But it’s right. Planning out your holidays, and everything about the holidays, makes them so much easier. Making a to do list of what you need to do and buy is one of my favorite things to do. I have lists everywhere. I find that writing things down makes me feel better because it’s no longer floating around in my head. Also when I write things down, I am able to see where things can be grouped together. Similar tasks and things can be picked up or done in one trip.
This is also a great opportunity to ASK OTHERS FOR HELP. Two people will get a list done in half the time, divide and conquer my friends! Often times my closest family and friends feel helpless when I tell them about my symptoms and what I go through on a daily basis. When they look at me and ask what they can do, I usually go palms up. However, just having another hand in getting chores done, or knocking things off the to-do list, is plenty. You’re getting things done, they feel like they are helping you, it’s a win-win!
My third note about planning is to plan time for yourself as well. Self care is one of the biggest things we can do in terms of stress reduction, and one of the top reasons I hear as to why people don’t do it is that ‘I don’t have time!!”. While you’re planning your social calendar and all of your trips to the store, plan in some relaxation time for you as well. That will look different for everyone, but make sure it’s in there. Whether it is some alone time with a book or movie, or getting a mani-pedi with friends, just make sure it gets in there. Please? My self care is going to be watching movies with my kittens. Sounds purrfect to me! #sorrynotsorry
When we already feel fatigued 365 days a year, ‘The Holidays’ just are insult to injury. Just the fact that the two words ‘hustle and bustle’ are associated with this time of year, can just make them that much worse for so many of us. Sleep is so often a number one priority, but it unfortunately gets tossed by the wayside for parties, cooking and spending time with family. Not to say that any of those things are bad, but when they come before sleep, many things in our bodies can start to unravel.
Maintaining our sleep schedule is going to take some boundaries. Letting people know that we will have to leave on the earlier side, just popping in for an hour or so, or even declining some invites all together, is usually the way I go. It feels like it’s unfair, but I’d rather go to 3 parties for an hour, than 1 party for 3 hours (then after that one party, be so totally exhausted that I can’t do any more parties!) Naps are also a great way to go! There has been more and more scientific evidence stating that naps are helpful for us. Quick naps during the day can restore energy quickly. I’m always down for that!
We all need to eat obviously. But what we eat around ‘The Holidays’ can look very different from what we normally eat. This can lead to a lot of digestive issues, which many of us with MS usually deal with anyway. Make sure to be drinking plenty of water, this will give your digestive organs (and every other organ) a boost and help to function at optimal levels. Make sure that fruits and veggies are present on your plates too, this will also help any issues. And if needed, short stints with fiber supplements or stool softeners will help as well. Our best bet will be to eat as regularly as possible, while enjoying ourselves at the same time.
‘The Holidays’ are truly meant to celebrate everything that is special to us. We don’t have to let the stress and their fast paced nature take away their magic. I urge you to find something new to celebrate this year. Even if it’s something small.