By Cathy Chapman, MSA Coalition Patient Representative

Holidays can be very difficult and emotional for many people. It brings to the forefront all of the things we can no longer do that made past traditions so special for ourselves and for our family and friends. There are a few things you can do to help make this season a happy one.

Reflect on Special Moments

Reflecting on memories of the past and what meant the most to you may help to clarify what you want from this holiday.

  • What am I most grateful for?
  • What is most meaningful?
  • Loved ones in your life?

The answer to these questions can set the stage for how you wish to spend your holiday.

Communicate with Family and Friends

Talk with family and friends in advance about a plan that will also include your needs, in needing to rest, what you can eat and how much time you are physically able to participate in.

Be Proactive in Caring for Yourself

  • Be mindful of limitations (you know best)
  • Rest before and after planned festivities
  • Be mindful of how you are feeling
  • Ask for help. Family and friends want to help. This is a gift to them.
  • Break up the festivities to allow for periods of rest so not to get over fatigued
  • Use a wheelchair to conserve energy
  • Stay hydrated

No Apology Necessary

It is very easy to apologize for having to decline an invitation, canceling at the last moment, coming late, leaving early from a gathering, or excusing yourself to take needed rest. Instead of saying “I’m sorry,” say “thank you for understanding.” Your illness is not your fault.

Plan for Staying Connected When You Can’t Be At An Event

One way to stay connected with your loved ones or friends that will be attending the event that you are unable to attend is having them take pictures or videos to share with you.
If you are not able to be with family and friends, a planned phone call or FaceTime with them can change what could have been a difficult day to one of joy and gratitude.

Make Your Surroundings Extra Special

Having to stay indoors is very isolating but I’ve found that by decorating with my most cherished decorations, having a cup of hot cocoa, watching classic holiday movies, reading a favorite book, listening to my favorite music or audiobook brings me comfort and enjoyment.

However you choose to spend your holiday, I wish you joy, peace and cherished memories.