“People change when they realize they have the potential to change things.” Paulo Coelho
Here we are again approaching what many people feel is one of the most stressful periods of the year although its intention by design is to be one of a joy. Adding a chronic illness to the mix can make things more volatile even in the best of circumstances.
As a neurologist, this was always the season I dreaded because I knew that I would have to take care of many sick people whose depression, loneliness, hopelessness, and general stress invariably exacerbated an underlying chronic illness causing them to decompensate.
In order to avoid this scenario- the following should be considered.
Have a plan
This means you have to be realistic about your health and family situation. If traveling is difficult ask members of family to come over to your place instead. If this causes too much chaos or is not feasible for others to travel either then consider gathering with close friends or a smaller gathering with loved ones.
As most of us that live with chronic illnesses will attest to the fact that mornings are usually not our best time. So don’t kill yourself trying to have everything ready by lunch time. Take your time, and ask to meet later in the day when you are more likely to be at your best to enjoy the fellowship. Focus on fewer but more meaningful interactions. This way if you have trouble speaking you can more easily focus on one on one conversation. Make sure to maintain eating and medication schedule throughout the holidays.
Do things that make you Happy
This year my family and I have decided that instead of rushing to see other relatives, not knowing how I will feel that day while feeling pressured not to let anyone down especially since those members have schedule constraints, we will leisurely arise and enjoy a meal at home. I love watching the Macy’s parade, this year I plan to enjoy it in my p.j.’s sipping some hot cocoa with my daughter and nephew by my side.
Rethink the Big Picture
Before you commit to anything, ask yourself what are the pros and cons of doing whatever it is you are doing? Will these activities give you purpose and joy or leave you more frustrated and worn out? Or worse cause you to decompensate physically? Having a clear purpose in mind can be extremely gratifying as well as help reduce stress and burden brought on by PD. My main purpose now is spending as much time as possible with my daughter who will be leaving for college soon. Making her happy and enjoying her company is my principal motivator for making this season the best ever.
Find your purpose to enjoy the holidays this season which will leave you not only with great memories but a sense of well-being.
BEST GIFTS ARE THE ONES THAT SPARKLE!!!! So let your inner DIVA sparkle this holiday season!
Painting by Ross Webb
all rights reserved by Maria De Leon