December brings with it a whole plethora of events which many of us (including myself) find both mentally and physically taxing. I find it hard to say no at the best of times and usually I end up feeling more exhausted than I did prior to the holiday break. Now please don't think I'm a total Grinch because despite the fact it takes me a while to feel festive, I do love the fact I get to spend time with loved ones and stuff my face.
However, I do have to make sure that I'm prepared for a busy time and listed below are the steps I follow to ensure I look after myself over the festive period:
Vitamins and supplements: If you're in the UK like me, you'll know that vitamin D is severely lacking due to the days being shorter so I tend to take this daily, as well as vitamin C and turmeric. It's just an easy way to help your immune system stay strong, especially when you know you're going to be busy.
Know your limits: Nobody knows your body better than you do but it's always good to reflect on when you think enough is enough. This might mean splitting seeing family and/or friends rather than doing it all at once or vice versa or knowing when to call it a day and retreat. I think about what I can do on normal day and then try and work out how much time that'll give me when festive activities are applied.
Rest, rest, rest: Self explanatory but seriously, rest because otherwise you'll burn out. I'm particularly partial to a nap over the festive period just to try and keep myself feeling relatively human.
Delegate! A big problem I have is that I try to do everything myself and then get seriously stressed as a result. Last year I made sure that I delegated my to-do list and by doing so I immediately reduced the pressure I had put on myself to get everything done. (I was also able to give jobs to people that I don't like doing... Like peeling sprouts.)
'No' is a full sentence: This perhaps applies more to family and friends who are being pushy or not understanding that your chronic illness can limit what you can do. But, it's okay to say no and it's okay to say no without giving further justification.
Agree in advance a time to leave or ask others to leave: I find doing this helps me conserve and use my energy, plus it's good to think about what those boundaries are for yourself.
Have a safe word/phrase: Somewhat linked to above really but if you find you've mentally and/or physically had enough then saying a pre-agreed phrase or word is a subtle way of saying you've had enough and can exit accordingly without having to have any awkward conversations.
Stock up the flare kit: Make sure you've got all the things to hand that help you get through a flare. Painkillers, tens machine, muscle balm... My go to items are included in this list.