Helloooo-ho ho ho! ‘Tis the season for fairy lights, pfeffernusse cookies and mulled wine by the fireplace (or by the heat lamps at the pub)! Those that know me will know that I basically lose my mind for the month of December. I put cinnamon in everything and I make festive puns at every opportunity. With that in mind, I wanted to talk about something that can be easy to forget with all the excitement of the Christmas season. Managing your disability, or helping a loved one to manage, during the holiday season can be a challenge. But there are some easy steps you can take to ensure you can make the most of this fun-filled time of year.
- Plan ahead! During the Christmas period, schedules can go totally out the window and time seems to pass in the blink of an eye. It can be easy to forget things like medication and physiotherapy exercises, or put them off until later when you know you’ve got something exciting to go and do. But making time is paramount to surviving the Christmas season in one piece! I live my life by ‘to do’ lists and I find that writing them as soon as I wake up for the day ahead is a great way to ensure I don’t forget anything (or try to avoid it…)
- Don’t over commit! Accepting limitations is not something that anyone wants to or should have to do; but unfortunately, it is a fact of life for many of us. I have a very hard time saying no – whether it’s not wanting to disappoint people or being so excited to do the outing/activity that I don’t take time to think about the practicalities – which can get me into some tricky situations over the Christmas period. Overcommitting myself can lead to being overwhelmed, both physically and mentally, which isn’t fun for me or the people I end up having to cancel on. Try to get used to saying ‘Can I let you know later?’, instead of committing instantly. Give yourself that extra time to check your schedule and think about whether you can handle the extra commitment.
- Don’t beat yourself up. No one can do everything. Even Clark Kent and Superman need to share the workload! If you do end up with a bit too much on your plate, it can be upsetting to have to cancel or reschedule plans. But try not to be too hard on yourself! Your health must always take priority, there will always be time to make new plans. It may be disappointing, but your real friends/family will understand and won’t hold something like rescheduling some plans against you!
- Save your spoons! I am a fiercely independent person and I will often do absolutely everything to avoid asking others for help. But especially around the holidays, swallowing your pride and asking for a bit of help can be the difference between having the energy to go to my evening plans or being so knackered I need to go to bed at 5pm. Pick your battles and ask for help when you need it!
- Christmas Day (aka the marathon). Even if you aren’t hosting Christmas, it can be a back-breaking day. Pacing yourself is key to making it through this marathon day. Discuss the plan for the day ahead of time with your family. Factoring in agreed breaks in between travelling, opening presents, lunch etc. can allow you time to rest and recover for the next activity (or the next mince pie!)
- Treat yo self! Practicing self-care is something that I am terrible at doing. I work very hard to make sure everyone else in my life is happy and taken care, then I always forget to stop and be kind to myself. When you have a disability, it’s often about pulling yourself up by the boot straps and ploughing on ahead, which means self-care falls by the wayside. Christmas is the time where I try to make an extra effort to take care of myself and my emotions. From stealing a few minutes to do a bit of meditation in the evening or enjoying a long lavish bubble bath, it all makes a difference! Just remember; you deserve it!
This will be the last post until the New Year! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Check back in January for our next guest post.