Contact Us

Living with CRPS and Chronic Pain at Christmas: 12 Tips for a Flare-Free Festive Season

The holiday season is filled with potential for joy and togetherness, but often arrives with a hefty side order of stress, guilt, and pressure. For those of us with chronic pain and CRPS the change in routine, the festive bustle, the food, and even the cold damp weather, can mean heightened levels of pain.

With lots to organise, it is easy to overdo it, especially with the picture-perfect expectations peddled by social media. This is also a time when the comparisons of before and after you became ill can feel particularly stark.

It is possible, however, to enjoy the holiday season fully. Going into Christmas with a plan, and the conscious acceptance that you need to do things differently, will really help.

Here are 12 of our top tips for, not only, coping with Christmas, but enjoying it, whilst managing your new normal with CRPS.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, remember that you are not alone. Find out how we can support you.

12 tips for a flare-free festive season by Burning Nights CRPS Support. Text is overlaid on a photograph of three friends wearing Christmas socks snuggling on a sofa in front of a Christmas tree

12 Tips for Living With CRPS and Chronic Pain over Christmas

1. Get organised

As CRPS warriors we need to be organised – last-minute trips to a busy supermarket, or shopping centre, are challenging.

Sit down and list it all out: the food shop, the gift lists, the decorating, the nik naks the kids need for school festivities…

You’ll feel better when it’s on paper and not whirling around your head!

Top tip from us: make sure you add batteries to your shopping list, especially if you’ll have children round on Christmas day. So many toys don’t come with the batteries they need.

As someone with chronic pain, it’s also essential to know the holiday opening hours of your doctor’s office, GP surgery, and chemist or pharmacy. Make sure you have enough medication to last you over those days – take into account that the activities around the festive period may mean more pain than usual. It’s a good idea to stock up on antacids, cough medicine, and cold and flu remedies too.

2. Ask for help and delegate

When you have your list of jobs, delegate as many as you can – something unexpected always crops up during the festive period, so get as many things off your original to-do list as you can.

It can be difficult to ask for help, especially during what is a busy period for everyone. Remember that your friends and family are keen to help and often don’t know how – let them know they can. You can always maintain the role of strict overseer of important jobs like the perfect placement of baubles on the Christmas tree!

3. Cut corners (and don’t apologise for it)

Of the things you have left on your to-do list (once you have delegated, delegated, then delegated some more) decide what you really have to and, more importantly, want to do.

Be honest. What is most important to you and your family? What are the things that, when you think about them, you feel your body tensing up? Imagine not doing them. What would happen if you didn’t?

It is so easy to be sucked into a whirlwind of social pressure, putting unrealistic and unnecessary expectations on yourself. Do the kids really need Christmas Eve boxes? Does the Christmas cake have to be homemade? Must the Christmas tree be picked out from the farm?

Opting for shop-bought, avoiding an afternoon in the cold, and keeping things simple is not lazy. It puts a high value on your time and energy, a value which is deserved.

If you’re doing the cooking on Christmas Day, we encourage you to exploit every shortcut available: buy pre-cut vegetables and prepared meat; use frozen potatoes and vegetables. Consider tin foil baking trays, as well as party plates, so you have less washing up. The team at Burning Nights like to put our veggies in pans of water on Christmas Eve to take one heavy lifting job away from the big day itself.

4. Cards, presents, and gift wrapping

Send e-cards

The prospect of writing out a pile of Christmas cards can be daunting and tiring. The popular, and environmentally-friendly, option is e-cards. Choose one of the fabulous festive designs from Don't Send Me A Card and donate the cost of cards and postage to Burning Nights CRPS Support. This Christmas we are focused on raising funds to extend our counselling services to meet the high and increasing demand.

If you’d prefer to give a traditional Christmas card, consider typing your message on your device and printing out an insert to slip inside each card.

Someone in cosy Christmas socks is warming their toes by a flickering fire. Text reads : cards done. feet up. Send eCards for Christmas with a donation of the cost of the cards

Online gifting with Easy Fundraising

It’s simple to buy gifts online these days rather than facing a busy high street. If you register with Easy Fundraising you’ll be raising money for Burning Nights CRPS Support at the same time and at no extra cost to you.

Scrap the gift wrap

Wrapping presents is tiring and tricky. When you’re shopping online, check if the company offers gift wrapping. Alternatively, use gift bags or ask friends and family over for a gift-wrapping session. Even if you’re having a good day, by sharing this task you conserve your energy for another activity.  

5. Set your boundaries (and stick to them)

Be intentional about what you want from the holiday season and consciously establish your top priorities. Perhaps it’s joining the annual reunion of your school friends or being fully present with the kids when they open their presents. Maybe it’s making your signature Christmas dish. Keep the list short and be honest with yourself. Identifying your personal priorities can help you step out of the vortex of social media expectations. Focus on what’s important to you and let the rest go.

It's okay to set boundaries that ensure you are taking care of yourself, especially when you’re navigating the challenges of chronic pain and CRPS. It can be hard to say ‘no’ over the Christmas period – whether to a party, an activity, or to festive food – but you are right to do so.

Prioritising your wellbeing is not selfish or a ‘nice-to-have’; it is essential. Keep your health at the top of the festive to-do list.

Set yourself small goals to achieve each day. Don’t be tempted to carry on to the next task on the list, even if you are feeling fine - stretching yourself in the lead-up to Christmas can leave you struggling on the day itself. For a quick guide to setting limits and pacing yourself browse this Burning Nights post.

6. Keep to your routine

Try and stick to your normal routine of exercise, eating, and rest. With the raised levels of stress and anxiety that accompany the festive period, your body will benefit from a familiar regime.

Sleep is especially important. It can be tempting to try and fit more in by squeezing your evening routine. Try not to. If you are struggling with sleep then refer to these tips for sleeping better with CRPS and chronic pain.

7. Plan for Christmas parties

Holiday season means parties! They’re a wonderful opportunity to get together with friends for a dose of Christmas joy but, if you live with CRPS or chronic pain, they can become a source of dread.

With some preparation, and a little flexibility on the part of your host, you can still enjoy socialising at Christmas:

  • Firstly, be selective. Choose the event, or events, you really want to attend, and don’t be afraid to decline the rest. You can do so with kindness and appreciation of the host.
  • For the invitations you accept, let the host know ahead of time that, whilst you are looking forward to their event, your condition is unpredictable and that if your pain or CRPS flares up (or there’s a risk it might) then you will need to take a rain-check. It can be helpful to find out from the organiser how much lead time they need for a definite yes or no.
  • Check on the plans for seating and ask for a chair to be available so you can rest often. Remember that people are, more often than not, happy to help.
  • Give yourself a time limit at the party and try not to stretch past it. Driving separately can be a good idea so you are not waiting on other people when you are ready to go.

If you can’t go to a party, please don’t worry. This is not your fault and your wellbeing is most important.

8. Keep your ‘stocking’ full

Make space within the festive schedule for quiet moments and rest. Stress is a big contributing factor to flare-ups so keeping time for relaxation can help. Perhaps a 5-minute mindfulness meditation exercise or a simple cup of tea and a sit-down.

You can embrace the festive season whilst topping up your energy levels too. Watch a Christmas movie curled up with a hot chocolate, or keep warm and cosy with a Christmas jumper and reindeer socks! You could even treat yourself to an early Christmas present with one of Burning Nights new CRPS self-care packs.

mage of a green and red Christmas stocking with text saying fill your stocking this holiday season. There is a list of ideas including curling up with a mug of hot chocolate and wearing cosy socks.

9. Pay attention to how you feel

Unfortunately, we live in a society where relentless busyness and ‘pushing-through’ is celebrated. Forcing yourself on, ignoring pain and fatigue, isn’t right for anyone - and it’s catastrophic for those living with CRPS or chronic pain.

Everyday make time to check-in consciously with how your body is feeling and acknowledge it.

Sometimes you’ll want to convince yourself that you can do more than you can. It’s a process to adapt and accept that we can’t always do what we previously took in our stride.

Take a look at Burning Nights advice for learning acceptance of CRPS and chronic pain.

It can be frustrating but listen to your body and honour its needs. Push too hard and CRPS can be unforgiving so don’t ignore those early signs.

10. Driving home for Christmas?

If you’re travelling anywhere over the Christmas holidays check out our essential tips for travelling with CRPS or chronic pain.

Remember to build rest days into your itinerary and allow recovery time between returning from your trip and starting back to work.

11. Be kind to yourself

Talk to yourself gently and in the way you would a friend. If you don’t do everything you planned to, you have not failed.

Pay attention to how social media is making you feel. During this period, when our social feeds are full of picture-perfect lives, it can be hard to remember that these are edited show-reels. Mute those accounts that are not lifting you up.

12. Get support

Letting others know when you’re having a bad day, or your symptoms are flaring-up, can be therapeutic. However it can be hard - during what is often a stressful period for everyone - for family and friends to truly comprehend how debilitating chronic pain is. You may need to extend grace and forgiveness to those who don’t understand.

Please reach out and connect with us – we have been where you are. Sharing your experiences with others who have the same pain can be a great way to learn new coping strategies and unburden yourself. (Burke, S. 2014)

If you find yourself stressed-out and worried, remember that you are not alone. Visit our support page or list of helplines. You can also find support via our social media channels – Burning Nights CRPS Support is on Facebook, X, Instagram, and TikTok.

If you are a carer, friend, or family member of a loved one with chronic pain or CRPS there is space on the Burning Nights CRPS Online Community Forum to connect with others in a similar situation. You can also find more information and links to other helpful organisations here: Support for Family, Friends & Caregivers.

A cheeky elf hangs upside down from a string of liights next to a Christmas tree. Text says: Merry Christmas! From all the team at Burning Nights CRPS support.

Merry Christmas to you from everyone at the Burning Nights CRPS Support team! With these 12 tools for managing CRPS and chronic pain over Christmas, we hope you have a festive period filled with joy.



Last Updated: 13/12/2023

Registered in England & Wales.
Registered Address: 1 Alder Brook, Chinley, High Peak, Derbyshire SK23 6DN.
Registered Charity No. 1166522
Copyright 2024. Burning Nights.
All Rights reserved.
Site by Calm Digital

We use cookies to improve your experience. By accepting you agree to our cookie policy

Accept Cookies

Cookie Preferences

This website uses the following types of cookies: