To navigate the ups and downs of Crohn’s disease, I try to be positive while being realistic about my illness and how I feel. Today is going to be one of those honest days.
Here it goes:
I HATE the holiday season. It’s not always the most wonderful time of the year.
It starts with Halloween, and the funk just deepens the closer it gets to Christmas. I don’t want to put up a tree or lights. It’s a good year when I can manage to send cards. The shopping and the money stresses me out.
The months of November and December have not been historically good for my family. My mother passed on Christmas Eve almost 24 years ago. My father passed right before Thanksgiving three years ago. My husband’s grandmother passed away last November. November is also the anniversary of my diagnosis with Crohn’s disease (24 years this year).
It’s also hard to keep up with the demands of the season. So many events to attend. Christmas shopping, even online (and it’s always online), takes a lot of time and energy. The cold weather worsens my joint pain. The stress usually makes my Crohn’s flare. I just want to sleep until January.
I hadn’t realized how much working full-time kept me somewhat sane this time of year. Even with all the holiday brouhaha, I stayed on an even keel because I had coding to keep me distracted. Without a job, I may have more time to rest, but I also have more time – if I’m being really honest – to be a raging bitch.
I put my foot down. I didn’t want to spend the next two weeks feeling this dark. Here are five ways I care for myself to make getting through the holiday season easier.
Enjoy Happy Movies and Shows
I love documentaries. I can watch them all day. But lately all I’ve watched are documentaries and shows about natural disasters. No more for a while. And no all-day Investigation Discovery marathons either. I’m going to dig out my Love Actually disc and watch it a few times instead.
Say Hello to the Sun
A lot of people don’t believe Seasonal Affective Disorder is real, but I’m positive it is. I dread the time change every Autumn, because I know the shorter days affect my moods. The last couple of weeks have been rainy, cloudy, and cold. Yesterday, the sun was bright for a few hours, and I felt so much better. I am going to seek out the sunshine whenever I can.
Get Out of Those Jammies
When you’re depressed, one of the first things you let slide is your appearance. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a girly girl. I don’t wear makeup, and my business-appearing yoga pants are as dressy as I get. But when I’m down, I look it. And now that I don’t work outside the home, I don’t have to get out of my jammies if I don’t want to. I am going to fake it ’til I make it. I may feel awful, but I’m going to get dressed, comb my hair, and put some nice lotion on my face every morning.
Don’t Do Life Alone
The holiday season is not happy for everyone. If you find yourself struggling, reach out to someone who understands. Family and friends are often busy with their own holiday to-do lists, but be honest with them that you need some company or an ear to bend. Turn to your church family. Volunteer to serve other people at a soup kitchen or community center. One of the best things I did was help pack dinners for needy families on Thanksgiving morning. Sometimes helping someone else helps you, too.
This is the most important. I need to pray more. Listen to some worship music. Read an uplifting book. (I cannot recommend Through the Eyes of a Lion by Levi Lusko enough.) My faith gets me through the bad times, and I sometimes need a reminder. If you aren’t a religious person, meditate. Meditate if you are. Center yourself to something. For me, that’s Jesus.
Making self-care a priority is difficult this time of year, but it’s so necessary. What have you done to make the holiday season less stressful?