Fibromyalgia and the Holidays
The holiday season can be an additional challenge for people with Fibromyalgia. The pre and post activities like food preparation, home cleaning and gift shopping/wrapping are noted to take a toll on people without fibromyalgia. For those with fibromyalgia the added work, and family and friend obligations, can push their triggers resulting in additional, fatigue, chronic pain, and other medical issues associated with the fibromyalgia condition. The goal for people with fibromyalgia is to not just survive this busy time of the year but thrive at a pace that allows them to enjoy the season. Here are ten tips on how people with fibromyalgia can keep their triggers and symptoms tamed during the holiday season.
1) Honor your schedule.
- Pushing your body into a 12 hour day when it’s been functioning dutifully for you at eight hours will likely trigger symptoms.
- Try to keep to your regular sleep and awakening schedule.
2) Your choice of foods can be your friend or foe; so choose wisely:
- Green or black tea.
- Fresh fruits of the season like red apples.
- Calcium/Magnesium supplement to take prior to sleeping.
3) Know what triggers your negative self talk.
- The holiday season is full of expectations of self and others. Keep in mind what the reality is and don’t take on others’ expectations of you if you’re not able to fulfill them. Ideas such as, reminding others of your situation and the need to pace yourself puts you in control and diffuses unrealistic expectations of you and others.
4) Know your limitations, make them clear to others.
- If needed, remind your family and friends that you have a chronic illness.
- If necessary, call it arthritis, as this is universally recognized, and lets them know that you won’t be able to participate in certain activities.
- Don’t over-explain; instead, offer another idea for what you can do together.
5) Make a plan to guard against isolationism.
- Make plans to visit your church, open-air shopping centers, farmer’s markets, holiday markets, coffee shops, or anywhere people gather.
- “People watching” can help you feel more engaged in the season.
6) Purposely select activities.
- Match the activity to your known energy level, pain threshold, and fatigue level.
- · Choose events that bring enjoyment without the consequences of the inability to function the next day or two.
- Plan your schedule to be commitment free for one or two days after.
- The keyword is pace, pace your activities so that you can enjoy the ones that mean the most to you.
7) Keep it simple.
- Order gifts online in order to avoid the physical drain of mall shopping.
- If you prefer to shop in person, call the store and if they have the item, request it to be waiting for you at the front desk. This saves you the task of going down each aisle looking for merchandise saving time and energy; giving you more time with family.
- Instead of preparing all your food from scratch, use the grocery store deli, vegetable and fruit trays, or even restaurants for catering services.
8) Hire help if needed.
- Trying to hang Christmas lights, clean your carpets, wash your windows, plus do the weekly activities of food shopping and laundry will likely land you flat on your back and falling into the negative talk we discussed in the first installment of this article.
- Look at neighborhood teens looking to earn Christmas cash or hire one time professionals for bigger, household clean up jobs.
- Perhaps you have members of your own family that would love to help you yet they don’t even know they could.
- Asking for help and allowing the person to give you that help can be the best example of what the holidays are about.
9) Don’t forget the power of your exercise routine.
- This is a top priority self-care strategy to keep your symptoms controlled. Modify time spent but don’t stop your routine.
10) Remember “no” is a complete sentence.
- If you’re feeling like you “should” go to an event yet your body is screaming to lie down, listen to your body.
- You don’t need to explain your symptoms to others.
- Your true friends will understand, and a loving family will be happy to have you with them later when you are feeling re-charged and present to enjoy their company.