My Holiday Lifestyle with MS| Stressing less with MS

With the passing of Thanksgiving and Christmas songs and decorations popping up everywhere, one thing is obvious: holiday madness has arrived.

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The holidays are a time to be cherished by many but they also come with a lot of chaos.

  • Shopping in busy stores
  • Budgeting for extra expenses
  • Cooking (and consuming) insane amounts of food
  • Visiting with friends and family alike
  • Preparing for countless gatherings
  • Not to mention dealing with the overall frenetic energy of the days….

It’s all enough to drive a perfectly healthy person to a sick bed but those with Multiple Sclerosis are especially susceptible to fall victim.  Stress levels are often raised high during the holiday season and the overall effect is intensified because it occurs over such a short time period.  Stress is a huge agitator for MS and can lead to devastating effects on a patient’s health.  People also tend to run themselves ragged during the holidays keeping up with busy social calendars.  Chronic fatigue often plagues those with MS so staying on schedule can be burdensome.

I volunteered to cook Thanksgiving dinner this year.  I know this is a crazy proposition for some but I love cooking and couldn’t imagine it being much more to handle than any other weeknight dinner.  What I wasn’t thinking of is the fact that Thanksgiving dinner involves as much as 3 or 4 weeknight dinners….

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I started cooking around 9am and didn’t really stop until we sat down to eat around 5:30pm.  After being on my feet the entire day and stressing over how everything would turn out, I was so wiped-out that I almost passed out in my dinner plate.  Although a few glasses of wine were involved, I was honestly so exhausted that I didn’t even stay awake long enough after dinner to eat a piece of my beautiful cranberry-pecan pie!

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I’ve already stepped down from cooking for Christmas but there is still a lot to fret over.  My paycheck certainly doesn’t get any larger in December in fact I work for a school district and loose more time (and pay) than most, so of course I always experience a slight panic over the thought of shopping for presents.  I know it sounds cliché but I genuinely love giving to those I love so while I don’t have much to work with I tend to overspend on my holiday shopping and leave myself in a hole I can’t get out of until after the New Year.   This year I’ve tried to cut down on the trouble to come by saving as much as I can in advance.  I have also made a shopping list and created a strict budget that I’m going to adhere to.  Even if I’m not entirely successful in my attempt at restricting my spending, I’ve planned and thought enough in advance to avoid falling into that hole again this year.

As far as managing my social calendar goes, I’ve had to learn over these past years with MS that I need to have realistic expectations about what I can and can’t handle.  This is the hardest part for me because my entire life the holidays have been about seeing and being with as many of your loved ones as possible.  It meant late night gatherings and more memories made in two weeks than the rest of the year combined.  I’ve now come to terms with the fact that in my best interest the holidays need to be about relaxing while I can and not totally depleting my energy supply.  I make time to see the people I love but I can’t stay out as late as I used to anymore and have to deal with usually being the first to leave the party.

MS blog, Multiple sclerosis blog, MS research, multiple sclerosis lifestyle, multiple sclerosis holiday, multiple sclerosis stress My fiancé and I at a recent birthday party…..where we were the first to leave.

 

The good news is that I can still go to parties.  I can still enjoy a glass of wine every once in a while.  I can still participate in holiday madness I just have to tone it down a bit now.  Moderation is a word I’ve heard a lot since being diagnosed with MS and it’s a practice I’ve had to learn to live by.  It’s a drag not always being able to live and “party” like a typical twenty something but it’s also a drag to be sick with my MS.  The key to not succumbing to the pitfalls of MS from stress and exhaustion during the holidays is knowing your body and what it can handle, and not pushing too far past that limit.  Let everyone else deal with the madness part and sit back and enjoy the holiday part!  My gift to myself this holiday and New Year is good health and I wish the same for all of you!

1 Comment

  1. by Dominik on December 4, 2014  11:59 pm Reply

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