Holiday season is not an easy time to live with chronic illness. Many of us find that when we are sick, social obligations are extremely difficult to deal with. We want to be close to our family and loved ones, but we have so little energy that it is very hard to participate. Being afraid to provoke further pain flares may lead us to set boundaries and say no to practically all social engagements, but it's hard to enjoy staying at home when everybody else is out sharing the good cheer.
What with the brain fog that often comes with living with chronic pain, plus the effects of stress on our pain levels, good holiday planning is simply a must, so here are a few project management tools that can help you make this holiday season as pain-free as possible:
1. Making a timeline of the weeks from now until New Years, and placing all the dates when stuff is happening helps to get a visual overview of the whole period.
2. Think about what's most important both for your physical and emotional health during the holidays, and then select the activities that are most important to do and the events that you choose to participate in. If it's hard to prioritize you can make a chart where you graph your options to see clearer.
3. Write all your To Dos below the timeline, so you get a neat list of things to do every week from now until the holiday is over.
4. Making a mind map for the christmas gift list may help to make sure you're not forgetting anyone. If you write christmas cards, plan to take a quiet break every day when you write a couple cards in stead of doing a mad rush. If writing is a big strain, send e-cards or sms greetings in stead. It's the thought that counts.
5. Plan time for resting and self care, book it in your calendar and make sure there's a good break in between every planned activity. If you're planning to travel or stay with family, make flare-preventing preparations by talking about what you need in advance, make sure you pack your health tools and extra meds just in case.