12 Tips on How To Cope With CRPS, Chronic Illness or Chronic Pain Through The Christmas Holidays
The Holidays at Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year can be a very lonely, stressful and painful time. Here are 12 top tips on how to cope through the Christmas season whilst living with CRPS, Chronic illness or chronic pain ie how to ‘survive‘ through Christmas and the Holiday Season.
1. SET YOUR LIMITS / ORGANISE / PACE YOURSELF
At this time of year you will probably have many things to prepare, buy, cook, organise prescriptions and medications to last you over the times that your chemist and doctors are closed. Don’t feel that you’ve failed if you can’t manage to do something in one go, you are a chronic pain or CRPS sufferer, it is to be expected!
- LISTS – List all your jobs that you need to do and then speak to your family and friends and try and delegate the various duties you have. So, for example you have things like buying Christmas presents, getting out the decorations, purchasing the food for the holidays etc. Start giving each member of your family and your friends and give them a job each to do, remember you can always oversee everything that others do whilst taking a breather. Remember not to get into a never ending to-do list – so give yourself some relaxation time. You could do a crossword or watch a TV programme.
- LISTS on your own – If you are on your own during the Holiday Season then firstly DON’T PANIC as it will make things seem a lot harder to deal with and cope with. So, write yourself a list and set yourself a task to do that morning, afternoon or day and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to carry on to the next task on the list as it could make your pain worse even if you don’t feel it at the moment, by stretching yourself further may cause a flare up.
- GOAL SETTING – Set yourself small goals to achieve each day and don’t worry if you don’t manage to do everything you want. Learn to pace yourself.
- Don’t forget to get extra batteries and bulbs in especially if you have children because not all toys and presents have the batteries with the item. It will save a sea of disappointed faces on Christmas Day.
- HELP – Always try and ask for help, you can’t do everything yourself.
- DOCTORS & MEDICATION – Make sure you do know when your doctors office, GP surgery and chemist/pharmacy are open and shut and make sure you have enough medication to last you over those days. Christmas and the activities around Christmas can cause you more pain that you’re used to, so make sure that you have enough of your pain medication to last you. Also make sure you have some antacids, cough medicine and cold/flu remedies just in case for over the festive season. Keep the phone number for your GP surgery and pharmacy handy just in case you need to contact them.
- PACING – Take a look at the PACING blog here in the Burning Nights CRPS Support website to give more help and tips on setting limits and pacing yourself and your activities.
- PARTIES – If you are going to any parties over the Christmas and New Year season, why not give yourself a time limit on how long you want to spend at the party. If you are standing up at the party make sure you rest as much as you can by sitting down. People will just be glad you’re there and it doesn’t matter if you are sat down! See below for more information on Parties Strategies.
- COPING – Within our website there is also a COPING STRATEGIES blog to help
- TRAVELLING – If you’re travelling anywhere over the Christmas Holidays don’t forget to check out our Essential Tips You Should Know About Travelling with CRPS or Chronic Pain
2. CHRISTMAS CARDS
The prospect of writing out all those Christmas cards can be very daunting and worrying. So why not look at alternatives to the traditional Christmas card, such as e-cards that you can now purchase online.
However if you’d prefer to give the traditional Christmas card, why not type up a set insert with what you want to say and then either stick the insert inside the card or just fold it up and slip it into each card. If you have trouble with CRPS or chronic pain in your hands and arms, you can use speech to text programmes on your computer, programmes such as Dragon Naturally Speaking or there are now speech to text apps on your mobile device that you can use.
You can also ask family or friends if they will write the cards for you if you tell them what to write in each card and who the card goes to.
**Did you know that Burning Nights CRPS Support is selling 2 different styles of Christmas card for the first year? 100% of the profits go back into the charity! We have:
We wish ‘Ewe’ a Merry Christmas – Christmas cards
Fireside Winter Wishes – Christmas Cards
3. GIFT BUYING & GIFT WRAPPING
Getting to the busy shops during December to get your Christmas gifts for family and friends can not only be daunting to face but can also end up being a painful experience especially walking round the bustling shops with people rushing everywhere, your CRPS limb can easily be knocked. Why not consider buying your gifts online? That way you don’t have to go to the shops, find a car space and then trudge round the stores. Don’t forget that if you do buy your Christmas gifts online to buy them through Easy Fundraising! Every order done through Easy Fundraising will result in Burning Nights CRPS Support charity receiving FREE donations from the shops you go to via EF!
If you struggle with the wrapping of your presents you’ve bought, when you’re buying the gifts online, check with the company if they do gift wrapping. This makes it so much easier and quicker if they can gift wrap your presents rather than you struggling to do all the wrapping.
Also don’t forget to ask your friends and family if they can wrap up your Christmas gifts for you. This will help you keep your pain levels down.
There are also a good range of Christmas gift boxes and gift bags that are available from various shops online and in the High Street. This could not only save you time instead of taking the time to gift wrap all your presents but it will also help keep your pain levels lower than having to gift wrap.
If you do your shopping online in the UK, you can help us at Burning Nights CRPS Support by raising FREE donations for us if you shop via EASY FUNDRAISING. You don’t pay a penny extra and it’s the retailer who pays the donation to us and not you! Please click to visit EASY FUNDRAISING
Whenever you buy anything online – from your Christmas groceries to your home insurance, Christmas decorations and Christmas gifts – you could be raising a free donation for Burning Nights CRPS Support charity? There are nearly 3,000 retailers including Amazon, John Lewis, Aviva, thetrainline, Hobbycraft and Tesco who will donate a percentage of the amount you spend to Burning Nights CRPS Support to say thank you for shopping with them.
It’s really simple, and doesn’t cost you anything!
All you have to do is:
1. Go to Easy Fundraising – Burning Nights CRPS Support charity -> https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/burningnight/
2. Sign up for FREE
3. Get shopping – your donations will be collected by easyfundraising and automatically sent to Burning Nights CRPS Support. It couldn’t be easier!
There are no catches or hidden charges and Burning Nights CRPS Support will be really grateful for your donations.
Thank you all for your support!
4. CHRISTMAS FOOD
If you’re on your own or you are the one who has to do all the cooking at Christmas, there are many short cuts that you can take including pre-cut vegetables, prepared meat, frozen potatoes and vegetables. You can even buy tin foil trays so you don’t have to do any washing up afterwards, you can just throw the trays away!
Write yourself a list of all the vegetables and food that needs to be cooked and the cooking times of each. This will help your Christmas Day meals run as smoothly as possible. You can also put the vegetables in pans of water on Christmas Eve again to save you time on the big day itself.
- Try and set yourself a budget for everything during the Festive Season
- Money is always a big worry and can easily stress you out which can then lead to depression, so try and spread the money you have for Christmas so that if you do go to do the shopping for presents or food, you won’t be as tempted to splurge on those extra items that you might not actually want or need
6. ACCEPT YOUR PAIN
- Once you yourself have accepted your chronic pain or your Complex Regional Pain Syndrome then others will hopefully begin to accept your chronic pain
- Acknowledge how you and your body feels with your chronic pain
- Try not to ignore things that cause you more pain, you need to accept that you can’t do everything that you did before your pain or your Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
- Have a look at the ACCEPTANCE blog within this website
Just by letting others know that you’re having a bad day or your symptoms are flaring up and then hearing them say how they understand what you’re going through can be therapeutic. Also talking with others who are dealing with the same pain can be a great way to learn about how they cope when feeling a bit down as a result of their symptoms. (Burke, S. 2014)
- If you find yourself stressed out and worried by all that is going on around you, remember that you are NOT ALONE. There is always support available all through the Festive Season. Please visit the SUPPORT FOR SUFFERERS page if you feel you need to talk to someone who will listen, understand and not judge you.
- Are you a carer, friend, family member of a loved one of a chronic pain or CRPS/RSD sufferer? Don’t worry, there is a space on the Burning Nights FORUM where you also are able to join and to talk to others in a similar situation as yourself. There is also a SUPPORT for FAMILY, FRIENDS & CARERS page with external links and information for you to refer to for any help you may need for finances, your own health which is important and more.
- You can also find support via our social media channels – You can find Burning Nights CRPS Support on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn
8. PARTY STRATEGIES
Holiday season means for some – Parties! But for those living with chronic pain or CRPS this can leave you with a sense of dread and fear. Here’s some tips on how to get through parties while living with CRPS, chronic pain or chronic illness:
- If you get invited to a party, let the person know that you’ll do your best to attend their party. But also go on to explain to say that if your chronic pain or CRPS flares up, then you may have to take a rain check
- Make sure to ask the person how much lead time they’ll need to give a definite yes or no. The person may say that any time will be ok, so reply by saying that you’ll call the person up about 2 days before the party to let them know
- If you don’t go to the party, please don’t worry! We know that the person or their friends may a little annoyed that you don’t go but by letting people know in advance that your condition is unpredictable they will take the news of you not coming a lot easier
- If you do plan on going to the party tell the person that your condition means that you become very tired easily or you can flare up easily so you can only stay at the party a couple of hours
- If your chronic pain or CRPS is in your legs, don’t forget to mention to your host that standing can tire you out and ask that they leave a chair out for you.
9. IF YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN
Being on your own during the holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving can seem very depressing indeed. You watch families, children etc enjoying themselves and you begin to feel vulnerable and desperate. First of all please don’t feel alone, that’s why we are here to help you.
Try and give yourself a little task each day, something that you enjoy doing eg baking, adult art, crocheting, knitting or join a local club that does crafts you enjoy. Be careful if you do go out in case of bad weather.
If you find you are struggling, the UK Samaritans are open 24 hours a day. Please visit our SUPPORT FOR CRPS SUFFERERS page for all the phone numbers and details you need.
10. LEARN TO SAY THAT ‘NO’ WORD!
This refers to EVERYTHING! No more spending, no more jobs/tasks to do, no more ignoring that nagging extra pain you’ve been feeling and just TRY AND ENJOY THE FESTIVE SEASON!!
11. IF THINGS BECOME TOO MUCH
Christmas isn’t for everyone and sometimes everything becomes just too much. Here are some phone numbers for organisations around the world who are available 24/7:
Samaritans: 116 123 (UK & ROI)
Childline: 0800 1111
Mind: 0300 123 3393
Age UK: 0800 169 6565
Domestic Violence Hotline: 0808 2000 247
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Suicide.org: 1-800-784-2433 OR 1-800-273-8255
Suicide.org Military Veterans: 1-800-273-TALK (Press 1)
Suicide.org en Español: 1-800-273-TALK (Press 2)
Lifeline: 13 11 14 and if life is in danger call 000
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
Suicide Action Montreal: 1-866-APPELLE
15 is the national emergency line 24 hr
Suicide Écoute: 01 45 39 40 00 24hr suicide prevention helpline
La Croixe Rouge Écoute: 0 800 858 858
The final thing to say is overall, try to enjoy the Holidays whether you are on your own or with your family! Keep in minds yourself and your immediate family.
- Burke, S. (2014) ‘5 Tips for Dealing With Depression and Chronic Pain around the Holidays’ Spine Health website. Retrieved 30/11/2017. Available from: <https://www.spine-health.com/blog/5-tips-dealing-depression-and-chronic-pain-around-holidays>
- Richards, K.L. (2014) ‘Surviving The Holidays,’ Health Central. Retrieved 28/11/2016. Available from: <http://www.healthcentral.com/chronic-pain/coping-196314-5.html>
- Skarnulis, L. (2014) ‘Chronic Illness and the Holidays,’ Web MD. Retrieved 28/11/2016. Available from: <http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/chronic-illness-holidays?page=1>
Merry Christmas Everyone from the Burning Nights CRPS Support charity team! Try to remember to enjoy yourselves! Why not try any of our 12 tips on how to cope through the Christmas Season whilst living with chronic pain or CRPS?!
Last Updated: 11/12/2018