Sometimes personal health during the holiday season falls to the bottom of your "to-do" list... but don't let it! Your personal health needs to be at the top, especially if you want to truly be able to enjoy the special days ahead. I am not talking about worrying about needing to loosen your belt because you ate too much pie... I am talking about setting limits, boundaries and being aware of what your body needs in the season of rushing, planning and putting other's need at the front so that you are not left in the dark, literally
1) Don't do it all at once
There is no need to do all of the decorating or wrapping or baking at once. Take your time and do not push yourself. I spent three days doing our decorating and the tree. N wanted me to do it all at once, like any child does, but I knew that it would be detrimental to myself and end up triggering a migraine. Trust me, I love having everything in its proper place but I am learning it doesn't need to happen at the cost of my health. My garland is still not perfect or plugged in and I have two boxes that need to go back into storage... and that is okay!
2) Say No
Several months ago I wrote about the importance of saying no and ways to do it kindly- the holidays are the perfect time to put this into practice. There is an abundance of things to partake in at this time of year, and we usually know the ones that won't benefit us but we go out of a feeling of obligation. If that school concert for your nephew is going to trigger a migraine, don't go. If that restaurant plays music too loudly, ask to go to a different one. If you are simply worn out and need rest, it is okay to say no.
Here is a refresher of the list I put together
15 ways to kindly say no...
1) I wish I could, but I can't.
2) It was very nice of you to think of me, but I can't.
3) No thank you.
4) I appreciate you asking, but no thank you.
5) That sounds nice, but I can't make that commitment right now.
6) It's not a good idea for me.
7) I can't take on any more responsibilities right now.
8) My heart says yes, but my body says no.
9) Unfortunately, it's not a good time for me.
10) I'm going to have to pass.
11) I don't want to say no, but I have to.
12) Please cross me off your list.
13) Possibly a different day.
14) Not right now.
15) I know this is important, but I can't.
3) Don't Rush
Jeremy and I say it to each other constantly, where did the time go? It seems like we just put up the tree and here we are doing it again for a brand new season! Sometimes we all get so busy in the preparation for what is to come that we don't enjoy it. I love the anticipation of Christmas, especially with young children. I work hard not to push myself, I try to manage my triggers so that I can be present and enjoy all that comes with the excitement.
4) Ask for what you need
Lights, music, smells and food come at you during the holidays like a missile. If someone has a Christmas tree with lights set on flash mode and you can tell it's going to be a problem, kindly ask if they can change the setting. If a relative has on too much perfume, kindly move away from them. If music is too loud, kindly ask if you could turn it down. If someone is encouraging you to eat something you can't have, kindly say no. If a conversation is too loud and you need a break, kindly ask for a quiet space to take a break. Asking for what you need can be very difficult at times, especially if you feel like you don't want to be an imposition on your host- however I highly doubt that the friend or loved ones you are with would rather trigger a migraine for you and have feel miserable rather than blow out the candle that is making you sick. The most important thing is to go about asking for what would help you in a kind, respectful way.
5) Be Realistic
In my dream world I would never ever have a migraine on a special day/occasion. However, I do not live in dream land- in this real life I have had countless birthdays, holidays and family days spent in pain because of chronic migraine. I have missed out and it makes me feel guilty. By knowing my body and acknowledging my limits, I can adjust what I need to make our holiday memorable. Our Christmas is very low key, cozy and focused on our family of four. All of our extended family are out of state, so it is easy for us to pair down the crazy pressure that some people feel around Christmas time.