Last week we featured some winter tips from our Reablement Service, today they are providing tips for around Christmas time!
With Christmas only a couple of days away, we often find ourselves rushing about trying to do a million things at once!
There are tasks like Christmas shopping, the wrapping of gifts, the decorating of the tree, and the cooking of Christmas lunch to contend with long before the Queen’s Speech - these responsibilities take up a vast amount of energy.
When battling with a long-term health condition, energy is a precious and limited resource; you may struggle to get showered and dressed each morning, so the idea of spending the day Christmas shopping or cooking the Christmas lunch would be the equivalent of running a marathon for most of us. Struggling with pain and/or fatigue can often feel overwhelming at this time of year.
There are so many limitations that are apparent when suffering from chronic illness and negative thoughts and emotions can start to creep in. You may feel guilty that you can’t complete tasks and must ask for help, yet this can lead to you feeling like a burden.
There is often a feeling of frustration that you can no longer do activities that you used to enjoy and must now sit back and watch others; like decorate the tree or bake festive treats. Having young children or grandchildren to entertain can be a struggle. Keeping up with the Christmas activities or playing with the children over the holidays can be physically draining and can impact on your emotions again because you feel like you are not able to participate fully.
Once again loneliness and isolation can be felt, you may feel you miss out on enjoying the day with family because of the exhaustion. Worry and anxiety around the cost of Christmas is often experienced if relying on sick pay or benefits as your main income.
• Rest as much as possible before Christmas Day. Pace activities – do a small task, then rest for 10 minutes. The idea is to conserve energy as much as possible, so you can use it on doing the activities you want to do.
• Do your shopping online rather than wasting vital energy on the high-street. It’s much easier from a laptop on your sofa!
• Delegate – Ask for help and share out tasks.
• Make tasks easier – peel the Christmas veg sitting down.
• Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive – small tokens of appreciation or kindness is just as special as any material gift.
Of course, Christmas is about showing love, caring for each other and being grateful for all the good things in life. Even though uncomfortable symptoms will go on, with good planning and an open mind Christmas can still be an enjoyable experience. Here are our final essential tips for making Christmas with chronic illness merry and bright!
• Get your repeat prescriptions in early. Don’t run out of medication over the holiday period!
• Plan your Christmas tasks. Spread things out over several days so you don’t have to do everything at once. You can prepare veg and freeze it days before you need it. Wrap a few presents each day rather than causing more pain and discomfort from wrapping a huge pile of gifts.
• Simplify your Christmas celebrations. Don’t feel that you must stick to all the traditions, mix things up where you can, perhaps presents could be opened after lunch rather than the early morning, or maybe you could wait until evening to have your Christmas meal – who says you have to indulge in a lavish dinner with all the trimmings? Stay relaxed and spontaneous!
• Try to socially connect with people to keep your spirits up. Cancelling on invites sometimes seems like the easier option, but keeping connections with friends and loved ones often acts as a distraction from some of the symptoms and reduces depression.
• If anyone is stuck on what to get you for Christmas maybe suggest some complimentary therapy. Perhaps an aromatherapy massage, reflexology or some healing reiki to kick start your new year.
• Remember - there is no such thing as a perfect Christmas! All families disagree over the TV, a mess is always made, there is never enough batteries in the house and we all forget a vital ingredient…some even forget to buy the turkey!
From everyone at the Mind Reablement Service – We wish you a very happy Christmas!