First there was Halloween.

Then came  Thanksgiving.

Now we’re on to Hanukkah, Kwanza Christmas and New Years!

Ready or not, the holidays are here!

This time of year presents a dizzying array of demands — parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining – seemingly impossible tasks for someone struggling with pain.   As we head into December, here are some practical tips that can help  minimize pain this holiday season:

  1. Be realistic. Holidays often center on tradition and ritual – but if you’re struggling with pain, you may not be able to celebrate “like you used to.”  Choose a few to traditions to hold on to but be open to creating new ones too. The trick is to acknowledge change and know your limits.   Let your holiday mantra be:  half a party is better than no party at all!
  2. Reach out and ask for help. When attending a holiday party, be upfront and explain your situation.  Ask your host if there will be seating or a quite place for you to rest if you need a break.  Offer to bring napkins or cups instead of overdoing it in the kitchen with home cooking.  If you can, appoint a family or friend to be your holiday “pain monitor.”  By creating a buddy system, you can ensure that someone is watching out for you and making sure you don’t overdo it. 
  3. Plan ahead.  Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities that you know will cause your pain level to spike.  Give yourself time to enjoy the activity AND time to recover.  
  4. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending time alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Listen to holiday music.  Meditate.  Remember that it’s okay to say no and it’s okay to take a break.  

Above all, take care of yourself – Even on the most painful days, we all have so much to be thankful for this holiday season.