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3 Ways to Chronic Illness-Proof Your Next Christmas

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You might think I’m ridiculous thinking about next Christmas already when we haven’t even got this one over with yet, but stay with me here, there’s method in the madness!

So why think about it now?

Because, in a few months time, maybe even a few weeks time, you may have somehow convinced yourself that it’s not really that detrimental to your health, that it’s not that bad. Because that’s what we do, the human brain lies to us!

But right now, while you’re in the thick of it having to socialize with Aunt Doris who keeps asking you why you’re sick all the time, and the empty bank balance that’s not going to pay next month’s medications and the never-ending list of things to do that no one seems to be helping with, and the party you’re at that you’re not sure why because your feet hurt and you can’t eat any of the food and through all of it you think that maybe everyone has just had mass amnesia and forgotten that you are actually sick because the help isn’t forthcoming but the task list keeps getting longer… That’s the stuff we forget in a few months time, but right now we can see the problems clearly and we have the will to do something about it so it doesn’t repeat every year.

I’ve always struggled with the holiday season and the illness warriors in my community and around me in my life kept telling me the same, that they dreaded it all. It’s why I wrote a mini book of tips and tricks to help and it’s why I’m going to share three of my favorite tips with you here that you can take away and use straight away.

1. Create your holding response.

This is one you can practice all year round but it’s going to come in especially handy when invites and commitments start landing on you near the holiday time. A lot of the time we don’t know what to say when someone invites us or asks us to help with something. Sometimes, as illness and mental health warriors, we don’t know how much personal information to share or how to share it in the right way. So, we may end up saying yes out of politeness when what we mean is “no” or “I don’t know.” A holding response is simply a sentence you practice and adapt to the situation in person, online, on a text to politely respond to a request or invite when you want to give yourself the breathing room to think about it, or to think of a more polite way to say no!

Here’s a simple one as an example:

“Thanks so much for the invite, that sounds wonderful! Can I get back to you about that once I’ve checked my calendar?”

It’s polite but clear that they can’t and aren’t getting a response right now and it takes the pressure right off you.

2. Family fun and getting stuff done can live together in (a messy kind of) harmony.

OK. It’s not going to be quite as refined as if you did it all yourself but… probably not as fun either! There are so many tasks and things to do at the holiday times that can be turned into fun for everyone. From baking homemade edible gifts, to bagging up items for charity, to taking turns decorating the tree. As adults we can be (especially when it comes to children or young adults) a bit reluctant to hand over responsibility and let someone else try. And sometimes that doesn’t help us as warriors. We may not see people having fun with us as “helping” and it may seem like more of a hinderance, but that’s how people (especially younger people) learn how to do those things and it’s how they’ll gradually take the burden from you. The great thing about thinking about these things now is you have a year to start training family members to do the tasks that you’ve struggled with this time round. What can you let go of having to be in charge of? You’re allowed to let someone else lead sometimes.

3. Have a system that works for you.

This is less one tip and more of a theme. The holiday season is a machine of many moving parts. Gifts, food, family, cooking, wrapping, posting, partying… recipe for disaster. You are literally not meant to remember all the things that you are supposed to remember about this time of year. Your brain is not meant to hold on to the number of stamps you need, how many grams of flour, which cartoon character your niece likes. People who remember this stuff have a system. Sometimes it becomes so second nature that it looks like they don’t have one… but I promise they do.

And the system is actually very simple: write things down and keep them all in one place. Find a system you like for recording the things you need to record and then just keep using it and refining it. The minute you write something down where it will be checked your brain stops subconsciously reminding you of it every five minutes and stressing you out. So get it all out of your head and on to paper.

You’ll find more tips from me and also from the people in my online warrior community in my Kindle ebook: “The Sassy Classy Warrior. A Guide to Surviving the Holiday Season: For Chronic Illness and Mental Health Warriors.”

Plus it comes with bonus printable downloads, especially with point #3 in mind… to get it all out of your head and on to paper. You can find the book here or on worldwide Amazon websites.

I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you all to take some time for you this holiday season.

Have a Sassy Classy Holiday Season, my warrior friends.

Getty Image by Kerkez

Originally published: December 22, 2018
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