With the holidays right around the corner, you need these chronic illness holiday hacks. It is so important to plan how you are going to keep things simple and have less stress during the holidays. I am guilty of letting myself get overwhelmed by the holidays, but this year will be different.
After receiving my Bipolar 1 diagnosis this year, I have learned how important it is to weed out the non-essential things and focus my energy on what is really important. Plus, I am still waiting on my Spinal Stimulator (to get me out of this immense back pain) to be approved so I can have the surgery to implant it. That will probably happen right smack in the middle of the holiday season this year, so I have to be prepared.
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Shopping & gifts chronic illness holiday hacks
1. Shop for gifts online
Time to put your Amazon Prime Membership to work. (If you don’t already have one, you can always sign up now.) Major retailers usually have incredible free shipping deals around the holidays.
2. You Don’t have to buy little appreciation gifts for everyone
It is okay if the postal worker doesn’t get a gift this year. He/she is probably getting plenty of them from other people and won’t even notice you didn’t. I always obsess about making sure I think of everyone who helps me throughout the year-like hairdresser, garbage pickup, mechanic, pediatrician, neighbors etc. Get over it. Pick one or two people (none is perfectly okay too) and give a gift. Don’t worry about it being homemade or super thoughtful. Then next year choose another one or two people to receive appreciation gifts.
3. Spend less money and buy less gifts
Spending less will help keep your stress level down and you will save mental energy by having to buy less gifts. I am so at fault for wanting each of my kids to have multiple gifts to unwrap on Christmas morning. After I buy a gift for someone, if I find a “little something else” that would be perfect for them, I will just buy it and “throw it in” with their main gift. That adds up to extra time and money that is better used elsewhere.
4. Gift-Wrapping: Choose one roll of paper to use for all gift or use gift bags
There are so many beautiful holiday gift wrap paper rolls it can make you want to use them all. My husband loves to make sure each gift is wrapped in a different paper that we have. That takes more time than just using the same roll for all of your gifts. An even simpler way to get gifts wrapped, is to simply use holiday gift bags.
Chronic illness holiday hacks for food & cooking
5. Use premade cookie dough and store bought hot cocoa
Spending hours baking and making home-baked goods takes a lot of energy that you probably need to save for more important things. I remember watching a Martha Stewart video once and she was making homemade marshmallows. That is ridiculous to me. Jett-Puff will do along with instant hot cocoa at our house!
6. Plan a simple menu for holiday dinners
I know we all like to make “family favorite” dishes for the holidays. But that can be overwhelming and unnessecary. I suggest choosing one or two of those dishes and sticking to one main course, a veggie side dish, and one other. Throw in some frozen Sister Schubert’s Rolls if you want. Make one dessert and the rest can be store-bought holiday treats. *Note–tailor this chronic illness holiday hack to your own needs. You may not be able to cook anything and that is okay. There are plenty of places you can order a holiday meal ready to eat!
7. Use disposable Plates, cups, napkins, and utensils
I can hear the gasp you may be making right now, but it’s okay to leave the fancy dishes and china in storage this year. And yes, I know this is not the “greenest” approach, but sometimes our chronic illness requires some sacrifices.
holiday decoration hacks for chronic illness
8. Scale down the amount of holiday decorations you use
Excessive holiday decorations seems to be the new trend. Who needs 13 different trees for Christmas? And you don’t have to use all of your decorations every year. Just go by what time and energy you have this year to decide what decorations get taken out and what decorations remain stored.
9. Choose decorations that are easy to display and give you more Bang for your effort
Some of the best types of these decorations are those “net” lights you can throw on top of your bushes and trees and those cool light projectors. I am amazed at how much square footage of the front of your house is covered by just one of these projectors.
chronic illness holiday hacks for traditions & events
10. be smart and selective with holiday traditions and rituals
Usually I start the holiday season with a whole bucket list of things I feel we “need” to do. It usually starts with carving pumpkins, on to writing “thankful” cards, “sight-seeing” Christmas lights, to sitting under the tree reading our Christmas book collection. You don’t have to feel like you must do all of the traditions you have every single year. It’s okay to just pick a few and call it a day (or a holiday).
11. Decide to “just say No” to extra holiday events
I am amazed at the amount of cookie swaps, gift exchanges, and Christmas parties I am invited to every year. It is totally within good reason to simple not go to every one of them-or maybe not go to any of them in order to save your energy on the main holiday gatherings.
12. Opt out of extra holiday commitments and volunteering
You may be used to spending extra time and energy volunteering for good causes around the holidays like food drives, soup kitchens, or toy drives. Or maybe you have kids that need volunteers to run the school holiday parties. It is ok and perfectly reasonable to just say that you cannot participate-no guilt needed.
The most important chronic illness holiday hacks
13. Plan ahead
Before the holiday season begins, sit down and make a plan. Using all of the above mentioned chronic illness holiday hacks, decide what you will and won’t do this year. Write it down and commit to sticking to your plan. I promise you will feel so much better and avoid extra stress.
14. Be honest with friends and family about what you need
Once you have your holiday season plan, let your friends and family know about it. Don’t be afraid to tell them your needs because it will help them help you. And it will give them the opportunity to better understand why you may be scaling down your holiday season commitments.
15. Schedule down time and rest during the holiday season
Even though you may be dramatically scaling down what you participate in during the holidays, it is still a very hectic time. Keeping your body and mind well rested is going to make the holiday season much more enjoyable. Maybe you should create a new tradition of “holiday naps.”
Read more about enjoying the holidays with a chronic or mental illness . . .
- How to Manage the Holidays with Chronic or Mental Illness (and Keep Your Sanity)
- 11 Deeply Thoughtful Holiday Gifts for Someone with Depression (Great Ideas for Someone Special)
- 15 Awesome Arthritis Christmas Gift Ideas for Someone with Joint Pain (and Stiffness)
- 11 Treasure-Worthy Christmas Gifts for Someone with Chronic Pain (That You Would Never Think Of)
If you use these chronic illness holiday hacks, You will have less stress and more joy this holiday season.
Taking care of yourself and your individual needs should be a habit you practice all year long. When dealing with the challenges and limitations our chronic illnesses bring to the table, you have to be smart and judicious with your time and energy. I challenge you, as this holiday season approaches, to be more bold about choosing what is right for you instead of trying to keep up with the demands our society puts on us during the holiday season.