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  • Writer's pictureJessica Frizzell, PA-C

How to Set Realistic Expectations for your Rheumatic Disease During the Holidays

Can you believe it’s November?! The hustle and bustle of the holiday season are upon us, and 2022 is right around the corner.

For many, the holidays are packed with happiness, food and fun. But for others, this time of year is full of heartache, unmet expectations and exhaustion.

When living with a rheumatic disease, everyday life can be enough of a struggle. Once you add in the craziness of the holiday season, then life instantly can feel downright unmanageable.

What’s the solution?

How can you survive the chaos that inevitably comes with these hectic months?

The Holiday To-Do List

From family festivities and friend gatherings to work parties and school celebrations, I think we can all agree that our schedules tend to be busy and overbooked from October to January.

Unfortunately, holiday get-togethers become stressful when battling a rheumatic disease. There are too many uncontrollable components - the time of day, the location, the food selection, whether there will be seating available or standing-room-only - that make it difficult to know if such an event will be tolerable (or have you regretting it all the next day).

As these hectic holiday happenings begin to roll out in full force, how can you prepare to stay afloat?

When everything will feel out of your control, here is a list of what you CAN control:

HAVE A PLAN. Start with Plan A, but don’t be alarmed if you have to pivot to Plan B or even Plan C. Reach out to the host/hostess beforehand, and ask questions about the gathering. With that information, comprise a plan that you believe will set you and your rheumatic disease up for success.

FORGIVE YOURSELF. It’s okay to be okay when you are forced to change up your original plans. Perhaps the event is not what you anticipated or maybe you had a rough day leading up to it, so allow yourself some flexibility.

BE AWARE OF YOUR LIMITS. You know yourself best. You know your limitations and abilities, and how they ultimately impact your capacities. Do not overexert yourself.

SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS. What is right for you may not match what is right for another party-goer. It is crucial to mentally set expectations that are emotionally sensible and physically practical.

TAKE TIME OFF. If you need a break, step away from the crowd for a minute. A breath of fresh air can do wonders.

MAKE SURE TO PRIORITIZE. Taking on too much always seems to backfire. If you have one event after another, you might have to pick and choose which one is important to you.

BE HONEST. Communicate with family and friends what you are feeling and what you can (or cannot) accomplish. Outline to others how you are doing and what they can expect from you.

RECOGNIZE THE POSITIVE. Dealing with rheumatic disease is undoubtedly hard. While it might seem impossible, find the positive in life as well. Put mental energy into identifying the good and let that be your drive and focus.

DON’T FORGET SELF-CARE. Amidst it all, be sure to set apart time for yourself. You will benefit from recharging your battery.

COVID (as always…) Are you vaccinated? Do you know how many others you may interact with who are? We do advise vaccination, and also recognize that some rheumatic diseases and treatments may increase COVID risk and also reduce vaccine responses. If you are like us, you are ready to move on, yet we should still consider safety. We don’t have a right answer, but we do advise vaccination for yourself and ideally those you will spend time with. We just ask that you give consideration...

The holidays are coming and these tips are here to help set yourself and your disease up for success during the next couple of months.

Now is the time to prepare. Take control of what you can in order to set yourself up for success. Your rheumatic disease does not need to keep you from experiencing a fulfilling and meaningful holiday season.

May you enjoy this wonderful time of year, and Happy Holidays from the healthcare team at Paducah Rheumatology!

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