The holidays – that time of year when common sense, calm and rest flies out the window even faster than the money from your wallet – are upon us. If you are like most people with Fibro, you will have two things on your mind: how to do it all (and to perfection, thank you), and how to get through it all without a painful fibro-flare. Here are a few simple tips that may enable you to thoroughly enjoy the holidays.
1. Choose. What is truly important, what is ‘nice if you can, but okay if you can’t’, and what are the ‘shoulds’ (that you really shouldn’t if you are being kind to yourself)? Make a list, check it twice -and then delete at least twenty per cent of the activities.
You’ll still have too many items on your list, so now what?
2. Delegate. Get help with the house preparations, either from family members or hire it out. It may be truly important to you and your family to have a huge sit-down dinner, but does that mean that it has to be at your home, or that you will be both chief cook and bottle washer? Try something a little different – a participatory holiday! Think outside the ‘tradition’ box – what is possible? Perhaps each family member could contribute a dish, or maybe you could hand the ‘family dinner’ torch over to the next generation so they can build their own traditions. Then all you’ll have to do is sit back and enjoy! And no, it won’t be the same, but change is fabulous when it means you won’t have as much pain and agitation and that you can actually enjoy yourself.
3. Maintain a steady blood sugar level. Welcome to the season of rushing about and eating whatever is conveniently at hand in the moment. Forget regular meals – enter the cocktail parties! Over-indulgence focuses on fats (chips and dip), sugary sweets, that wonderful food group, chocolate and, for some, alcohol. You will be tempted, but DON’T DO IT! It is possible to indulge and give your body the high quality fuel it needs to function, but it does involve preparation and mindfulness. Prepare meals and snacks ahead of time and carry them with you if necessary. If you must have chocolate (seriously, don’t we all?), get yourself a high quality organic dark chocolate bar and carry it in your purse. One little square goes a long way if you choose to savour it mindfully rather than inhale.
4. Protect your sleep routine. You need your sleep. Period. Your body doesn’t know or care that it is the holidays and that all regular routines traditionally go out the window – it wants and needs the time to repair itself and it WILL have a hissy fit if it doesn’t get what it wants. Arrange your schedule around the needs of your body, and not the other way around.
5. Keep warm. Dress for the weather. A plushy sweater might not be quite the look you are going for, but would you rather wear a glitzy spaghetti strapped top and suffer muscle spasms, aches and pains for days? Besides, be honest: goose bumps, blue lips, chattering teeth and shivers aren’t really all that attractive. Sensible can be stunning, so ‘plush up’ and be free to speak intelligibly, laugh and enjoy yourself.
Have you had a wonderful time and are now too charged up to get to sleep?
6. Find a soothing decaffeinated herbal tea to serve as a signal to relax and sleep – and drink it. Many people like blends that incorporate Chamomile, Lemon Balm or Passion Flower; my current favourite is Egyptian Licorice. Hint: if you are tempted to try a new blend but are concerned about whether or not you’ll like it: sniff it with your mouth open.. within moments, you’ll have a faint taste of it on your tongue. Really!
7. Add in a relaxing bath, and you’re almost ready to drift off to sleep. Add a few drops each of high quality organic Ylang Ylang and Frankincense essential oils to a cup of epsom salts. Hint: the easiest and least messy way to do this is to put the epsom salts into a baggy, add the essential oil drops, seal the bag, and smoosh it up to distribute the oils through the salts. Add the salts AFTER filling your tub with nicely-warm water; swish them around to dissolve, and then climb in for a wee soak. You’ll be glad you did! The magnesium from the epsom salts will help with muscle pain and stiffness, Frankincense essential oil deepens the breath, and Ylang Ylang is so relaxing that one should never drive after sniffing it. Great combo for sleeping!
8. One last thing before drifting off to sleep: put on a pair of bedsocks. Anecdotal evidence is that, for some reason, people sleep more soundly when their feet are warm. Anything that can interfere with the Alpha-Delta sleep anomaly of Fibro (where alpha brain waves intrude on delta sleep and prevent the deep sleep necessary for body repair) is worth a try!
What small changes can you make that will result in huge benefits to your well-being?
Wishing you healing blessings and a safe, joy-filled holiday season.