Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
About MyChronicPainTeam

How to Enjoy the Holidays Despite Chronic Pain

Posted on October 24, 2019

Living with chronic pain may change your holidays, but you can still have enjoyable and meaningful celebrations. Although chronic pain may make some holiday traditions challenging, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy connecting with friends and family during the holiday season. By communicating your limitations due to chronic pain, being flexible, and adjusting your expectations, you can help make sure the holidays are happy and memorable.

Communicate Your Needs
Let your loved ones know that connecting with them over the holidays is as important as ever to you, but chronic pain is making it hard to plan as usual. Stress can trigger flares in many conditions that cause chronic pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia, so you need to put your health first.

  • Don't be afraid to say no.
  • It can help to use direct "I" statements. For instance, "I am not feeling well enough to host this year" is better than "Having everyone over is just too stressful." Communicating in this way makes your needs clear without making others feel accused or burdensome.
  • Even if you usually maintain healthy boundaries, the holidays are a time when they may be tested. If a friend or family member tries to make you feel guilty for setting your boundaries, gently remind them that your pain doesn't take the holidays off, as much as you wish it did.

Be Flexible
Instead of saying "no," say "yes" to something else. If a family tradition no longer works for you since you developed chronic pain, it may be time to suggest an update.

  • If you can't travel as usual, consider offering to host. Ask others to bring potluck dishes and help clean up so you don't wind up overdoing it.
  • If you usually host the gathering but can't do it this year, encourage someone else to host instead. They may be delighted to welcome everyone to their home for a change.
  • If you always bring a beloved dish, pass the treasured recipe on to a loved one like you would a family heirloom, or shine the limelight on another chef in the family and invite them to bring their favorite dish.
  • If you can't bring yourself to give up the party, think of ways to save time and energy. Use paper plates, plastic flatware, and disposable tablecloths for easy cleanup. Make decorating (or de-decorating) part of the event and get everyone to help. Plan a low-impact meal such as a stew that simmers all day in the crock pot with little prep work or tending.

If it's just not possible to get together in one place this year, consider using a video chat service such as Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime to have a special holiday call on a smartphone or laptop. During a video chat, you can:

  • Watch family open gifts
  • Have them show you the decorations around the house
  • Read a holiday story or poem to the children
  • Sing favorite holiday songs together

Adjust Your Expectations
Even without chronic pain, holidays often come with high expectations that lead to disappointment and stress. Letting go of the illusion of a "perfect" holiday can help you keep expectations realistic and focus on what's most important about the holidays. For many people, that means connecting with loved ones, being thankful for what you have, and finding hope for the new year.

Here are some mindful tips from Johns Hopkins Medicine for adjusting holiday expectations:

  • Accept that your holidays won't be perfect and will be different from celebrations in years past.
  • Focus on what really counts. Find things to be grateful for and look for new ways to connect with loved ones.
  • If you get into a conflict with someone over the holidays, take a few breaths before you react. Try to stay compassionate and react with kindness.
  • As you reflect on last year, be kind to yourself and let go of any negativity. As you look forward to next year, make smaller, gradual resolutions rather than huge goals that will be difficult to achieve.

During the holidays and year-round, the members of MyChronicPainTeam are here for each other. Joining MyChronicPainTeam means gaining a support group of thousands of others with chronic pain who understand exactly what you're going through.

Here are some conversations from MyChronicPainTeam members about navigating the holiday season with chronic pain:

Have you found ways to celebrate the holidays despite chronic pain?
Share in the comments below or post on MyChronicPainTeam.

A MyChronicPainTeam Member said:

Hi all, I try hard not to complain, But some days, it's just too much, I am CMT, a neuromuscular disease, so I deal with nerve & muscle pain, then I… read more

posted 3 days ago

hug

Recent articles

Msl af mychronicpainteam juliette
Getting a bout of pneumonia or having surgery can render a person miserable for many days or...

Member Spotlight: The Ongoing Grief Cycle of Life With Chronic Illness

Getting a bout of pneumonia or having surgery can render a person miserable for many days or...
Coronavirus
Article written by Kelly Crumrin Those of us living with pre-existing conditions such as chronic...

Canceling Is Kindness: Keeping Safe From COVID-19 With Chronic Pain

Article written by Kelly Crumrin Those of us living with pre-existing conditions such as chronic...
Mht ad treatments squareformat
Article written by Kelly Crumrin Depending on the underlying cause of your chronic pain (if any...

Treatments for Chronic Pain

Article written by Kelly Crumrin Depending on the underlying cause of your chronic pain (if any...
Mht ad overview thumb
Article written by Kelly Crumrin Chronic pain is defined in different ways, but most often it is...

Chronic Pain – An Overview

Article written by Kelly Crumrin Chronic pain is defined in different ways, but most often it is...
Mht ad cause thumb
Article written by Kelly Crumrin If two people sustain the same type of injury or undergo the...

Causes of Chronic Pain

Article written by Kelly Crumrin If two people sustain the same type of injury or undergo the...
Mht ad thepathtodiagnosis2 thumb
Article written by Kelly Crumrin In many people, chronic pain is never diagnosed as a disorder on...

Chronic Pain – The Path to Diagnosis

Article written by Kelly Crumrin In many people, chronic pain is never diagnosed as a disorder on...
Mht ad symptoms thumb
Article written by Kelly Crumrin Chronic pain comes in many varieties. People with chronic pain...

Symptoms of Chronic Pain

Article written by Kelly Crumrin Chronic pain comes in many varieties. People with chronic pain...
Mht ad types thumb
Article written by Kelly Crumrin There are several different ways to categorize types of chronic...

Types of Chronic Pain

Article written by Kelly Crumrin There are several different ways to categorize types of chronic...
Setting intentions for 2020 with chronic pain
Eat healthier. Exercise more. Learn a new skill. Pay off a credit card. Many of us have made...

Setting Intentions for 2020 With Chronic Pain

Eat healthier. Exercise more. Learn a new skill. Pay off a credit card. Many of us have made...
Msl af mychronicpainteam susie
I believe that I was born with chronic pain. I was born very pigeon-toed and had wood braces in...

Member Spotlight: What It’s Like to Live With Chronic Pain

I believe that I was born with chronic pain. I was born very pigeon-toed and had wood braces in...
MyChronicPainTeam My chronic pain Team

Two Ways to Get Started with MyChronicPainTeam

Become a Member

Connect with others who are living with chronic pain. Get members only access to emotional support, advice, treatment insights, and more.

sign up

Become a Subscriber

Get the latest articles about chronic pain sent to your inbox.

Not now, thanks

Privacy policy
MyChronicPainTeam My chronic pain Team

Thank you for signing up.

close