The holidays are always a difficult time for me. I live out of state from all of our family, and even though it's only a 2 hour drive, it's hard to "make our rounds" and see all of the family when we go up. Having fibromyalgia makes this even more difficult for me because I simply do not have the energy and stamina to go to and keep up with everything going on. Many times I just opt out of going to family gatherings because it's too tedious. Over the years I've lived with this illness I've learned a few "rules " to follow for myself. Not everyone, especially family, would agree with these rules, but for me it's necessary and keeps me going. With Easter coming up, I would like to share a few of these "rules" with you. I would love to hear comments on what you think of them, as well as hear some of your tips on surviving the holidays!
1. If it's not important to ME, don't do it. Just because a gathering, party, social is scheduled, it does not automatically mean I have to attend. Pick what is important to you personally and focus on those things. Don't try to attend everything......it's impossible, even for those who are perfectly healthy!
2. Plan Ahead! This is the biggest help to me since I've become sick. I can't get things done on a regular schedule anymore, so I try to get things done far ahead of time so as to avoid a deadline. Deadlines just lead to more stress. If presents are required, purchase ahead of time. If food is required, try fixing something that can be prepared ahead of time and frozen then just popped into the microwave at the last minute, or even better purchase that ham or turkey from a service center.
3. Don't volunteer unless you really feel "lead" to do so. Don't feel pressured to volunteer your time or services just because everyone else is doing something. You have to take care of yourself first so that you can then take care of your family.
4. Learn to say NO! This was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but for me it has become a necessity. People are always asking me to do them favors, help them with things, etc... and I've had to learn to say no. I always explain that it's not that I don't want to do whatever the task may be, but that I simply am too sick to take on that particular task.
5. Don't overbook or double book yourself. With fibromyalgia, you are allotted just so much energy for each day and when it's gone, you crash. If you overdo it, you crash for several days!! So learn to only book what you KNOW you have the energy to take care of, with some left over. Because you're always going to exert more energy than you initially thought.
6. Try to keep your plans SIMPLE! Everyone wants to have the best holiday EVER!, but that's usually not possible for anyone, let alone someone with fibromyalgia. Try to keep your plans simple so that it doesn't take so much work to accomplish what you want to get done.
7. Ask for help! This is probably the hardest one of all for me. I've always been a one woman superwoman. That is until I got sick. Now I can't do simple tasks by myself on some days. So during the holidays, when things are really about being with family anyway, feel free to ask for help from others. Most people would love to help out, especially women.
8. Don't be ashamed to tell people you have fibromyalgia and you are sick. Most people assume we are perfectly healthy because we look healthy outwardly. It usually never crosses their minds that we may be struggling. If you simply explain that you're sick with fibromyalgia and what it causes, most people are very compassionate and would love to help out. I know it's a hard thing to do. Sometimes embarrassing, but it's not fair for us to complain that people don't understand us or expect too much out of us, if we haven't even told them about our conditions.
I hope this helps someone out there have a better and more joyful Easter holiday. May God richly bless you all as we celebrate this most wondrous of holidays.