There was a song by Merle Haggard called, “If We Make It Through December” that was popular when I was a kid. Although I don’t have the same reasons he sang about for feeling that way, around this time every year, that’s how I start to feel.
I love the holidays, but when you live with fibromyalgia or another chronic illness, this can be the toughest time of the year. In our family, the holiday season starts with Thanksgiving and goes through New Year’s Day.
There are so many things to do, social occasions to attend, and family obligations to fulfill, it can become overwhelming. That’s why I start making my plan (and my lists) now. That way, I’m able to get everything done without wearing myself out or worse yet, ending up in a flare that completely derails my holiday joy.
I thought I’d share a few tips that have worked for me over the years – maybe some of these will help you get everything done and enjoy your holiday season as well
Make a master task list.
For this list, you’ll want to include everything you’re going to need to do for the holiday season. Do you need to deep-clean? Pick up a gift for Secret Santa at work? How about shopping for and preparing holiday meals?
You can use this list to make sure you’ve got everything covered through the entire holiday season. This could include any cleaning tasks, grocery shopping you need to do, gifts you need to buy, etc..
Break the list into smaller, bite-sized tasks.
This is where you really get down to the work of planning. Break up larger tasks into your smaller, actionable steps. Do you need to do a whole-house cleaning? Break your cleaning list into specific chores that will have to be done and spread them out over the time you have.
Obviously some things, like cooking, will have to be done on the day of, or very close to, the day of the event. Other things can be done early though – If you need to do deep cleaning, you could do one thing each day. If you need to stock up on extra groceries, you could buy your non-perishables now. Whatever you can do now will save you some time and effort once the really busy days between Thanksgiving and Christmas get here.
Now is also a good time, if you haven’t already, to decide on your budget for the holidays that you celebrate. It’s a great time to go ahead and decide who you’re going to buy gifts for, how much you want to spend on each person, and even think about what you want to give them. This can help you stick to your budget and look for the best deals on the things you really want to buy.
Do a little at a time.
If you’ve broken your list up into those smaller steps, you can plan to do a little at a time. As you know, pacing is crucial when you have a lot to do. Doing a little at a time over several days is much better than trying to do everything at once and ending up in a flare.
I guess I don’t need to tell you that shopping online can be a huge time and energy saver. Just be sure that the sites you use are reputable sites and guard your personal information carefully.
Divide the labor when possible.
Remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself, especially if you’re hosting a get-together. People are almost always happy to help out with bringing a dish, or helping in the kitchen, etc.. Check out some Tips to Make Entertaining Easier for more ways to make things simpler.
We always go to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and my Mom and I split the work. We devise our menu, then decide who is going to cook what. It’s great because neither of us has to do all the work, plus we have double the kitchen space to prepare the food.
Use your grocery store’s pick-up service.
Many grocery stores now offer curbside pick-up when you shop their stores online. Some stores are waiving their fee if you buy over a certain amount right now. I know for Kroger, it’s over $35.
Take care of yourself.
Don’t abandon your self-care plan. It’s more critical now than ever to make sure you’re looking out for yourself. When doing your planning, make sure you schedule in some time to take care of yourself.
Just say no.
If your obligations start to become too much, don’t hesitate to say no to some of them, and don’t feel guilty if you do. Decide ahead of time which things are most important, and let some of the lower-priority things go.
The holidays can be a great time of joy, but they can also be stressful, especially for those of us who live with chronic illness. If we plan ahead, pace ourselves, and give ourselves a little grace we can get things done and actually enjoy our holiday season.
What have you found most helpful for avoiding the ‘holiday sprint’ and actually enjoying the holiday season? Please share!
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