The holiday season can be a festive, fun-filled, family-focused festivity, or it can be a painful, exhausting, draining time of conflict. For most people with chronic pain, it usually falls somewhere in between. To make your holidays lean towards the lighter side, here are our top ten favorite tips for pain patients during the holidays.
What? Is that even possible? Entertaining with no (or low) stress? Yes, it is true. You can entertain with less stress this year. Simple things like changing what you focus on can make a world of difference.
Top tip: Remember, your guests are here to see you. They aren’t looking at your bathroom, judging your food, or rating your skills. Keep it simple and family/friend-focused. Keep in mind that you want to spend time with your loved ones and enjoy their company, and you may find yourself having a much better time!
It’s practically a parenting rule: kids want to help decorate the house for the holidays. Sometimes this “help” can lead to more clean-up for the adults, but with a little planning the kids can take over making your holiday house festive. From wreaths to cards to ornaments to snow globes, there is something for every age.
Top tip: Don’t forget the outdoor creatures who need some holiday love. Spread peanut butter on pinecones, roll in bird seed, and hang the finished product just outside your window. Your feathered friends will love you (and visit you) all winter!
If you are not suffering from chronic pain but have a family member who is and is entertaining this season, take the time to look at some suggestions for thoughtful, pain-friendly hostess gifts. A traditional bottle of wine may not go well with prescription medications, but there are any number of other great gift ideas.
Top tip: For a close family member, an assortment of bath salts can be a lovely gift. If the person entertaining is not as close to you, think hot sauce assortments (pain-fighting capsaicin) or scented aromatherapy candles.
Speaking of gifts, shopping for and wrapping a family’s worth of gifts (plus any donated gifts) can cause pain in the joints, muscles, and bones (and patience!). This post offers ten tips for simplifying the gift-giving process, making the season a little more joyful for both receiver and giver.
Top tip: If the store offers free gift wrapping (or reasonably priced, or collects donations for a charity), take them up on it. Save yourself time, stress, and strain on your hands and come away with beautifully wrapped gifts!
Exercise can fall by the wayside in the rush and flurry of activity that surrounds the holiday season. This can result in stiffness and pain, two things that do not make the season joyful. Get ready for the holidays by making sure you take the time to exercise, making caring for yourself in this way a priority.
Top tip: Use your neighborhood’s holiday light displays as a great way to get a walk in. That’s not all: the post above has seven more outdoor activities that make exercise fun!
If you have family or friends who suffer from chronic pain, it can be difficult to find the perfect gift. Those without chronic pain hardly ever think about buttons or other closures. Imagine you are trying to button a dress shirt while wearing mittens and you have a taste of what it is like to have less than full function in your hands. Use our list to give gifts that the recipient can use and enjoy!
Top tip: Adaptive gear for cooks, golfers, knitters, and other hobbyists are always a great idea!
You hosted a huge family gathering and find yourself stuck with a kitchen full of dirty dishes and leftovers. This post helps prevent that from happening in the first place, walking you though some great ideas that help make cleaning up easier.
Top tip: Our very favorite tip? Don’t go it alone. Enlist the help of friends and family to make cleaning up easier. One person refrigerates leftovers, someone else scrapes plates, another rinses, and another loads the dishwasher. And remember: whomever cooks should not have to clean.
New tips for 2015
Simplify gift-giving for your children
Parents want the best for their kids, but an avalanche of presents isn’t doing them (or you) any favors. When thinking about what to get for your kids, follow this little ditty:
Something they want,
Something they need.
Something to wear,
And something to read.
This sets the expectation for the holiday while honoring the fact that sometimes getting things we just want is a lovely thing. Too many gifts under the tree, and they all lose their significance. Too many sweaters or pairs of socks, and the gift may not be special. Balance without excess: it’s a good rule of thumb for simplifying gift-giving.
Consider changing your traditions
For some, the holiday season comes with very specific conditions that must be observed, no matter what. For others, pain may make them re-evaluate the scope of the holiday season. Changing traditions to create new ways to celebrate may be as simple as eating a family dinner out (instead of cooking an elaborate meal at home), or it may mean spending gift money on travel to somewhere warm and sunny to give achy bones some rest. Traditions can change when they no longer serve those who keep them. Give yourself permission to adapt and try something new.
Spend time with those less fortunate than you
This may seem like one more thing to add to the list, but if you make charitable work during the holidays a priority, it may get you ready to celebrate the things that really matter. You may be in terrible, chronic pain, and you may be going through difficult times, but giving makes us happy, and happiness changes our perception of pain. Heading into the holiday season with less pain is a good thing.
If you are living with chronic pain, what are your top tips for making your holidays merry and bright (and pain-free)?