Overcoming Chronic Illness Frustration This Holiday SeasonDec 14, 2023
It’s not fair. Living with chronic illness often leaves you feeling robbed of the simple joys of being well, especially during the holiday season.
I constantly wrestle with the thoughts and worries that MS and stage 4 breast cancer bring. These can intensify with the added pressures this time of year brings.
Can you relate to the flurry of questions that race through your mind when facing a Christmas function? The kind of function that should be joyful, not overwhelming.
Here's what runs through my mind:
- Will I have enough energy?
- Can I find a parking spot close enough?
- Will there be seats, or will I need to lean against something?
- What to wear when comfort is key – it's runners again!
- Navigating dietary needs with my sensitive stomach, making sure there's a nearby restroom due to my MS, and hoping there aren't too many stairs.
- Contemplating if staying home would be easier, both emotionally and physically.
- Feeling overwhelmed and wishing for a simpler life without these constant challenges.
Do these concerns and internal dialogues sound familiar to you? Does planning every outing with your chronic illness feel like a strategic mission?
Chronic Illness Mindset Reminder
I take a deep breath and remind myself, "Enough, STOP!" It's time for a reality check. Yes, living with MS and now stage 4 cancer is undeniably tough. And after a year like this – marked by the return of my cancer and two single mastectomies – I deserve to enjoy some festive cheer.
Choosing to stay home and miss out on the holiday festivities would do little for my emotional and mental well-being. Now is the moment to transition from frustration to empowerment.
This journey isn't unfamiliar to me. Having lived with chronic illness for more than half of my life, I've been repeatedly faced with a critical decision:
Give in to negativity and frustration or actively seek ways to cultivate joy in my life, irrespective of the hurdles.
In my recent blog post, Managing Christmas Stress with Chronic Illness I explored how the Hurdle2Hope® Roadmap helps you to harness your strength during stressful times.
But the journey doesn’t stop there. The next step is about moving forward, taking back your power, and truly enjoying the days leading up to Christmas.
3 Tips to Help you Regain your Power
Recognising that you have the power to shift your perspective and approach is crucial, especially in the face of the complexities of living with a chronic illness.
Regaining Your Power is more than just a concept; it's an active, conscious decision to not let your illness dictate your holiday experience.
To effectively regain your power and release frustration, consider these practical strategies:
- Transform Agitation into Positive Action: Chronic illness often brings frustration. Instead of succumbing to this agitation, use it to fuel positive change. Ask yourself a simple question: Am I okay with missing out, or am I ready to try a different approach? At this stage, it boils down to a clear yes or no.
- Clarify What Matters Most: Take a moment to think about what truly matters to you this festive season. At this point, it's about recognising your priorities rather than getting bogged down in the small details. Is it the restaurant you go to, or the people you want to catch up with?
- Live in Alignment: As the holiday season gets busy, it's crucial to focus on tasks that truly align with your priorities. Remember, your 'To Do' list should mirror what's most important to you during this time.
I recently worked with a client on this very issue. We tackled the overwhelm of year-end work by prioritising tasks based on what was essential in the moment. This approach of aligning actions with true priorities is key to managing energy and reducing stress effectively.
NOTE: For more guidance on these activities, download the "Dealing with Holiday Season STRESS: It’s as Easy as 1, 2, 3!" Guide.
Implementing these simple tips can reshape your holiday season, enabling you to regain your power and experience joy despite the challenges posed by chronic illness.
This blog explores how to handle the frustration often accompanying chronic illness during the festive season. By consciously choosing to focus on what matters most and aligning your actions accordingly, you can regain control over your experience. The key strategies include:
- Transforming agitation into positive action to drive change
- Clarifying what truly matters to prioritise joy over stress
- Living in alignment with your true priorities to minimise unnecessary stress
These approaches are designed to help you navigate the holiday season with a sense of empowerment. For additional guidance and practical activities, be sure to download the "Dealing with Holiday Season STRESS: It’s as Easy as 1, 2, 3!" guide below.