How To Survive The Holidays With A Smile


November begins today and my mind is filled with thoughts about the upcoming holiday season. With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, I know that these months are filled with love and magic. But, for me and others with Chronic Illness, they’re also filled with fatigue, pain, depression, and stress.

My goal is to share with you a few ways to avoid some of the bad and replace it with more of the good. Just because we have Chronic Illness/s doesn’t mean that we can’t have a joyful and fun experience this year.

I’m glad to join A Chronic Voice this month with her November prompts. The words this month fit right in with my theme, and so let’s get started!

Paying, Attending, Organizing, Plunging, and Knowing are the prompts this month.

  1. Paying for Christmas is tough! Everyone expects a tree skirt covered in gifts, wrapped in Pinterest-ready paper and bows. Not only does Christmas cost a lot of money, it costs us our energy and demands our mental focus. This can prove to be a cost that’s too high to pay. I already have lots of medical debt that I’m paying off a little each month, but I still want to give gifts that are loved and appreciated. I also want to feel good enough to stay out of the bed for these special days. Pacing my physical activities is a must. Budgeting each expense is also a must.
  2. Attending the holiday events is important to me and my family. This is the time to schedule a few of the events to my calendar. I will have to put them in order of importance. We can’t attend everything, so we pick the best and leave a few days in between each one.
  3. Organizing is the part of the holidays that should be the first priority. If you want to thrive instead of survive, you’ll join me in trying to organize as much as possible. That’s why I created the Free Christmas Shopping Planner. It contains many pages of planners and calendars, so that you can carefully plan the holiday season according to your lifestyle. You’ll feel more in control, even though your body doesn’t always cooperate.
  4. Plunging forward into the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons can be fun! Yes, there are going to be a few pity-parties and near-meltdowns. Don’t beat yourself up when you need to crash or go to bed for a while. This is just part of our Chronic Life and there’s no need to feel guilty. But, plunging in with our whole heart makes life more joyful. Remember, Joy to the World, the Lord has come, and this alone brings me joy.
  5. Knowing that I have choices gives me confidence that I’ll have many smiles on my face during the next two months. Knowing that I’ll have some frowns and tears (well, maybe not tears with Sjogren’s) during the next two months is a logical result of stress. I won’t blame myself if I can’t cook everything for parties like I did when I was healthier. Bringing a pie or vegetable plate from your local grocer is just fine. Knowing that I can say No is powerful. Knowing that each holiday will come whether I’m a perfect host may feel terrifying, but it’s really not. We have to ask for help and know that we are worthy of smiling through the holidays, no matter what.

I hope you’ll enjoy the next two months and remember to smile, because the holidays are about giving thanks and celebrating the birth of Christ. It doesn’t have to drag us down with expectations that are superficial. Create your own plan and enjoy the love of family and friends. That’s enough.

@2019, copyright Lisa Ehrman

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14 Responses

  1. Sheryl says:

    Thanks for sharing your Nov plans, thoughts and resources with us, Lisa! I hope you get to enjoy your holidays with your loved ones as much as possible! x

  2. I agree, we need to make sure we are careful scheduling things by making certain things a priority and letting go of what we don’t feel well enough for.

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks, Jacqueline. It sounds like you have some good experience with this. Thanks for sharing and the encouraging words 🙂

  3. What an adorable Christmas Shopping Planner! I especially love the Christmas Card Organizer. I really can’t do as much shopping as I once did, but sending out meaningful cards is on my bucket list for 2019. Hope that you have a beautiful season with the family. Thanks for sharing.

    • Lisa says:

      Aww… thank you 🙂 Christmas cards are so much fun to give and receive. It’s something I can do easily in my recliner. I hope you also have a lovely season!

  4. Niamh says:

    Such a thoughtful gift to share the planner with us Lisa thank you so much. Your post really got me in the festive spirit. I love “Joy to the world” carol but my favourite is “Drummer Boy Parupapumpum”. Take care this season and thank you for sharing your stress reduction xmas planner <3

    • Lisa says:

      I’m so glad you like the planner. Black Friday is going to be much more organized for me this year. Drummer Boy is one of my favorites, too. I hope your season is also peaceful 🙂

  5. Catherine says:

    I just read your link about the Dry Eye Syndrome – that is one my chronic pain conditions! My eye doctors tested me for Sjogren’s but decided that wasn’t the cause of all my discomfort. You are right to say we just do what we are physically and emotionally able to cope with. I have learned that it is OK to stay home and rest when I need to. Enjoy your holiday season!

    • Lisa says:

      I hope that your doctor can find a treatment to help your eyes. It’s such a miserable condition. Staying home to rest when you need it is the only way to recover. I’m doing that today, after a week of travel. I’m exhausted! I hope you have wonderful holidays, too 🙂

  6. Rhiann says:

    Hello again Lisa,

    Such a lovely and thoughtful post Lisa, it has really gotten me into the Christmas spirit, which I need as I still haven’t got round to starting my Christmas shopping yet thanks to a recent flare.

    The tips you have shared for a less stressful and for a Christmas to still enjoy with less spoons are really useful.

    I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season!

    Rhiann x

    • Lisa says:

      Sorry to hear about your recent flare. It’s usually impossible to get anything done (physically or mentally) during flares. I appreciate your kind comments and hope that you will have some good days and be able to enjoy the holidays.

  7. Calvin says:

    The holidays are quite the stressful times for me too. It’s especially tolling when you’re booked to the brim with things to do. I think it’s often important to take a step back and reserve some time for self-care. Smiling is important, like they say, fake it till you make it.

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