Coping With Chronic Pain During the Holidays

The holidays are here, and so is the fun!

Right?

Yes, all of the parties, shopping, decorations, events, and presents are good in and of themselves, but they can also cause loads of added stress to your body. And when you’re dealing with chronic pain, that’s no small thing.

Eric Fanaee, MD, and our team in Bethpage, Smithtown, and West Islip, New York, want you to enjoy the holidays, so we put together a few tips to help you cope with potential stress during this season so you can focus on the joy all around you instead of your pain.

Be realistic

Having realistic expectations for what you can handle is the key to managing your body this holiday season. Starting off with unrealistic ideas about what you can and can’t do only sets you up for more stress. 

If you know your physical ability is less than it was last year or your pain stops you from going all out for the holidays, cut back your schedule accordingly — and don’t feel bad about it. You may even want to make a list of what you’re planning to do (and not do) that you can review easily so you’re more likely to stick to it.

Share the load

You don’t have to do everything on your own. The holidays aren’t meant to be a do-it-yourself endeavor, so feel free to divide the workload among family and friends.

You don’t have to cook the entire holiday dinner — assign a dish to everyone who’s coming. Have family members help you decorate. Pay your neighbor kid to shovel your driveway if it snows. Find all of the ways you can to outsource the work so you’re not bearing the load alone and so your body has a chance to relax.

Take regular breaks

If you don’t schedule downtime for yourself, it won’t happen. Plan ahead so you have time every day to rest and relax. Try not to schedule big events on back-to-back days, and remember that you probably can’t keep up the same pace as before you had chronic pain. 

Be proactive about taking your breaks, or your schedule will be full before you know it.

Shop online

Few things are more stressful than shopping in the crowds during Christmastime. If the people and the traffic and the madness are all too much, give your body — and your stress hormones — a break by doing most of your shopping online. You can find most of what you need through online retailers, and it can often be at your house in just a couple of days.

This doesn’t just apply to gifts, either. You can order groceries, decorations, wrapping supplies — even alcohol.

Keep lines of communication open

Even though this tip is last, it might be the most important. Your family and friends love you, so don’t worry about disappointing them if you can’t make an event or fulfill a duty when your pain flares up. Just tell them how you’re feeling and what you need in an open and honest way, and you may be surprised at how well they react and jump in to serve you.

With some planning and lots of self-care, you can make this holiday season more about the joy than your chronic pain. When the pain gets to be too much, Dr. Fanaee and our team are here to help. Just call 631-265-2020 or use our online scheduler

Happy holidays!

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