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3 Tips for Facing the Holidays with a Chronic Illness

Holidays can be stressful. When you have a chronic illness, that stress can be enhanced. It's important to enter the season prepared. With a chronic illness like Multiple Sclerosis, symptoms can often worsen in cold weather so having a plan in place can be a lifesaver.

Travel is usually a big part of the holidays, which can be the toughest part of holiday illness management. This year, many people are not traveling -- but there is still plenty to consider, even if you are just meeting up with your small pod of people.

  1. Stick to a schedule. One reason people feel out of sorts on breaks is because they get out of routine. Sleep schedules and activity levels are off, which can cause more fatigue than normal. Write down a typical daily schedule and then try to work your holiday plans around ensuring you can basically stick to the norms.

  2. Pay attention to nutrition. December is a time for cookies, sure, but if you skip past the fruits and veggies all together, you could be asking for a body breakdown. Our bodies thrive when we feed them well, so be intentional about regularly eating those nourishing foods that protect your health. Fill in a daily calendar and insert when and what you will make sure you eat!

  3. Create boundaries. We all need boundaries when it comes to our family members. When you are dealing with a chronic illness, it's more important than ever to stick to them. If you need to rest, take a break or cut out early, that is okay. Set yourself up for success by knowing your exit routes and even having responses ready if someone pushes back. Some people do not understand the toll a chronic illness can take on the mind and body. You are responsible for you and do not need to feel bad if someone else is upset.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of ideas, but perhaps a few things you can bring with you as you spend time with friends or family this week. Some of ideas are good for other stressful times in life, as well. When you have a chronic illness, you must prioritize yourself and your health first. That is how the pieces of life will best fit together.

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