How many of you are like me, saying “what?” How did it get to be the end of the year already! But it is that time of year again. Time to get ready for the holidays. And to anyone with fibro we know what that means—a delicate tight wire to cross between now and the new year.
The holidays can be hard on many people for many reasons, but to women with fibromyalgia it may be particularly bittersweet. Not that we don’t love the holidays, I’m sure most of us do, but we know what the holidays bring. Lots of opportunities to fall off that tight wire!
Between the shopping, the dinners, the family gatherings, the children’s plays and performances, the parties, the gift giving, the expectations… this is where a woman with fibromyalgia can lose her balance. Life is hard enough trying to stave off flare-ups, but during the holidays all the extra responsibilities and obligations can be too much. And it’s not that we don’t want to participate, we really, really do.
The Body Budget
We all have what I like to call a body budget. And typically someone healthy will have 8-10 hours worth of energy to be productive in a day. But when you have fibromyalgia that is cut in half—so you have maybe 4-5 hours in a day, if you are lucky, that you can get things done. Unless you are in a flare-up, then you may lose days to weeks where you had hoped to get things accomplished. This is extremely hard for women that have fibro and especially those that have to work outside the home. I see you. I know what you are going through.
This is part one of my fibro hacking the holidays strategies. Fibro hacking is basically anytime you devise a DIY plan to manage your fibromyalgia and stave off or halt any flare-ups. Ahhh, if you are a fibro newbie (aka just learning about fibro or haven’t been dealing with it for years), you may not have recognized the flare-up prodrome as I call it. Which can be different for some of us. But mine historically would be a feeling of overwhelming exhaustion followed by forgetfulness and body aches. In the beginning I always thought, “oh no, I must be coming down with the flu!” But after a few years, I realized it was the prodrome to a fibro flare for me. As many fibro veterans, I began to recognize it and started making note of the triggers. And that was the beginning of my fibro hacking. I discovered that if I avoided the known triggers (sometimes there are unknown triggers too) but if I avoided the known triggers such as overdoing it and for me, eating wheat and sugar, then I could more easily keep my energy and physical well-being balanced.
A big component of fibro hacking and self-care is planning ahead. Oh, but where to begin? Start with a calendar. Put in the days you know that you want or need to be somewhere. Keep the calendar handy so as you receive invitations through the holidays you can jot them into your schedule.
One of the most important things to do when planning your days, especially in maintaining awareness of fibro life balance, is to be realistic when filling in your schedule. Remember that some days might not have a full body budget of energy and if you go-go-go on one day be mindful to build in time for recovery and relaxation on the next. Outlining your schedule ahead of time will allow you to select your higher priority events and eliminate the items that are not so important.
Make a Checklist
Begin a checklist for each event or priority coming up. List everything that you need to do or are responsible for. Choose your party attire ahead of time so that you are not stressed when trying to get ready. If you are hosting a meal, plan the meal according to the food or diet that is best for YOUR health. Yes, of course there are traditional items that everyone expects, like yams with marshmallows and the such. But make sure there is plenty of food that you can eat that will not trigger a flare-up. Many women with fibromyalgia find that they do much better, are more comfortable, and have more energy if they eat gluten-free. And of course, low carb is good for most of us and might just help us stay out of that post meal coma!
Healthy Holiday Meals
I know meals are a big deal for the holidays, but I also know that getting through them without a fibro flare is a dream if at all possible. So, I have a special treat for you. I put together a Healthy Holidays Recipe book so you can plan a yummy gluten-free and low carb menu this year that everyone is sure to like. I included 5 starters or appetizers, 5 main courses, 5 side dishes, and 5 desserts. Choose what you need or make a feast of all 20 items. Click here for my gift to you to help you get ahead on the planning for the holidays.
Take a deep breath and allow yourself to plan ahead. When you can get ready for what is coming up, you won’t be caught off guard and end up rushing around in a frenzy. And remember, to schedule time to relax and recover from the hustle and bustle of these holidays.
Like I always say, tiny consistent actions can make BIG changes in your life. You’ve got this. This year can be organized and relaxed, helping you feel your best while you stay balance.
Hearts & (gentle) Hugs,