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Getting Through the Holidays with Chronic Illness
By Cynthia Perkins

Although the holidays are supposed to be full of joy and happiness, this is not always the case. They can also be stressful and overwhelming even for the average folk, and for those living with chronic illness, it can add more stress and strain to an already overburdened body and push your coping skills to the limit.

Instead of visions of Sugar Plums dancing in your head, the holidays can be a time when feelings of dread, depression, sadness, loneliness, and anxiety pervade. Having chronic illness can accentuate these unpleasant feelings. You may be reminded of holidays in the past before you were ill and long for the days of yesteryear. Television, books and movies etc. set us up with unrealistic expectations of the way the holidays are supposed to play out and when it doesn't unfold like this in our own lives, it leaves us disappointed and yearning for something more.

Holidays can also bring up old resentments and hurts from childhood. Sometimes feelings of depression may be present and you're not quite sure why. You may be experiencing affect flashbacks, which is the reliving of old feelings without the actual memory attached.

There is a great deal of pressure from society to join the rat race, but don't allow yourself to be caught in the hype. It only builds you up and then gives you a huge let down.

Here are a few tips to make it all a little easier:
bullet Remember giving doesn't have to be expensive or materialistic. Gifts from the heart are often cherished even more. Give of yourself. Share intimate quality time with loved ones.
bullet Keep things simple. Remember that the holidays are really about giving, loving and being thankful.
bullet Cherish and enjoy your precious moments with loved ones.
bullet Prepare and plan ahead.
bullet Get lots of clean air, pure water, rest, and exercise.
bullet Avoid sugar and unhealthy snacks. These will only exacerbate symptoms and aggravate depression. Make your own healthy alternative snacks sweetened with fruit juice, maple syrup, stevia, or other healthy sweeteners.
bullet Take these snacks with you when you go to social events. Find alternatives to eat, don't go without so that you feel deprived.
bullet Allow extra time to prepare for social events. Don't take on too much.
bullet Avoid crowds; shop early. Make some homemade gifts or give gift certificates or take advantage of catalogs and online shopping.
bullet Acknowledge and be aware of your feelings. You don't have to feel a certain a way. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you feel.
bullet If you're feeling sad, allow yourself to grieve.
bullet Take naps.
bullet Don't set expectations too high. Your holiday doesn't have to be perfect.
bullet Prioritize and minimize. Don't overdue.
bullet Don't forget to give yourself a gift. (A massage, book, extra time in bed or something special you've wanted for a long time.)
bullet Communicate your needs and feelings to others.

See Also:

Practical Ways to Keep Your ADD Under Control During the Holiday Season
he holidays are stressful for everyone, especially ADDers, but you can keep your ADD in check.

Have a Happy Holidays with Your Partner
The holidays are about giving, so learn how to give the gift of a healthy relationship by working with your partner.

10 Tips to a Stress-Free Holiday
The stress-free way to enjoy the holidays is to plan, take one step at a time, and have a sense of humor.

How To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
Avoid the Seasonal Seven (the average weight most Americans gain between Thanksgiving and New Year’s). Learn tips and tricks to avoid gaining weight while still enjoying the season.

Cynthia Perkins, M.Ed. is a holistic health counselor specializing in issues of living with chronic illness, chronic pain and disability. She is also author of the inspirational E-Book "Finding Life Fulfillment when Living with Chronic Illness-A Spiritual Journey". Services, Ebooks and a FREE Newsletter can be found at her website. http://www.holistichelp.net/

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