When living with a chronic illness, the last thing you want to do is sacrifice your health AND fun during the holiday season. It can feel like you have to curb on the fun in order to preserve your health. You may have to watch how much you do to manage fatigue. Or you have to be mindful of what you eat and so feel like you can’t indulge.
You don’t have to sacrifice your health and fun this holiday season.
It requires a planning for the 4 big F’s
- Food and drink
Planning is important so you don’t have to sacrifice your health and fun
You know the likely scenarios you will face and you plan in advance for them. You have your choices lined up so when it comes time, all you have to do is put your planned choice into action. This can eliminate the stress in the moment of having to make a choice. Stress can often lead to embracing temptation as it quickly reduces the stress.
Last week I talked about pacing yourself to keep fatigue at bay and how you can enjoy eating and drinking well without unpacking and living in the land of temptation. This week I am focusing on Family and Fun.
Getting along with Family during the holiday season
This topic deserves a blog or two in itself. (And it’s the reason I ended up splitting the theme of the blog across two posts.) The holiday season is a perfect opportunity to have a great time with family or for old arguments and roles to appear or both. There are options.
If you and your family know what you all enjoying doing together, do that and do a lot of it. If games are your family’s thing, every night can be a game night. If you all love cooking, everyone can make a part of a special family meal (think family pot-luck) or take turns making meals.
If spending time with family has consistently been stressful and some or all your family haven’t yet found a way through that, or you haven’t found a way to manage yourself in the situation, you have options. Spending the holiday with other family members, relatives or friends where you can all have a relaxing and fun holiday is an option. The definition of ‘family’ can be wide. Other options can be volunteering somewhere or going on holiday.
Many times the stress points are when old and outdated roles within the family system reappear
For example, if you are spending the holidays with a family member whose behaviour can be trying to deal with, chances are pretty good you know which behaviours those are and when they tend to appear. In the past you may have reverted to a particular role when dealing with those person’s behaviours. So you are prepared. You know what could be coming. Your knowledge can be a reminder to you to respond constructively in the here and now to the behaviours if they appear, rather than revert to a role you may have played in past similar situations.
If it is one person that the majority of the family find a bit stressful to deal with during the holiday season, some up front planning with other family members can be an option. For example, my father loved to cook but the activity brought on a lot of stress for him and hence for everyone else. Over time, my siblings and I started to help him plan and cook the meals and supporting one another in that process. My father still cooked some meals during the holidays, but we eventually took on all the bigger meals. Stress was reduced all around.
Your definition of Fun could be causing you to sacrifice your health and fun
One popular definition of fun in our society is – getting to do what you want when you want and how you want. There’s a real freedom in that, which many of us enjoy. However, this way of identifying with fun all of the time can have unhealthy repercussions when we are living with chronic illness.
So two key points.
1. There are times when you having the “do what you want when you want and how you want” fun is appropriate. The key is knowing when that is. And being aware of the consequences, i.e. possibly having to stay in bed for a day or more afterwards.
2. You don’t have to subscribe to society’s definition of fun. Your versions of fun can be unique to you. What you consider ‘fun’ can be a time by yourself doing a favourite activity or doing nothing at all. Or it can be a time when you are with people doing a lot or a little.
If you ever find yourself feeling like you have to sacrifice your health and fun and feeling despondent, ask yourself…
How am I defining fun?
What does ‘having fun’ mean to me – what am I typically doing, thinking and feeling?
Do I have one version of fun? If I were to have several, what would they be like?
Is there anything else I can be doing that I would enjoy?
It’s normal to feel despondent from time to time. These questions are meant to help you pass through the despondency rather than unpack and live there.
What’s it like for you?
Who do you consider ‘family’ and if you spend the holidays with them, what are the best moments? When is it more challenging and how do you manage those situations? How do you define fun since living with chronic illness and how do you make sure you have fun? Especially during the holidays. Feel free to share and leave a comment below.
If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.
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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2015