All Is Calm, All Is Bright: Navigating the Holidays with Chronic Conditions

The holiday season can be a challenging and stressful time for relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. With societal pressure to gather and give, along with the difficulties of chronic conditions, it can become overwhelming and trigger emotional and physical issues. However, it doesn't have to be this way. This time of year can also be an opportunity for reflection and a commitment to behaviors that support self-worth and well-being.

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Over the past few years, I have undergone significant changes in my physical, mental, and behavioral wellness through lifestyle changes and self-exploration. These changes have led to weight loss, sobriety, and the management of anxiety through mindfulness and healing practices. Additionally, my psoriasis has gone into remission and related health issues have resolved. However, maintaining my emotional and physical well-being still requires daily intention and consistency. It's easy to get overwhelmed and swept away by emotions, temptations, and expectations during this time of year.

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To better take care of myself, I have learned the importance of setting and maintaining boundaries. This means sticking to my regular eating patterns while enjoying holiday treats in moderation, prioritizing physical activity, respecting my limits, and finding time to relax amidst the hustle and bustle. Emotionally, this involves carefully considering social invitations, saying no when necessary, and letting go of guilt. The festive season often revolves around excessive consumption, which can trigger flare-ups and worsen symptoms.

Effective communication with loved ones and colleagues about my needs and feelings is crucial for building and repairing healthy relationships. It can be a slow process, but expressing my limitations and listening to the needs of others deepens mutual care and intimacy. This openness grounds and empowers me to make choices that support my overall well-being. With heightened stress levels and potential misunderstandings during the holidays, this kind of communication becomes especially important. Maintaining mental health appointments also helps me prepare and take gentle care of myself.

Learning new ways of relating to myself and others is an ongoing journey. Some days I feel strong, while other days my resolve wavers. And that's okay. I'm learning to forgive myself when I stumble, approach each day with sincerity, and embrace gratitude and wonder – essential ingredients for a fulfilling holiday season. My deepest intention is to stay healthy and calm, allowing me to fully experience the warmth and connection that naturally flow during this time of year. I aim to give and receive with integrity and love, without expecting anything in return.