Christmas and New Years can be difficult times for spoonies. The whole holiday is packed full of messages to have fun and celebrate. To enjoy and be happy. And it's not that we are not happy. I've even said many a time that I'm wierdly the happiest I might have ever been. It's more that the increase in activity that will inevitabley happen around these times brings with it a whole heap of moments where you're reminded of the things you can't do or have difficulty doing. All in the space of a short time. And being constantly reminded like that can feel like we're being taunted.
Lying in bed because you're too ill to be downstairs and hearing everyone else as they eat Christmas dinner is strange and can make you feel left out and lonely. Or even if you cannot sit around the table as you need to have your legs up, is isolating. Not being able to open your presents by yourself or hand presents out, cut up your dinner or pull a cracker reminds you how weak you are. So you get the hint. Lots of little things all at once that can add up to a bigger overall feeling of well pantsness.
Then there's New Years where it's kind of expected you go out and party, make new years resolutions and hear all about how rubbish peoples years have been and how 'next year is going to my year.'
So how can you help yourself during these times? To keep your head above water and not feel utterly miserable.
Evaluate- Think what Christmas means to you. The nice things that is. What is it you want Christmas to be? Does it have to be a big dinner with all the trimmings? Do you need to leave the house? Do you need to play hostess?
Prioritize- All of us have to prioritize or 'juggle' over Christmas. You try and please everyone but don't want to show favouritism. But what's important is once you have evaluated what Christmas means to you that you make choices made on that decision. That may mean only spending a short time with family or only being able to go to one celebration/ dinner/ gathering/ do/ knees up. If you answered that Christmas for you is all about seeing your child(ren) excited on Christmas morning, then make that your priority. Sure you may need to negotiate in some areas but when you do bear this next pointer in mind.
Be realistic- know what you can manage. If you can't cook a full on Christmas dinner but aren't going elsewhere then ask yourself 'does it really matter?' If you have spent your spoons getting up to watch your kids open their presents who says you can't have a picnic in bed with them come dinner time. And be realistic with your family so that they know how much you can honestly handle. Your friends Christmas Eve, your family Christmas day, his family boxing day, just isn't going to work. Especially if you have New Years plans too.
Pace- I'm sure I don't need to explain this one. How many times do we hear it?Little by little. A bit at a time. Don't spend all your spoons in one go (unless you want to.)
Share your plans- tell people what you think you'll be able to manage. That way they can help you to achieve that. And they also know that you achieved what you set out to achieve and don't feel too bad for you.
Don't be down on yourself- like I said the increase in activity over Christmas and New Years can really mean being reminded more often of things we can't do or are missing out on. But remember THAT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. You will achieve what you achieve on those days. To others it might sound very little but do not judge yourself by others standards. And what you do achieve will mean more. Again remember your evaluations.
Ask for help- If you need help you can only ask. Family to help take you shopping. Going elsewhere for dinner.
If you can, and want to dress up or put on make up- if you have enough energy to spare then looking good on the outside can help you feel better emotionally. Plus, we don't really get many ocassions to wear our best clothes or just clothes that are not pyjamas. So if you have the spoons go for it. If not then save those spoons for festive cheer and sod it if that means wearing pj's it means wearing pj's.
Check in with your spoonie friends- chances are you won't be the only one stuck in bed. And whereas most of your healthy friends will not be on their phones much your spoonie pals just might be. So wish them a Merry Christmas and have a little chat. It's a definite way of not feeling so lonely if you're feeling like you're missing out.
Random Acts of Kindness/ Give to charity- At this time of year when it's easy to get carried away in the commercialism of Christmas it's good to remember that Christmas is a time for giving. Sadly there are many people that are worse off than us. So if you can think what you can give to someone. It might be a donation to charity in the form of a donation or a gift. Or buying an extra advent calendar and some extra food to give to a food bank. Helping out where you can at community Christmas dinner schemes set up so people don't have to spend Christmas alone. Donating any unwanted clothes, toiletries or toys to a homeless shelter. Going to have a cup of tea and a chat with someone in your community you know is struggling. Or it could be as simple as sending a letter to someone. Spread some cheer.
Enjoy it- whatever you end up doing over the holidays enjoy it. Yes that might be hard if you're really bad. But when you can join in relish it. When you give out your gifts take time to look at their reaction. Enjoy tucking into some yummy food. Laugh. Love. Eat.
Make resolutions you can keep- most resolutions are cursed from the get go because they simply aren't realistic. "This year is going to be my year," is always one that makes me cringe. And we can have all the will in the world but we can't always have total control over our lives. Otherwise I'd be healthy and lying next to Pasha Kovalev right now. All we can do is try and I think trying is a good resolution in itself. To adopt an I know I can't control everything but I can control my reactions and try to be happier/ more appreciative/ more body confident (insert your aim here). Having a chronic illness I know that some things are beyond my control. And I can't tell myself "next year will be better" but I can say I'm going to do my best and will take things as they come. That I will try to be happy despite the illness, because that I can have some control over. (Please note for anyone with depression/ anxiety that I know happiness isn't as simple as making a choice. That it can actually be hard work. Really hard work. And time.)
Memories jar- one way of trying to be happier overall and one that has really worked for me this year is to make a memories jar. You can read my post on it here and I will soon have a review post up. Ah that sounds scary! Seriously where has this year gone? Basically the memories jar is a jar that you put notes in and on the notes you write down anything good that happened or something funny somebody says etc. Big or small. Then at the end of the year you can open up the jar and read all the lovely things that happened throughout the year. I think it's particularly good if you don't have any plans for New Year. I don't know about anyone else but I always feel a bit funny on New Years, like you need to be making a big deal that it's the end of the year and the start of a new one. So I think this is a good and positive way to reflect and look forward to more happiness in the year to come.
I hope these tips help you through the festive period and that you are able to have some joyful times. Do take a look at last years post with more tips too What are your plans? Do you have any more tips for coping over the holidays?