The holiday season can be a mixed bag. One one hand, it’s a time to look forward to celebration, family & friends, delicious food, and our favorite traditions. On the other hand, it is often a time filled with stress related to prepping for visitors, buying gifts, making travel arrangements, and dealing with changes to your normal routine.
If you live with chronic pain these stressors may make your pain worse, which can in turn make the holidays harder to enjoy. Check out our tips on how to best manage your chronic pain over the holiday season.
Sleep is extremely important for our bodies to recover and rejuvenate. Decreased sleep and impaired sleep quality can cause increased pain. Paying close attention to sleep quality during the holidays can be huge. Try these tips.
- Avoid drastic changes to your normal bed time. For example: If you normally go to bed at 10pm, try not to stray too far from this, even if you have company or are visiting friends or family.
- No social media or emails before bed, it will keep your brain active.
- Limit large volumes of fluid intake in the 2 hours before bed.
Make smart nutrition choices
Making nutrition choices that help support your body during the holidays can make a big difference. By all means enjoy your favorite holiday foods, but be sure you are getting a good distribution of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. And don’t forget about your vitamins and minerals! Get these through plenty of fruits and veggies or a daily multivitamin.
You can also try adding more fruits and vegetables in your regular holiday cooking. There are so many great recipes out there to make healthier additions to our holiday classics, without sacrificing the taste. These yummy holiday cookies substitute whole wheat flour for regular flour, click the link to see the recipe!
Trying to maintain or lose weight during the holidays can also increase stress. Check out our blog post written by Registered Dietician/Nutritionist Kay Williams on Ten Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating Without Derailing Diet
Schedule time for yourself
Schedules can get crazy during the holiday season. Making time for yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes, can help decrease stress and which in turn helps moderate pain. Try things like taking an extra long shower or bath, going for a walk, or just setting aside some quiet time to journal, meditate, practice mindfulness, or read.
Misunderstood expectations can lead to increased stress and conflict. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of tasks you have to get done, especially if your pain is increasing or limiting you, ask your friends and family for help. Let them know you are doing your best, but that you may ask for some assistance if your pain is starting to increase. Split up tasks for bigger events or get-togethers so you don’t have do it all.
If you’re visiting family or friends, let them know if there is something that makes you more comfortable. Do you sleep best with a certain temperature at night? Do you need more pillows to position yourself comfortably? Is it best to have hot packs or cold packs on hand for a particularly bad day? It doesn’t hurt to communicate about these accommodations that could significantly improve your comfort and ability to enjoy the holidays.
Simple concept, but can be hard to do during the holidays. Try alternating yummy drinks with a glass of water, especially if you’re at a holiday party. If you’re out and about running errands, make sure to fill up a bigger water bottle to take with you. Spend a few minutes to rest and re-hydrate between stores.
We know this may be the hardest, especially when dealing with chronic pain. You may get enough activity from running errands, doing things around the home, or traveling, and that’s okay. It’s important to understand your boundaries and your body’s ability to handle things outside your normal routine.
If you’re able, try keeping up with activities like going on walks, doing stretches or movements that feel good, or light strengthening exercises. Encouraging family or group activities can be a great way to build in activity when you’re visiting with friends or family.
We hope these tips were helpful! Compleo wishes you a happy and safe holiday season!