By Above MS Contributors
For some people, the holidays may be “the most wonderful time of the year.” You may look forward to family get-togethers, themed parties, or gift swaps. For others, the holidays may bring feelings of anxiety, stress, or loneliness. Living with multiple sclerosis (MS) may also bring its own challenges.
Whether you are spending the holidays with friends and family, or apart from loved ones, it's important to try to be flexible and take things as they come. Find different ways to approach old traditions or create new ones, including celebrating virtually, joining an online MS support group, or giving back to others.
Overall, the holidays can be a busy time of year. Below, hear more about how our contributors have found ways to make celebrating the holidays a little easier for them.
During the holiday season, it’s important to make time for yourself. This time of the year can be especially busy for me, so I need to listen to what my body is telling me.
“Don’t feel guilty about putting yourself first. Keep
doing the activities that you love, and keep up with your
own wellness routine.”
Sometimes, you’ll have to decline an invitation to a New Year’s Eve gathering or ask another family member to take on the Thanksgiving dinner you traditionally host. For me, it was about understanding my limits and practicing self-care to help me feel grounded and relaxed.
Dividing responsibilities has helped me a lot, from buying presents and picking up groceries to food prep. My family has found ways to share tasks so that the burden doesn’t fall on one person.
“You have to determine what must be done and
We create documents that everyone can access online to figure out what people can help out with. I’ll admit, there have been times when I’ve been told I was signing up for too much and had to take things off my list. With these assignments, I have learned to spend my energy on things that are most important to me and my family.
Cutting corners isn’t always a bad thing. Some holiday traditions may require more physical or mental strength compared to others. For me, this is making homemade meals. In the past, I would work hard to make a perfect feast for my family because I thought it was expected. Surprisingly, my family enjoys a holiday meal prepared by a restaurant or grocery store just as much!
“Sharing my struggles with my family showed me how much they care and support me.”
While homemade meals are terrific, you shouldn’t feel like you have to make everything on your list at the expense of your health. It may be helpful to have a meeting with your family to set expectations. In my family, we discovered that we were spending our energy on the wrong things. We found what we could change to have a more relaxing and connected holiday season.
Remember, the holidays can mean something different to everyone, and your experience with MS is unique to you. No matter what the holiday season may bring each year, it’s important to find a silver lining, practice gratitude, and keep your MS health needs in mind as you prepare to spread good cheer.