The Holidays are a stressful, busy time. There is no way around it. The way that I like to get a handle on everything is by pacing myself. I try to block out everyone and everything and complete one specific job. My multiple sclerosis shows up when too much is happening at once, and I have difficulty concentrating on more than one task at a time. If I make a holiday list and really break it down to assigned days, then theoretically I can reduce my stress level. OK, this is coming from someone who just put the Halloween decorations away!
Besides composing a holiday-to-do-list for myself, I also try to delegate some of the responsibility. If there is a gadget that my husband can order online, or if my sister is going to a store that I need something at, I ask for a hand. I allow myself to ask for help. It is fine to do so. One year in December, when I had a bunch of friends over, I asked for help with my present wrapping. We all pitched in, had some wine, and my holiday wrapping was finished in a jiffy. I will be forever grateful. This Thanksgiving was wonderful too because we all shared in the responsibility. All I had to do was supply two appetizers and help with the clean up. It was much more doable, and I actually enjoyed the day.
Another trick, that took me way too long to learn, is like Nancy Reagan says, "just say NO!" It is so easy to be inundated with requests. Would you mind... We need a volunteer for... Can you help with... Not everyone may know that you have MS and it is ultimately your decision to say "yes" or "no". My advice is to say "yes" only to the things that you are interested in doing. As a photographer, I know what it's like to be pulled in many directions. I know that some requests are not very time consuming, but when you add a bunch of them together they take up all of my free time. I have to stop and ask myself what exactly I'm doing. I know that I'm a happier mother and wife when I say "no". I have more time to do something that I want or need to do, like go to the gym.
Taking care of yourself is the best gift you can give to your family. If you have to, play the MS stress card and say NO to anything that is not a priority in your life. Do say YES to what you are passionate about. You and I can get through the Holidays with more energy and less stress.
Published On: November 27, 2007