Sunday, December 15, 2019

Weekly Inspiration: Managing - and Enjoying - the Holiday Season

Things have been quiet here on the blog because my beloved laptop was in for repairs for the past week, an unexpected challenge! Now that I have it back (safe and sound and with all data intact), I thought it was a good time to share some tips on managing--and even enjoying--the holiday season while living with chronic illness.

I was already feeling more than the usual pre-holiday pressure this week because Thanksgiving was so late this year, meaning an even shorter Christmas season, and we were away on vacation during Thanksgiving week--a much-needed and wonderful break--that meant I was even less prepared than usual to jump into Christmas preparation. So, when my laptop quit on me this week, and Apple said they had to send it away for maybe a week, I panicked! For starters, that morning that I found I couldn't even type in my password was the day I'd set aside to publish my new book, Finding a New Normal: Living Your Best Life with Chronic Illness. So, clearly, with all my files locked into my laptop and inaccessible, that wasn't going to happen! I thought, OK with no writing work possible, I can get all my Christmas stuff done. Write out cards and send them? Address list on the laptop. Finish buying gifts? Gift and shopping lists on the laptop. Start my end-of-year DVD and photo books? All my recent photos on the laptop. And on and on--I was pretty much dead in the water for now.

Luckily, after living with ME/CFS for 17+ years, I know how to deal with these kinds of unexpected challenges. I call it A Plan B Day and rearrange my priorities (the article at the link explains my approach in detail). Usually, my challenges are health and body related, but my computer woes fit the model, too! In this case, I reluctantly realized my book is not going to get published this year (look for it in early January). So, when you have plans for the holidays and your body just won't cooperate, try it for yourself ... declare a Plan B Day, make alternate plans, and focus on taking care of yourself.

I have also been struggling with a cold virus that made its way through our family after vacation. My younger son and husband (both otherwise healthy), caught the cold and are feeling better by now. For my older son and I, we rarely "catch" viruses due to the immune dysfunction (like many with ME/CFS), but being exposed can make us crash. For me, this time, since we've made a lot of progress in normalizing our immune systems, I have had mild symptoms on and off for over a week now. This also required some Plan B rearranging, since some days I woke with a sore throat and aches and some days I felt good! My husband kindly offered to do things like grocery shopping, and I did my best to listen to my body each day. Here are our strategies for dealing with viruses-- both how we've improved our immune function and how to treat when we are exposed to a virus. "Tis the season!

Even if you can get through the holiday season without viruses and crashes, spending lots of time with extended family and friends who may not understand your life with chronic illness is another common challenge of the season. This article, Managing Family Relationships: Holidays and Beyond includes lots of tips (from hard experience) to help you not only survive holiday gatherings but even enjoy them.

Fortunately, most of our holiday time this year will be spent at home, just the four of us, which is wonderful (and far easier). This week, we put up and decorated our Christmas tree (see photo at the top), which is one of our favorite parts of the season. We had to do it at lunchtime on a Wednesday to get everyone there, but it was worth it! And now that I have my laptop back, I have a lot to get done, but I'm going to continue to pace myself and listen to my body.

What are YOUR tips for managing the holiday season?
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