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5 realistic tips for holiday “health and happiness” when living with chronic illness

Quartet Ambassadors

Stories | Dec 27, 2017

“Health and happiness” seems like a good goal for the New Year, doesn’t it? We think so, too. As we all know too well, stress can get in the way of working towards that goal, especially during the busy holiday season — but it doesn’t have to be a barrier.

We asked our Quartet ambassadors — learn more about this amazing group here! — for realistic tips on how they manage chronic illness and mental health conditions during the chaos of the holidays. What we heard from all: make your health — that means physical and mental — a priority and take it one day at a time.

  • Schedule one hangout a week — with yourself. December is a seemingly endless stream of parties, shopping, and family events. It can be hard to find time for yourself, but insufficient downtime can contribute to stress and anxiety and exacerbate health issues. Literally schedule time at least once a week to do the things you enjoy and know that it’s OK to say no to events — your friends and family will understand (they may be feeling overwhelmed, too!). Feel overwhelmed by the idea of saying “no?” Start here.
  • Be mindful of your nutritional needs. With so many social events, maintaining your usual meal routines might not be possible. Adding heavy meals, sweets, and alcohol to the mix can make chronic illnesses flare up and aggravate symptoms of mental health conditions like brain fog and sleep issues. When possible, eat at your normal times and try to find some healthy food options. That doesn’t mean avoiding that piece of chocolate cake you’re craving — it’s about making sure you’re also eating the foods that you need to feel healthy.
  • Get enough sleep. When you’re well-rested, everything will seem more manageable. Relaxation, not just sleep, is important, too. Curl up with your dog, make a cup of tea, watch a movie — whatever helps reduce your anxiety and bring you a sense of calm during a busy time.
  • Stay active. Daily meditation, yoga, going for a run — whatever your normal routine is to stay physically and mentally fit, keep it up. Sometimes, you may not want to get up and make time for these activities, but it will help you feel more relaxed, less stressed and anxious, and better equipped to take on everything else. Go for a walk around the neighborhood, just being outside and active can make a big difference.
  • Go to that therapy appointment. Or support group, or coffee meetup with a friend you trust. Whatever your routine care for your mental health is, don’t cancel it when other events or obligations come up. It’s crucial that you go to the sessions and take the time to check in with how you are feeling. It may seem like a hassle, but it will help you to better manage the day-to-day bustle of the season.

Your health is so important — take the time every day to recharge, and you’ll be able to be present and enjoy the time with family and friends. Wishing you happy holidays and a very happy New Year!

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