The holidays are not all their cracked up to be for some people with chronic illness. They can be downright painful, filled with grief for many. There is nothing that can be said that can change that. So what do you do if you are one of those people? You breathe, deeply.

First of all, if you are one of those people that the holidays are a painful experience, I am sorry, truly sorry. I know that pain and I will never forget to be more sensitive to those going through it. There are no quick fixes or chipper-up attitudes that relieve it so I am not even going there.

What life “should” look like can be much different for those who are suffering from chronic illness, pain, and trauma. We should be happy during the holidays. We should be excited to be with family and friends. We should be able to do all the activities of the holiday season. We should be able to eat all the delicious meals and treats. We should have the energy to go to parties. Yet none of the shoulds seem to work out for some.

All I can say is try not to add to your illness and your trauma by expecting too much out of yourself. I have had years when I literally had to sit inside of my house, by myself, doing non-holiday things and let the time slip by so I could try life again after it was all over. When it is all just too much, I see no problem with that.

When we can muster up the energy to have a joyful heart but a weak body, then sitting on the sofa with a smile can be a grand success for the holidays.

No matter what you choose to do to get through this holiday season, breathe. Breathe deeply and purposely. Sometimes in those deep breaths, we can find some relief from the current misery.

Time, the holidays are simply a space in time. They will pass and life will go on. See, that is another one of those solutions that are supposed to make us feel better but rarely do. We all have our unique set of emotions and complexities that others cannot understand. Do the best you can and don’t worry about the rest. Let it be.

You will be exposed to many others during the holiday season that cannot begin to understand how we can still be so ill, still not be able to cook the fancy meals, still not be able to clean the house for company, and certainly not have the energy to entertain. Chronic illness is just that, chronic. Give yourself a break. Don’t beat yourself up for anything that you cannot do during the holidays.

Enjoy what you can and let the rest go. And remember to breathe deeply.

How do you handle the holidays while you are on this healing journey?

Maribeth Baxter, MBEC

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Donations are accepted to serve others on their chronic illness journey. Maribeth Baxter, MBEC provides voluntary certified health coaching services to the financially limited during their time of crisis.


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