RA & Holiday Stress: Enjoying The Holidays In Spite Of RA

Vanessa Collins Health Guide

    Every year I see stories in the newspaper and magazines about the stress of the holidays. It seems that many people have a hard time emotionally and physically this time of year.


    Add RA to the mix, and many of us have a tough time trying to enjoy the traditions of our culture and families. I am a great believer in plans. If I have a “plan”, I feel as though I have just a bit of control, and that makes me feel much better.


    Do you have a plan for the holidays? For instance, have you decided how your time will be spent? How much time will you spend with your family, your friends, your co-workers?

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    Many of us have financial stress to deal with, especially this time of year. I have a budget I try to adhere to, but I am not always successful. Still, once again, it is a plan, a guideline of sorts.


    I have found over the years, that sometimes the most simple present is the most appreciated. Something made by the giver often has special significance, and is often treasured for years to come. Presents don't have to cost a lot of money.


    We all have the option of shopping online, and that can be a great choice. If you do decide to go out into the stores this time of year, try to conserve your energy. Use the carts provided by many retailers. I use these often, and am so thankful for them because they allow me to spend more than five minutes shopping.


    I also like to go shopping on “off” hours. Nothing like talking a long, long nap and then shopping at two in the morning in the stores that are open that time of day. It can actually be fun!


    Many of us get so busy this time of year, we forget to take our medications on time. This is a sure way to wreck our holiday plans. We must put our health first. Please make this one of your priorities this year.


    Sometimes our families put undue pressure on us to be with them at a certain time and to stay longer than we know we should. Please don't fall victim to this type of coercion. Many of our family members do not understand how important it is for us to get an appropriate amount of rest. In addition to that, we don't need the “guilt” they sometimes try to lay on our heads.


    My husband and I are invited to my mother-in-law's house for Christmas day. My mother-in-law doesn't really understand my RA or my limitations. She lives an hour and a half away from our home.


    My husband and I have already decided that we will try to attend. After all, we want to attend this family dinner and celebration; however, if I am not feeling well that day, we will stay home.


    It is comforting to know that my husband does understand and does not pressure me to push beyond my limits. My mother-in-law may not understand, but she will get over it. I am not going to worry about it if we cannot make it to the family dinner this year.


    If you find yourself in a similar situation, I hope you have the strength to do what is right for you. Your health must come first. That is the path to joy.


    Depression seems to rear its ugly head a lot this time of year. It seems there are many reasons. Some people have lost loved ones around Christmas and the season brings all those feelings of loss back up to the surface. Others have such severe financial problems that they feel overwhelmed by the holiday season. Some people are just alone.


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    I have always loved Christmas. It is one of my favorite holidays, and always lifts my spirits. But I have fallen prey to depression in my life. There was a time when I was in so much pain for so long that I was despairing. I didn't want to die, but the thought went through my head that it wouldn't be so bad to just go to sleep and not wake up.


    Whatever the reason, if you find yourself depressed, please reach out to someone you trust. Once you start to feel better, try doing something for someone else. A random act of kindness is a great way to raise your own spirits.


    If I could, I would give each and everyone of you the gift of peace in your heart this year. It is the season of peace, and I so want to share it.


    A year ago, when I was in severe pain and feeling lost, a woman who became my best friend reached out to me, and lifted me out of my dark place. I wrote a short piece of prose describing that experience. It is called, “The Second Greatest Commandment.”


    I crouched alone on the precipice of despair

    and chanced a glance at the darkness below.

    The cold seeped in. It was targeting my heart.

    And then.....a glimmer of light shone down from above.

    I heard the Lord's voice, felt the warmth of His Love.

    He called me to Him, and reached out His hand.

    I floated to the top of the mountain.

    Warmth filled my body and surrounded my soul.

    I saw you smiling there, standing in the Light,

    my sister in Christ, leading me toward The Light of the world,

    and away from the night


    Whatever your faith tradition is, I hope you feel the Light this Christmas. I hope you feel loved, and I hope you find peace. This is the Season of Hope.

Published On: December 12, 2012