December is a month that can bring fear to the heart of every person with chronic illness. Why? Because, it’s hard enough to get anything done during normal days, but the Christmas season is much more demanding of our energies.
Energy is a rare commodity for me, and probably for you. In times of stress, like the Christmas season, it’s so important to be organized and pace yourself. Even good stress like holiday activities can cause exhaustion and flares. We need to organize ourselves and spread out our list of to-dos.
The only way that I can try to survive my extra workload is to have times to get alone and focus on relaxing. When I’m up shopping, trimming the tree, or cooking, all my muscles tense up and my back pain becomes severe.
We need to plan out our Self-Care time just as we plan our chores or events on the calendar. And, that’s why I’m offering this December Self-Care Challenge to all of you. I want you to find ways to take care of yourself during this beautiful, but hectic time of year.
Before you look at the list of ideas for Self-Care, ask yourself what helps you to feel relaxed, pampered, or rested. Then, you may want to look for those types of things to try in your challenge. You’ll think of other special ways to take care of yourself, just by looking at my list and brainstorming.
- Take a nice bath and add your favorite thing: epson salts, fizzy bombs, bubbles, essential oils….
- Pour your favorite herbal tea and get comfortable reading a new book.
- Light a candle and just breathe. Listen to your favorite style of music (it doesn’t have to be a Christmas song).
- Does humor revitalize your spirits? Watch a funny movie.
- Sit on your porch and watch nature. If it’s too cold, just watch the squirrels and birds from inside.
- Sleep. Forget power naps. Just curl up and take a wonderful nap.
- Go look at Christmas lights. Drive around with family or friends, and bring the hot cocoa with you.
- Make sure to focus on your eating. Eating a bad diet will wear you down and you need energy to keep going.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Write a poem or just spend time journaling.
- Draw or paint a picture.
- Color in a coloring book. You can use one of the newer adult coloring books or just team up with a 3-year old and enjoy the fun.
- Do the Christmas Classics make you feel young again? Watch lots of childhood favorite Christmas movies.
- Do you prefer the feel-good romances? Watch (all) the Hallmark or Lifetime Christmas movies.
- If you feel good in the sunshine, take advantage of nice weather and go outside. Take a walk, if you can.
- If you feel better without the sun, turn off the bright lights and just enjoy the ambiance of a candle-lit room.
- Get help. Ask your children, husband, mother, friend, anyone to help you with trimming the tree and other big jobs. Many people will help if they know you need it.
- Are you able to exercise? Ask someone to join you. It will make the time pass by more quickly and you’ll smile more.
- Get a massage. If it’s too expensive, ask a family member to rub what hurts.
- Paint your fingernails or toenails. Choose a favorite color or go for a Christmasy theme!
- Call or face-time someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
- Enjoy an indulgence. Order a Grande-whatever and get the whipped cream.
- When I was little, my siblings and I sat near the Christmas tree and gazed at the tree lights, daydreaming and listening to Christmas carols. It was so peaceful. It still is. Try it 🙂
- Attend a Christmas concert.
- Stay home on Black Friday. If you want to shop, just order in your pajamas, while you eat leftovers.
- Do anything by candlelight.
- Practice saying “no”. You can’t do everything and it’s ok to say no. Practice saying a gentile, kind, and firm “no”. That’s good.
- Dig out all those beauty products under the sink and give yourself a home facial.
- Watch old family movies.
- If you can afford it, hire someone to: clean your home, decorate your home, wrap presents, or whatever you need. If you can’t, pace yourself. Don’t try to wrap all your gifts in one sitting.
- Get a babysitter and go to a movie.
- Turn off your electronics and play a board game.
- Start working on a puzzle. Don’t worry if you never finish it.
- Watch a football game while eating nachos.
- Plan one thing that you can do to help someone else.
- Drink a fruit smoothie
- Discuss with your family what you can and can not do during the month of December. Get everyone on the same page and be positive. Unmet expectations will just cause stress and negativity.
- Be grateful for what you can do, and not what you’ll be missing.
- Don’t miss doctor’s appointments. But, do something that relaxes you afterwards. Remember the candles!
What are your favorite self-care rituals? It’s hard to make yourself a priority, but dealing with chronic illness makes it even more important. Have a wonderful Self-Care Challenge!
@2019, copyright Lisa Ehrman