What you need to successfully manage the holidays with a chronic or mental illness.
As the holiday season approaches, I know I am going to have to prepare and make a plan for successfully managing the holidays with my chronic and mental illnesses. Since being diagnosed with Bipolar 1 disorder earlier this year, I realize how practicing self-care is going to keep me from relapsing into another manic episode. And that self-care is about my physical, emotional, and mental well-being. The holidays can absolutely wreck your well-being if you are not smart about the way you manage the holidays with a chronic or mental illness.
I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Self-Work with Dr. Margaret Rutherford, and she had some excellent tips for managing the holidays with a chronic illness (or mental illness.)
Read my full list of Bing-Worthy Mental Health Podcasts for Mental Illness Warriors.
Follow these tips to successfully manage the holidays with a chronic or mental illness to limit stress and experience more joy.
1. Honoring where you are in life is key to managing the holidays with a chronic or mental illness successfully.
-change your expectations of yourself during the holidays
-Give Yourself options
Some years are harder than others. Maybe you experienced the death of a loved one, or maybe you are in the middle of a tough struggle with a mental illness. The holidays don't always come at the right time. It's okay to not be okay during the holiday season.
2. keep up with self-care
-Know your limits
-Plan time for rest
Successfully managing the holidays with a chronic or mental illness hinges upon taking care of yourself first. This is not being selfish. We all have physical, mental, and emotional needs that we should continually take care of to be the healthiest. Hopefully you already have a self-care routine and know what you need.
3. Come up with a plan to successfully manage the holidays with a chronic or mental illness
-DECIDE WHICH HOLIDAY traditions/RITUALS BEST FIT YOUR NEEDS THIS YEAR
Having a plan going in to the holiday season is going to set you up for success as well as lower your stress and anxiety. Take a step back, consider all of your options, and create a plan that you will commit to sticking to it.
4. Let your family and friends know what you need to stay healthy this holiday season
-Don't be afraid to ask for help
-don't feel guilty.
You may be embarrassed or afraid to be honest with friends and family about exactly where you are. Your friends and family want to support you in whatever you are going through. Let them. And, if for some reason they don't understand and are not supportive, then keep them at arm's length and bow out of gatherings with them.
Setting yourself up for successfully managing the holidays with a chronic or mental illness, will take honesty, courage, and commitment. Don't allow yourself to fall into the trap of feeling like you have to do everything for everyone because it is the holiday season. Sometimes keeping the holidays simple and scaled-down is exactly what you need.