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6 Things I Do to Reduce Holiday Stress for My Husband's Chronic Pain

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Since my husband has been afflicted with chronic pain, I look for ways to simplify stressful and busy events for our family. I have found that if I am strained, he in turn is strained. Therefore, if I can reduce my stress level it will reduce his. Stress makes his pain skyrocket. His pain, at high levels, creates other issues such as slurred speech, irritability and his capacity for concentration is diminished. He does not enjoy anything during those times. I want him to enjoy the holidays! I want him to enjoy his holidays. Everyone should be able to enjoy them. Simplifying things, and prearranging certain aspects make an enormous impact on the stress level the holidays bring.

chandelier ornaments hanging down

Here are six ways I reduce the stress from our holidays.

1. Bring simple dishes. I decide in advance easy things for me to bring or easily make for the holidays. Store bought desserts are perfectly acceptable. I buy a Greenberg smoked turkey. Greenberg’s are fully cooked and absolutely delicious! These turkeys can be delivered just about anywhere, too.

greenberg smoked turkey

2. Have an exit plan. We prearrange an area my husband will go when it gets to loud. Depending on where the holiday event is being held, we will have a quiet area he can escape to. We also discuss in advance how long we will stay or how I will know it is time for us to go due to his pain.

3. Give gift cards. Yes, giving personalized gifts is what I prefer. However, gift cards are simple yet thoughtful. You must still put thought into where the gift card will come from. Everyone loves a gift card, too!

4. Decorate simply. I like to decorate with lights and lots of displays around the house. Now I use net lighting that can be done easily from the ground. If you have a lot of decorations, choose your favorite few pieces and put only those out. I put a few things in specific high traffic areas of my home now. Another option is to hire someone to do your decorating. My children have taken to decorating for me. It is too difficult for my husband to get in the attic and the kids think of it as an adventure.

5. Choose your events carefully. There are so many events around the holidays. Events add stress. Only attend the ones you really get enjoyment from or must attend. Accept that every family event is not mandatory. It’s your life and your stress level. Choose less stress and more enjoyment.

6. Find quiet time. Watch a movie together. Read a good book. Take a bubble bath. Get a massage. Find time to sit and watch the sun set. Enjoy some Christmas music with a loved one. Drive through the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights. Just find a way to enjoy a little time relaxing away from the hustle and bustle that comes with the holidays.

nativity sculpture

These six simple steps are easy things I do to try and reduce stress around the holidays. In the past I made lots of different Christmas candies, cooking most of them, as well as decorating the house from top (yes, I climbed on the roof) to bottom. I have learned to minimize those decorations and my candies are the simplest ones I can make, no stove top cooking involved. As a result of my simplified decorating I swapped my full blown nativity set to a one piece simple one, shown at the left. By doing this we can still have some of what we enjoy but in a less stressful way. Reducing the amount of decorations also makes the house seems less cluttered and that reduces some of my husband’s anxiety and stress. Gift cards minimizes shopping time and wrapping time. Giving gift cards also simplifies traveling with gifts.

Holidays are stressful but that stress can be curtailed some. How do you lessen holiday anxiety? What tips do you have for minimizing the stress holidays bring? I would love to hear your ideas!

This post was originally published on Dad Has a Headache.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: November 24, 2016
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