Making Yourself a Priority During the Holiday Season

  • In the midst of the holiday season, life is swooshing by so very quickly.  Can it really be two weeks since we had Thanksgiving?  Hard to believe.

    I looked at the calender and noticed that it is only two weeks until Christmas and less than 1.5 weeks until Hanukkah.  In 23 days, it will be a New Year.  2012!!!

    During this crazy time, I’m sure that you’ve been busy trying to take care of things.  Perhaps you have obligations to attend social events or you need to head to the mall to get that one gift you can’t order online.  I know that I have a similar trip to make.  It is on my list of procrastinated “things to do.”

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    I was reading Karen Lee Richards’ post 10 Tips for Holiday Shopping with Chronic Pain for some great ideas regarding shopping.  She offers up solid advice which includes: make a list, shop from home, consider gift cards, map out your strategy, and dress for comfort.  I have successfully followed each suggestion. (Now if only I knew what my nephews wanted for Christmas, I could finish my shopping.)

    You know, Karen has written some of the best posts over the years offering up wonderful suggestions.  There was another one, Surviving the Holidays with Chronic Pain, in which she suggested that we gives ourselves a G.I.F.T. during the season. 

    • G - Guilt must go
    • I - Importance rules
    • F - Family matters
    • T - Think ahead

    This is such a clever reminder of ways to help prioritize needs and wants, especially in thinking about what is important.  Whether it is deciding to skip a party in order to have more “spoons” or choosing to order a pre-cooked meal from the local grocery store to be able to spend more time with family, it is wise to determine what is MOST IMPORTANT to you.

    Truly, this is something which we should do for ourselves throughout the year.  When living with rheumatoid arthritis or any other chronic illness, what is most important should often be YOU!! 

    Sometimes it is difficult to make yourself a priority, especially when you are juggling work and family and managing an illness (something which can feel like a full time job).  This is something often overlooked, I think, amongst the holiday hubbub.  We still have “normal” things to take care of, one of which is our health.

    Have you remembered to make yourself priority #1 this year?

    I have had no choice but to put myself first this holiday season as my health has dictated the matter.  It would have been fun to host an engagement/holiday party.  But instead, I have been recovering from an MS flare and the resulting steroid brain fog.  My RA is beginning to flare (seeing my rheumy next week), but I think that I finally have my brain back (yay!).  At the same time, I have been napping almost everyday (which helps)...and you know what?  It has been wonderful.

    Putting myself first has felt indulgent.  Admittedly, I do not have children to attend to.  I do not have a spouse at home to care for, and when my fiance is here, he helps to take care of me.  I do share a house with my mother and we joke often that between the two of us, we make up one healthy person.  It’s true.  Our relationship reminds me of the yin-yang symbol in motion as one of us helps to pick up the slack for the other.  My situation is unique and I am lucky to put it mildly.

  • I don’t have any clever tips on how to balance the demands which I don’t face myself.  I don’t know what YOU need to do to make this season easier for yourself.  Only you can determine that.  I do know that each of us has a little voice inside which will let us know what we need, if only we will listen. 

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    My wish for you this holiday season is the freedom and support to put your needs first.  May you have a blessed and relaxed time with friends and family.  May your RA be merely a hint of a thought in the back of your mind as you enjoy the holiday season.

    Merry Christmas!  Happy Hanukkah!  Happy New Year!


    Lisa Emrich is author of the blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers.

Published On: December 09, 2011