It’s no secret that the holidays come with added stress. Now, throw a chronic illness like lupus into the mix and the jolliest time of year can easily become a time of increased tension and anxiety. All of the things most people look forward to about the holidays (gift wrapping and shopping), you are dreading. Luckily, there are some safeguards we can put into place that can help us physically and emotionally, allowing us to make the most out of this special time of year.
The truth is, I literally wait in excitement all year long for Christmas. Growing up in a large Italian family, the holidays were always a big deal, and Christmas Eve was the night of all nights. Today, my excitement still builds as Dec. 25th approaches, but I will be the first to admit it also comes with a twinge of worry. Perhaps you feel this trepidation as well, and struggle with a barrage of illness-related thoughts and questions, such as:
- What if a flare hits?
- Where will all of our families want to celebrate?
- Do I need to travel?
- And what happens if I get sick and can’t do all of the things I need/want to do?
As someone who’s lived with lupus for over 20 years and experienced a great deal of holiday seasons while managing a chronic illness, I’m going to share my five go-to strategies to help decrease stress levels, prevent the severity of flares and symptoms, and successfully manage lupus during the holidays…
Create a Game Plan for At-Home Events vs. Traveling to Events
It’s important to plan ahead for both at-home events or events at another destination. If you’re planning on hosting a dinner or party at your home then take into consideration the length of time you’d like the party to be and the number of people you’re capable of handling. If 2- to 3-hours is your limit, be sure to set a clear end time on the invitations to let guests know when the party’s over. If you live with other people, you should also discuss this with them so everyone is on the same page.
If you are planning to travel locally to events, you might want to consider driving a separate vehicle from your friends, family, or partner. This allows your companions to continue on in the festivities while you can take yourself home, slip on those pj’s, grab some tea, and get into bed.