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Readers Respond: Get Through the Holiday Season With Fewer Symptoms

Responses: 19


Updated August 26, 2009

The holiday season is particularly busy and stressful -- and that can get fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms in an uproar. Share the things that have helped you celebrate with fewer consequences, and also learn what's helped other people like you.

FMS Worse Every Year

As someone else posted, the fibro is much worse this year than last, last year than the year before, etc. This year it's really bad. Any major activity & I'm down for a couple of days. I also have agoraphobia, but fortunately have a wonderful husband. I make the grocery list each week, he goes shopping. This will not change for the holidays. I have asked him to set aside a couple of hours between Thanksgiving & Christmas to take me in to one particular store & see/smell the holiday decorations. Internet shopping is the best thing for me, but I do miss the store's decorations. I try to have him drive me around 1 night to see the homes decorated. I will do the family dinners, my biggest helper (youngest daughter) will not be here this year so hubby knows he's going to have to help much more. I enjoyed the article. I am a list maker & I found a lot of helpful info here. One thing I already decided is less gifts for all. A few larger/nicer gifts for grandkids & cash for adult kids.
—Guest Tressa

A Fibro Holiday

A Fibro Christmas Song ! LOL by Kim A Kazi Valente on Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 3:32am Sing to the tune (Walking in A winter wonderland) Muscle scream can you hear em, No medication can cheer em, I'm up all night I look a fright, My Fibro's Flaring from these Holidays - I decorated a little, Had to stop in the middle, My arms just don't work, my legs started to jerk, My Fibro's Flaring from these Holidays. In the livingroom lays the Christmas tree, It is drying up & it's turning Brown, By the time I start to decorate it, the lights will burn the dam thing to the ground. Later on I'll try wrappin, But I doubt It will Happen, No wonder why Im a grouch, suffering on the couch, My Fibro's ruining my whole Holiday. MY Husband gripes Why isn't it All finished He says Im Not A Jolly helpful Elf! So I hung His Balls up by the fire, Now lets see Him do it all himself!!
—Guest Kim-A-Kazi

Post Holiday Crash

Being a "newbie" I was confident that I was well and over my chronic fatigue after a couple of months of normal energy. Boy..was I wrong as I did my normal holiday routine, conscious of over doing it, stopped the pacing, and now I am paying the price with my fatigue back. My glands started hurting and at least I know now what to do to get back on track and will be more diligent next holiday season. Wish I had read these tips, but the problem was that I was feeling great again and thought this was gone. Lesson well learned...Susan
—Guest Susan

Eating to avoid a crash

I only allow myself to cheat on my fibro diet for one day each holiday. This year it was Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Too much sugar, dairy, wheat, etc. causes a lot of pain for me. If I'm smart I drink a lot of water and take an Epsom salt or detox bath that night to further remove any toxins. All of this lessens the severity of the crash but still allows me to have a taste of the holidays. Knowing ahead of time what days are freebies also keeps me from little cheats every day, which add up.
—Guest Sophie

A new perspective

Learning to not only say no, but recognize the difference between what other want/expect and what is best for me. I moved to Minnesota and my family is all on the East Coast. Two years in a row, I told them I would miss them, but wasn't up to flying, driving to three houses, etc. Plus, I can't fathom crashing at any one of those houses! Bottom line: You don't HAVE to do anything. You don't have to give that gift you want for your nephew if it's too expensive
—Guest Christa


i'm with you... and i'm tired of it. i went to mexico a few years ago 4 times that winter, and while there, forgot i was sick... then came home, and as symptoms started showing up, i thought, oh, that again... i haven't been able to go back for the last 3 or 4 years, but after spending more and more of the oct to mar months more and more bedbound, i'm determined to get to a warm, sunny, humid climate with lots of hours of sunshine everyday, and if it helps this winter, it's going to become my winter regimen.

Getting through the holidays

Are you kidding?!? No. Seriously.....From about mid Nov. til past March I just roll up in a ball & tell people to leave me alone. It works! This includes my birthday on Nov. 30th. ....UGH-O. The world doesn't stop & I don't really think anyone misses me.

Planning Holiday Meals

I love to cook and host holiday meals at my house. We also typically have company stay with us. In order to still do everything I used to do I divide up my tasks. First I develop my menus. Then I locate all of my recipes, print them out, and attach them to my menus. With all the recipes in hand I put my shopping list on a spread sheet with a separate column for each store i.e. groceries, butcher, farm stand, etc. Then I back track and plan to shop at one store each day. I group my cooking for the next few days, so I do all the baking at once, all the side dishes etc. and leave the day of the event for the main dish and setting the table. Once the table is set and the main dish is in the oven, I shower and then put my feet up for an hour or two. Sometimes I can get a culinary student from the vocational program at the high school to come and help with the advance cooking. I accept all offers to help in the the kitchen and keep extra pretty aprons on hand.
—Guest HKott

Thanks Lucy

Lucy, your comment "'I'll just do that 1or 2 more things, or visit 1or 2 more shops, or go up 1 or 2 more aisles - don't!' Thinking this is your cue that you should stop" was brilliant. It just made a lightbulb go off in my head. Finally! I know what you mean. I do think to myself "just one or two more" That's it, that's when I should stop. I've always wondered how far I can push myself and my brain has been telling me this whole time. Whenever I have to think about it, that's it. Thank you.

Count your marbles

To pace yourself, someone on this forum before suggested getting marbles for each hour of the day, then "pay back" one marble per hour of normal activity, 2-3 marbles for an activity of high value and then resting for the time left in the day if there are no marbles remaining. This helps you to remember how to assess the amount of energy you have every day.

I did it!

Finally, after a 2 1/2 serious relapse, I was able to entertain for a holiday meal using some new techniques. Instead of making the food, I ordered an absolutely wonderful "ready to heat" dinner from Peapod and had it delivered the day before. That way I could focus on some decorating which is what I love. I also love to cook, but Since I no longer can "do it all," I to picked my priorities and this was a perfect solution. My husband focused on clean up which allowed me a chance to visit with my family. I would definitely recommend this because it really worked for me!! Happy New Year
—Guest Michelle

Easy Thanksgiving for me

My partner owns a bar. Every year they have a big Thanksgiving there and they deep-fry turkeys and everyone brings something. I don't have to do a thing, unless I feel like cooking something.
—Guest AnnieG123

Holiday Survival Plan - pacing

Beckie P. Stop before you're ready to stop. If you go till you're too tired to do more then you'll crash. When you think "I'll just do that 1or 2 more things, or visit 1or 2 more shops, or go up 1 or 2 more aisles - don't!" Thinking this is your cue that you should stop - works for me. Keep it simple. Decorate - but not as much, celebrate - but not as much, cook if you can - but not as much - just 1 or 2 things. Choose 1 Christmas party to go to and stay a shorter time. Delegate - my husband, daughters, and 1 fiance do Christmas food shopping and meals, and clean up together - I rest and set the table. Husband does tree decorating - I do a little. Gifts - Ask what they want 1st. I use internet/catalogues for home delivery/shop through the year- buying if I see something when I'm out and put away - also means I can avoid Christmas crowds. I shop at times when there's less people - I am good in late afternoon and early evening. Everyone bring some of the food is good too.
—Guest Lucy


With fibro in the picture for the last few years, I have only one word of advice.... "SIMPLIFY!" I know, it's difficult to get over feeling guilty about not setting up three trees or spending weeks shopping or days planning meals... but i think my family would rather see me smiling and relaxed during a more simple celebration... than stressed out trying to do the elaborate ordeal that had been the tradition.
—Guest Lea C.

Pacing, lists, and shopping from home

This holiday I've sworn to make less hectic than previous ones. My fibromyalgia is much worse than it was a year ago and a year ago it was much worse than the year before. You get the point. I decided that this year I'm going to: #1 Pace myself by figuring out ahead of time who needs to get cards and presents. I'm also going to print address labels for Christmas cards because it hurts to write. #2 I'm going to make lists of everything I need, from baking and holiday dinners, to engagements for our family, to presents, to card lists. I'm going to practice planning ahead this year. #3 I'm going to do a lot of shopping online rather than in the stores during the holiday rushes. Long lines and being elbowed around sale items sound less appealing the more I think about it!
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