Typically, everyone looks forward to special occasions. After all, birthdays, anniversaries, summer and winter holidays provide us with the opportunity to get together with friends, family, and loved ones. However, planning for special occasions can often be quite stressful, and it can be downright overwhelming when you are suffering from fibromyalgia syndrome. In fact, you may find that the stress of special occasions and holidays only makes your fibromyalgia symptoms worse. Here are some great tips to help you enjoy symptom free holidays and special occasions.
Emotions about Special Occasions
Most of us get pretty excited when it comes to those special occasions. We look forward to birthdays and anniversaries with gusto, and often can’t wait for those summer or winter holidays. However, if you are suffering from fibromyalgia syndrome you may find that you aren’t so upbeat when it comes to holidays and special events.
Many fibromyalgia patients find that special occasions only leave them stressed out and frustrated. This is because special occasions often require you to put in a lot of extra work and effort, which you may just not have to spare. The added stress of holidays and special occasions may leave you feeling angry, depressed, or even guilty. You may feel ashamed that you can’t make an occasion as “special” as you would like. Or you may feel upset that you are expected to put in so much effort, even though you are suffering terribly. These emotions are entirely normal and to be expected. However, there are steps that you can take to help deal with them.
Redefining Special Occasions
The key to enjoying special occasions and holidays when you have fibromyalgia is to redefine them. Many of us are obsessed with providing the perfect party or celebration for all our special events, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Now that you are dealing with fibromyalgia, you need to be able to enjoy your special occasions even though they are not perfect. Learn to accept that special occasions and holidays are a time for family, fun, and enjoyment. Despite the fact that society might expect Martha Stewart-like perfection, fibromyalgia just may not allow for this. To help you redefine your holiday experience, follow these steps:
- Prioritize: Ask yourself what is most important to you for this holiday or special occasion. It may be feeling healthy, spending time with family, or getting some quiet time alone. Focus on chores and activities that will allow you to accomplish these priorities. Forget everything else.
- Plan Ahead: Planning ahead is key to reducing stress related to holidays or special events. Make a list of the activities that you have decided to pursue or the chores that you have chosen to complete.
- Remember Yourself: Holidays and special events are often about other people, but don’t forget yourself! Fibromyalgia demands that you take extra special care of your body and mind. Eat a well-balanced diet, take scheduled breaks, and don’t push yourself.
Special occasions and holidays often involve mountains of chores, tasks, and errands. Here are some tips on how to cope with specific responsibilities.
Food is often at the forefront of holiday celebrations and special occasions. You may be expected to prepare a meal for a large number of people, and this can be very trying. So reduce your stress and energy output by following these tips:
- Plan what you will be serving at least one week in advance.
- Consider serving prepared meals or hiring a caterer.
- Order your groceries online or over the telephone (this will save you trudging through a busy grocery store) and have them delivered to your house. Or send a family member to go pick up necessary items.
- Enlist a friend to help you chop, dice, and slice the day before you need to make your meal.
- Cook and bake as much as you can in advance, and simply heat it up on the special day.
We often get it into our heads that our homes must be spotless for special occasions. You could spend hours cleaning every room in your house, but it will only make your muscle pain worse. Instead, consider these tips:
- Locate parties and gatherings outside, if possible, or at another family member’s house.
- Hire a cleaning service just for the big day. If you can’t afford a full clean, have them clean only a few necessary rooms (like the bathrooms and living room).
- Enlist your family’s help: have your partner and kids each clean one room.
- Make use of mops and vacuum cleaners, and avoid on-your-knees scrubbing.
You may really enjoy adding festive decorations to help celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, but decorating can be hard on your body and takes a lot of energy. Here are some great, energy-saving tips:
- Choose one type of decoration only: ribbons, for instance, are a great way to add flair to a house.
- Only decorate one room, area, or table, instead of the entire house.
- Get friends to do some of the decorating with you.
Traveling is often a necessary part of the holiday season and may be required if you want to make it to some special events. Unfortunately, traveling for long periods in cars and airplanes can really exacerbate your muscle stiffness and headaches. Here are some ways to make travel more comfortable:
- Be selective about the special functions you attend. You don’t have to go to ten different Christmas celebrations!. Only go to those functions that are really important to you.
- Watch what you eat the day before travel. Spicy and fatty foods can exacerbate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
- Travel in comfort. Take pillows, ice packs, and wear comfortable clothes.
- Pace yourself. If you are traveling in a car, take frequent breaks so that you can get out and walk around.