This is part 2 of last week’s blog. Here’s a quick recap. When living with a long-term condition, it can feel that sometimes during the holiday season you are sacrificing the fun you want to have. You may have to watch how much you do to manage fatigue and so feel like you are missing out on fun events. Or you have to be mindful of what you eat and so feel like you can’t indulge.
Having fun AND looking after yourself when you live with a long-term condition is possible. It requires a little planning for the 4 big F’s of the holiday season:
- Food and drink
The planning element is important.
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 if the family hasn’t yet found a way through that or you haven’t found a way to manage yourself in the situation (and many of us have been or are in this situation), spending it with other family is an option: siblings, relatives, friends. 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Many times the stress points are when old (and outdated) roles within the family system reappear in the here and now. 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. So 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.
One popular idea of fun in our society is – getting to do what we want when we want and how we want. There’s a real freedom in that, which many people enjoy. However, this way of identifying with fun all of the time can have unhealthy repercussions when we are living with a long-term condition.
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.
2. That is just one definition of fun. There are others. And 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.
So if you ever find yourself feeling despondent over the idea of not having any fun, particularly during the holiday season, 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 or several? Is there anything else I can be doing that I would enjoy. It’s ok to feel sad in those moments when you recognise what you have lost. It’s a normal response to what has happened. 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 having a long-term condition and how do you make sure you have fun? Feel free to share and leave a comment below.
P.S. Pass it on
Although these blogs are written in the context of living with serious illness or a chronic condition, the ideas contained within are applicable to everyone. So if you think a friend or family member would benefit from reading it, or you just want to share it with the world, share this post on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or email using the icons below.
I am now on break and will start posting again in mid-January. Until then, have a joyous, fun, relaxing and healthy holiday season and start to 2016.
© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2015