Holiday displays and shopping opportunities have been up since before Halloween. The continuous holiday carols, light displays, and commercials are enough to drive anyone to distraction. All of the constant stimulation revolving around the winter holidays can cause stress. People are worried about work and family commitments, attending events, and buying the perfect gifts. And, that can be even doubly so for those who battle chronic pain. From talking to your relatives about your pain condition beforehand to creating new traditions, here’s ten ways to banish holiday stress this season.
What causes holiday stress?
According to Prevention.com there are a number of things that cause people in the U.S. to become stressed over the holidays.
- Big crowds and lines
- Weight gain
- Debt from holiday spending
- Not getting along with family
- Holiday music
- Attending parties and events
Holiday stress tends to disproportionately affect women who are struggling to do it all. Often faced with a delicate balancing act between work and family, even during the rest of the year, the added burdens of ensuring a perfect holiday can be overwhelming. Plus, many pain conditions disproportionately affect women, especially those like fibromyalgia and lupus.
But the holidays don’t need to be mired in stress, anger, or anxiety. By shifting the focus and mindset, the holidays can become a time to relax with friends and family and recharge during the long nights of winter.
1. Find a better way to talk about your pain to relatives
Despite the large number of people who live with chronic pain, those who don’t endure the struggle have little idea of what daily life is like with pain. Even close relatives may not understand why you’re not feeling well or why you can’t fully participate in holiday preparation activities.
Around the holidays, when you may be hosting or visiting far-off relatives who don’t see you very often and who aren’t exposed to the day-to-day realities of living with chronic pain, explaining how you feel may be difficult. Just like medical conditions vary from person to person, people respond to the idea of chronic pain differently.
Some people may be extraordinarily compassionate and understanding. Others may recommend this cure or that remedy and make you feel like you’re not doing enough to heal your condition, even though they know little about your body and all the trials and tribulations you’ve gone through trying to feel better.
And for others, the idea of living with a chronic condition may be so far beyond their grasp, that no matter how you try to explain, they will not understand.
Nevertheless, trying to explain chronic pain to relatives is important. Sharing your experience of life with loved ones, the good times and the bad, is essential for strengthening bonds and feeling known. Even if relatives aren’t close, there are some things they should know, especially in preparation for the holidays.
Here are a few ways of explaining pain to others and tips for simplifying holiday preparations to make them more fun for everyone.
Explain your condition from a scientific perspective
If you have fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, or some other definable, primary condition, consider giving relatives information about this disease. Explain how it affects the body, what the common side effects are, and how it impacts your daily life.
If you have a more vague cause of pain, perhaps from old injuries or surgeries, explain how you came to be in pain and what you believe the causes are. Try to describe how the sensations manifes