Coping with Chronic Conditions During the Holidays

Yes, the holidays are a time for cheer, but they’re also known for stress. And if you’re someone that has a chronic condition, then you probably already know that stress wreaks havoc on your body. Flare-ups in your symptoms can make it difficult to enjoy this special time of year.

There are 3 main reasons that chronic illness worsens during the holidays.

Environmental factors 

Navigating busy airports, long car or plane rides, busy malls, jet lag, a different climate, and changes to routines are some of the environmental factors that contribute to stress and make you feel worse during the holidays.

Interpersonal factors 

People are getting together during the holidays to celebrate with family, friends, and work colleagues. That usually means music, dancing, and alcohol. People with chronic diseases may find it difficult to attend certain celebrations. It can also be challenging for them to fully participate in all the merriment due to pain or fatigue. Many people say they feel awkward or like a burden when asking for special accommodations due to their chronic conditions, too. It also may be difficult for others who don’t face the same challenges to understand, leaving you feeling unheard or disvalued. 

Physical factors 

Food and drink are prominent during holiday celebrations. They’re probably a departure from the regime that you follow daily. These abrupt changes in a short period can lead to stomach upset, inflammation, pains and aches, fatigue, dizziness, and poor sleep.

Planning ahead is the key to coping with chronic conditions during the holidays.

By having a plan, you reduce a lot of the stress that comes with winging things. You’ll be able to stick with your wellness routines and habits by anticipating disruptions. Knowing your needs in advance lets you make special requests of your hosts with plenty of time or make your own arrangements. 

Letting your loved ones and hosts know that you may leave early helps establish expectations and avoid conflicts or hurt feelings. Planning also includes rehearsing answers to others’ curious questions, saying no to requests, and asking for help. This leaves you feeling empowered, not ashamed.

Despite all your best planning efforts, your chronic condition may still interfere with your enjoyment of the holidays. Well, you can prepare for that, too. Make a list of things that you find helpful, calming, and soothing when you’re not feeling well, whether in private or around others. Here are some ideas you can do in private or when in public, whether at a party or on a plane ride:

  • Step out of party for a break from chatter and loud music
  • Go for a short walk
  • Meditate
  • Deep breathing
  • Practice gratitude
  • Light stretching or some yoga poses
  • Journaling in notebook or notes app on your device
  • Read or listen to a book
  • Listen to a playlist of relaxing music
  • Do a crossword or sudoku puzzle
  • Recite positive affirmations
  • Practice EFT tapping

Hopefully, you’ve got some ideas about how to cope with chronic conditions and still enjoy this holiday season. If you’re having a difficult time and would like more support, you can call us at (305) 501-0133 or click here to schedule a free 20-minute Clarity Consult .

Envision Wellness is a private practice that offers psychotherapy, psychological testing, and life coaching in Miami, FL.  Our team has a passion for helping others achieve happy, fulfilling, and change-making lives that make the world a better place.  Each therapist has their areas of expertise.  Not sure who you’d like to work with?  Click here to schedule a free 20-minute phone consult to help you decide.

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