Chronic Pain, Depression, Fibromyalgia, Health

Surviving the Festive Season with Fibromyalgia

Tips on surviving the festive season

There was a time when I really enjoyed the festive season … setting up Christmas trees, buying gifts for everyone in amongst the hustle and bustle of the crowds, setting a menu for Christmas Day, buying the food and then cooking a lovely Christmas lunch for my family.

Since being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, this has changed drastically!

I no longer enjoy the festive season. I now find it so stressful and really battle to cope. I have a very hard time in preparing everything needed for Christmas Day. I cannot go to the shopping centers, or malls, as the crowds overwhelm me. I have resorted to online shopping. Cooking lunch is no longer a pleasurable event … it is now something that I dread as it truly exhausts me. If I had my way, Christmas would no longer be celebrated in my house. I sound like the Grinch, but having to deal with all my symptoms and the festive season is just too much.

Our Christmas tree is normally up by the 1st of December. This year it took me until the 8th of December to put it up and that was only because my son, 14 years old, asked me to.

Just to let you know that in South Africa, December is one of the hottest seasons of the year. We do not buy real trees and there is no snow. Yet we still insist on having a large Christmas lunch when we are so hot that we cannot stand to be in the kitchen, never mind eating the hot meal on Christmas Day.

This year I have started to consider ways in which it will be easier for me to handle the festive season and I would like to share them with you. Hopefully you will find them helpful.

  • In order not to be overwhelmed by the entire season, start out by making a list of everything that is needed in order for Christmas to run smoothly. This will enable you to deal with one item at a time, instead of everything chaotically rambling around in your head.
  • Instead of trying to deal with the very busy malls, try to do all your Christmas shopping online. Chances are that you will find everything that you are looking for, where you might not find it at the mall. Start doing this early, so that there is enough time for delivery. Should this not be possible, try and get someone to do the shopping for you.
  • When setting up the decorations for Christmas, consider getting your family to do the majority of the work. We do not decorate our houses in South Africa and the decorations are limited to inside the house. Remember that you do not have to go overboard with your decorations. Do only as much as you can.
  • Make sure to take as much time needed to rest when possible.
  • Remember to say ‘No’ when necessary. You do not have to attend all the functions, etc. A simple ‘No’ is all that is needed.
  • Instead of having to prepare Christmas lunch at your house, book a table at a nice restaurant that caters for Christmas lunch. This will alleviate a lot of stress and you will not end up totally exhausted after Christmas Day.
  • Expect that after Christmas Day, you will more than likely flare up. Regardless of what steps you try to take to minimize the stress on your body, this is almost a given. Take time to rest as much as possible and for as long as you need to.
  • Depression is a common problem over the festive season and you might find your depression symptoms worsening. Take the time to talk to someone or contact a help line if needed.

And so with that, I wish you a very merry festive season filled with lots of love and happiness.

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