My Fibromyalgia Holiday Survival Techniques

My Fibromyalgia Holiday Survival Techniques

finding balance

Christmas is coming and if you have a chronic illness, it can make an already stressful time of year totally unbearable. When I was younger, I loved Christmas, but not so much anymore. Once Thanksgiving rolls around, I feel my stress level start to rise, along with the chances of a flare.

First, I think about what a mess my house is. How will I be able to get this pigsty into shape and keep it clean for Christmas dinner? How am I going to get everything done in time, including shopping for gifts and groceries, let alone preparing a meal for a large number of people?

Even though I like to host Christmas dinner for my family, it is a challenge, to say the least. My husband and I typically end up tag-teaming the cleaning, starting the weekend before. I wouldn’t be able to do this without a partner in crime.

If you have to go it alone and you can afford it, hire a cleaning service for a few hours a few days before the big event. You usually can find a deal on one of the local deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. For a little cash, you can save a lot of stress, time, and energy, and possibly the holiday season.

In order to survive the holiday season, I have to pace myself. I know when my upper back starts to hurt, it’s time to rest. I’ve learned to listen to my body and respect it. I don’t push it if I need to function the next day.

I’ve learned to ask for help. There is nothing wrong with asking your guests to bring a dish to pass or some wine or beer to share. Handle the main dish and have everyone bring an assigned item. Use shortcuts. Buy those prepared meals from your local grocery store that you just reheat and serve. Buy the pre-made gravy from the deli at your supermarket and the mashed potatoes, too. Heck, they usually taste better than what I can whip up from scratch anyway.

When you do your grocery shopping, use the order online and deliver to your home or car option. I don’t have a problem ponying up another $5 to save the time and energy I’d expend doing the actual shopping myself, especially this time of year when the stores are packed.

Speaking of shopping, I buy most of my Christmas gifts online. I prefer online stores that have brick-and-mortar counterparts and allow free returns.

I’ve had to turn down hosting holidays in the past because I wasn’t physically able to it. Never be afraid to politely decline due to your health. If they don’t understand, that is their issue. Don’t cause yourself excruciating pain to appease others. Don’t ruin your holiday to make others happy.

When I am lucky enough to be a guest and I’m asked to bring a dish or dessert, I usually bring a nice pie or some cookies from a local bakery. If I can buy it, I do.

I’ve also learned not to let depression ruin my holidays. I let it for many years and missed out on enjoying  time with my loved ones. No more! It is very easy to let the stress of the holidays and FM get to you. If you need to, talk to friends, loved ones or lean on support groups or hotlines. Don’t let this illness ruin your holiday.

Don’t stress. Ask for help, do as much prep as you can prior to the big day and don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t get overwhelmed to the point it ruins the time you get to spend with your loved ones. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Get a massage or treat yourself to a nice bubble bath and some peace and quiet. Give yourself the gift of relaxation. You deserve it!


Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.


  1. Denise Bault says:

    You hit the nail on the head with some great advice. I would also suggest putting yourself first BEFORE all else. For some of us, that will be something entirely new. I know it’s hard to go from being a perfectionist to one where things are “just good enough.” But as they say, “People won’t remember if you have a little dust on your table, but they will remember your presence and laughter!” I am unable to even put up decorations this year. Oh well. Maybe next. At least I won’t be worn out from putting them up and taking them back down. And I can see my neighbor’s out my window.
    My Christmas wish for all of us is to find a CURE!
    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

  2. Julie Rash says:

    Totally agree. If you have to host, spend the extra for items you don’t really have to cook (precooked ham, BobEvans mashed potatoes are fabulous, pie, rolls, etc.). Set the table 3 days in advance. Do all your shopping online and wrap with bags. I hardly “wrap” any presents anymore. I send an emailed card with Smilebox every year instead of writing cards. If people don’t understand, that’s their issue not yours. Happy Holidays to every fibro warrior!

  3. Kelly says:

    I disagree about the prepared food. I find that a home cooked meal makes me feel much better than something store bought (and possibly with tons of unnecessary and unhealthy ingrendients). It is just a mater of finding someone to cook (my mom lives with me and does the cooking and cleaning).

    • Carrie Anton says:

      Some people may not be able to find someone to do the cooking, like me. Sometimes you have to do what you can to get by. I get my prepared meals from a co-op so it is healthy. If I could afford it, I’d pay someone to clean my house, but that isn’t an option either. Some of us don’t live with someone who can help us out with cooking and cleaning so we have to improvise.

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