Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

Taking Care of Yourself During the Holidays

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Holidays are often periods of celebration and joy, but they are also stressful. If you have lupus, it’s important to manage holiday-related stress levels. Doing so could keep a flare away.

Therefore, the challenges of any holiday season should not be taken for granted. A person might feel frustrated by their limited budget when they cannot afford to travel or buy gifts. Traveling itself is physically exhausting.

Spending time with family can be wonderful, but conflicting personalities can be emotionally draining. Hosting a holiday gathering takes work and requires a lot of energy. Feeling disconnected from friends or family can lead to an increased sense of isolation and depression.

Think About the Impact of Holidays

How do holidays impact your life? Which holidays take the biggest toll? What is it about them that is a struggle? Evaluate your relationship with holidays. Some might be easier than others. Think about the ones that are difficult and try to pinpoint what it is about them that causes the most trouble.

Plan Ahead

If you tend to cram everything in as the holidays draw near, then planning ahead and pacing yourself is key. At what point in the year do you need to start preparing for a holiday? Work backward from the date of the holiday to figure out how long things take. For example, Christmas is on December 25 of each year.

If you are hosting, how many days before the event will you need to clean your home? How much time do you need to shop for gifts without exhausting yourself? Don’t wait until the last minute to get started.

Schedule Rest Periods

Factor in that you will need extra time to manage fatigue. If you work or have a busy schedule, take a day off before the holiday in order to transition and allow your body time to recharge.

Make room for rest periods and naps during the actual holiday. When it's all over, take at least a day off to recover.

Stay in Touch With Your Feelings

Before, during, and just after any holiday, check in with yourself. Sometimes being busy or overwhelmed can mask your true emotions, and before you know it you are burnt out. At least once a day, ask yourself how you are feeling emotionally and physically. Physical symptoms are good indicators of stress. Finding a quiet place for five minutes to reflect on your well-being can make a big difference.

Pamper Yourself

With chronic illness, taking time out to pamper yourself is a prescription, not an option.  Do something loving for yourself before you feel stressed to help maintain your well-being. Do something loving for yourself when you feel stressed to help lower your stress level. Watch your favorite movie. Take a bubble bath. Take a nap. Read your favorite book. Write in your journal. Practice gratitude. Meditate. The possibilities are endless.

Check in With Loved Ones

If you have a hard time checking in with yourself, if possible, partner up with a friend, family member, or support group member who will periodically check in with you, and vice verse. You can help each other stay balanced.

Ask for Help

Don’t try to take everything on yourself. It can be hard to ask for help sometimes. Supportive loved ones often want to help but might not know how. Asking for help around the holidays, even in ways that seem small, will help them feel supportive and connected to you. In turn, you will feel less stressed.

If You Lack Support

Holidays can be particularly difficult if you feel alone. Connecting with at least one other person can make a big difference. Volunteering is a great way to both spend time with and help others. Attending a lupus support group can immediately help people feel supported, understood, and less isolated. You can find an online or in-person lupus support group by doing an Internet search.

Show Yourself Compassion

It is easy for people to be hard on themselves for not having enough money, time, or energy for a holiday. Understandably, this has to do with people’s expectation of what the experience of a certain holiday should be. But you can only do what is possible for you, and if you feel like you are unable to meet an expectation in a certain area, remember that this does not define your worth. Treat yourself with the same love and compassion that you would treat a friend in the same situation.

Think Beyond the Box

The Internet, your support group, and friends and family will have countless ideas for how you can participate in a holiday despite any money, time, energy or other challenge you face. While these challenges are frustrating, these can also be opportunities to find meaningful, new holiday traditions.

Embrace The Holiday

Remember that whether or not you have lupus, stress has a real impact on your mental and physical health. But with lupus, in order to help manage flares, it is even more important to practice ways to keep stress levels down. It's impossible to be stress-free, but putting these suggestions into practice could be a big help and leave more room for you to embrace the holidays.

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