6 Tips To Navigating The Easter Holiday With Chronic Illness
With just a few short days to go until Easter, I'm sure that most of us are either already covered in egg dye, or furiously coloring eggs to summon the Easter Bunny's arrival. So many bright colors, and egg salad of course, so much egg salad. But like any other holiday during the year, they can be hectic and stressful, what with the family coming over, getting dinner on the table, or getting all of that last-minute shopping finished up. With a chronic illness, that stress can more than double and just mess with our bodies something fierce. If we weren't in a flare before, we'll likely get one during the aftermath of the holiday. So, I've compiled a few tips for surviving the Easter holiday when you're living with a chronic illness.
This rule is the most important one of all, thus why it landed in the coveted number one spot. Even if it isn't a holiday, pacing yourself is the best thing that you can do, each and every day. If we push ourselves and our bodies, we are going to pay for it, hard. I think nearly every one of us has learned that the hard way already. If you have a list of tasks that absolutely has to get done, there are a few different ways that you can get them finished.
Ask For Help
There is absolutely no shame in asking for help from others. Think about it, everyone, at one point or another in their lives, is going to have to ask for help, so trust me when I say you're not the only one who is asking for help. Prepping for holidays is a big challenge! If you have children, get them involved in the smaller tasks that need to get done (i.e. picking up toys, clothes, vacuuming, etc.)
Take Breaks Often
Take breaks, often. Personally, this is the way that I normally get things done. My husband will set a timer for me, usually for fifteen to twenty minute intervals, and I do what I have to do, whether it is cleaning, cooking, or anything else, and when the timer goes off, I take a break for another ten minutes. Recoup, rub my muscles, take my medication, or anything else that I need to do during that time. I get myself feeling a little better, and then I go back to doing what I was doing. We repeat that process until the task gets done. But of course, every person is different. Perhaps you can only work five minutes at a time, that is okay! All of our bodies tolerate experiences and physical activity differently from one another. Maybe you need a longer break? That's cool too. The point is, do whatever you have to do for yourself to get the task at hand finished.
Take Care Of Yourself, First
Holidays are absolutely notorious for bringing out the worst in people. Between the stress of putting the holiday celebration on, to getting everybody together under one roof, it's a stress-filled time, of that there is no doubt. But the thing that you have to hold fast to when you're visiting friends and family members during the holidays?
You are the most important person to take care of.
Everyone and everything else has to become secondary to taking care of yourself. I know that may sound selfish, but think about it for a moment. Not to sound harsh, but how will you help anybody else if you're not faring well? Now, I'm not talking about inevitable medical emergencies or anything like that, I just mean that we have to take the steps to keep ourselves as well as we can possibly be. We have to avoid stress, take time for ourselves and just be.
Now a big source of holiday stress generally comes from the anxiety of seeing family members and friends that we haven't seen in a while. Many, we enjoy visiting with, talking, laughing, eating and drinking late into the night. We have a wonderful time with them. Then, there are the others, those who aim to drain the life out of anyone or anything that they come in contact with. Constant complainers, nasty naggers, terrible taunters. You know what I'm talking about. From the second they walk through the door, things seem different. They don't seem to care for anyone else's feelings but their own.
If you have someone like this in your own family, you have a few choices. If you are hosting the holiday get together, you can politely ask that family member to try and be a little more positive and explain to them that their negativity just gets you down. You could try to avoid them during the time they're in your home, but that may prove to be tough. Finally, if you know that you'll just be miserable the entire time that they're there, you can make the choice to not invite them to the gathering. It may seem hard-hearted, but if honestly talking to them about how you feel won't work on them, then it all comes down to you taking care of yourself again. That is the ultimate goal that you have to always always keep in mind, no matter what.
Eat Nutritious (Somewhat)
Yes, I put 'somewhat.' Holidays can be rough, mostly because of the incredible foods that are all around us. Salty goodness, sweet treats, delectably delicious dinners, it's absolutely insane, you could go absolutely nuts when it comes to all of the scrumptious food that pop up when the holidays roll around. Easter, for instance, we have chocolate bunnies, sugary coated marshmallow treats, baskets filled to the brim and overflowing with candies of every kind! Temptation is a real bitch. Seriously, especially if I'm on my period, my face is in that basket quicker then you can say "Cadbury's!"
But we do have to keep ourselves in check, as far as mealtime goes. We've got to remember to stay hydrated, and eat a balanced meal. Make sure you're getting the proper nutrients and that you're remembering to take all of your medications, too. Keep the treats in moderation (so...hard....) and you'll keep your tummy and your body happy!
When It's Over.....REST!
When all of the eggs have been found, and the chocolate bunnies have been devoured, and it's finally over for another year, sit down.
Did you hear me? I want you to sit down. I want you to reflect on how well you did! We have to take pride in our achievements, no matter how small we may think they are. Reflect on the memories that were made, the fun that was had, and the overall success of the entire day. Once everyone has gone home, take the rest of the night off for yourself. Do something nice, for you. Read that book you haven't picked up in awhile! Make a steaming cup of chai tea and curl up under your favorite blanket. Take a hot bath with extra bubbles. Maybe even sneak a few stray Easter candies?! Point is, just do something for you. I promise you that the dishes can wait until tomorrow!
So, take care of yourself, don't over-do it, and last but not least, have fun!