Mitali Kapila’s Top 8 Holistic Tips to Survive and Enjoy the Holidays if you have a Chronic Illness
The holiday season can be continuously exciting… but especially stressful for those coping with chronic illness. From excessive spending on gifts and dinners, to lack of sleep, to physically feeling sluggish from all of the tasty foods we’ve been eating which may not be suitable for us.
The holiday season is a time that calls for us to be extra kind to ourselves, especially when a chronic illness like autoimmune disease is in the mix. In the United States alone, there are approximately 54 million individuals living with an autoimmune disease that struggle certainly doesn’t stop during this whirlwind time of year.
Mitali Kapila, M.S., R.D.N, is a Registered Dietitian who is a Functional Nutrition expert and works with patients with chronic illness and suffers from an autoimmune condition herself. Below, she’s sharing how people dealing with a chronic illness like autoimmunity can enjoy the holiday season with minimum stress as possible…
Growing up, my holidays were over the top. As a parent myself, I went out of my way to make the entire season from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day extra special. Fast forward to Christmas 2018, I was struggling with my own autoimmune condition and my health and energy plummeted. I couldn’t enjoy the holidays like I used to or put up elaborate festivities for my family.
I realized that as much as I love the memories and traditions of the past, the holidays are about being with family and friends and the spirit of the season — not creating Facebook or Pinterest perfection. I’ve kept that same spirit ever since and am sharing my best practices for holiday survival with you today.
The holidays can be a joyous time — or a time for heartache and struggle. For anyone with a chronic illness, the extra undue stress fuels fire to an already stressful time of year. Here are ten great tips to manage stress and help you enjoy the holidays with your family and friends.
BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE | It can be difficult to advocate for yourself when you feel like you don’t want to disappoint anyone. You are going to get tired. You will probably have food restrictions. What do you need to communicate? Make a list and do it ahead of time. If you don’t speak up for yourself, don’t expect anyone else to. Especially with family, if you don’t tell them that something needs to be different, they will never know.
PLAN | Get out your calendar. Write down all of the known events. Circle the ones you absolutely must or want to go to. Keep in mind your energy level and how many events in a day or week you may be up for.
MANAGE EXPECTATIONS | We live in a day and age where we only see the best side on social media. Whatever you go through on a daily basis with your chronic illness (fatigue, pain, food, etc.), keep your expectations in check. And remember, it may be worse over the holidays due to the increased stress. And please, please, please do not compare yourself to anyone else. Not on Instagram. Not on Facebook. Not your next-door neighbor. Not your sister. Not your best friend. No one.
FIND YOUR FOCUS | Make a list of what’s really important to you this month. Start there. Know your priorities and stand firm.
BRING YOUR OWN FOOD | It’s a lot more acceptable to bring your own food these days. It seems like everyone has some kind of food allergy or nutrition protocol they are on. I may even go as far as to say it’s trendy. Don’t feel like you have to be polite or hurt anyone’s feelings. Bring your own food.
DRINK RESPONSIBLY| Many individuals with chronic illness choose to not drink alcohol. I always ask for sparkling water in a wine glass so I can still feel festive and not have to drink the token bottled water. When offered alcohol, keep it brief and neutral. There is no need to go into details.
BE CONSISTENT WITH SUPPLEMENTS| Digestive enzymes are good to take before and after you eat as preventative measures in case you ingest something that disagrees with you. Keep up with your supplement and medication routine. My favorites are quality Probiotic, L-Glutamine, Vitamin D3, Vitamin C to give your immune system an extra boost amongst many others.
PRACTICE SELF-CARE | The most important piece of advice for anyone with a chronic illness is to practice self-care. Learn to say no if the event or request is not in alignment with your plan. And literally, carve out time for you. Make sure you eat healthy and exercise, even if it’s a gentle yoga practice or walking. Take a nap. Meditate. Schedule a massage or manicure. Carve out a few minutes of quiet. Pick up a good book or watch movies.
Reference: This blog is my personal experience but also was inspired from
Holly Bertone’s blog as published in thechalkboardmag.com. She is the
author of Thriving in the Workplace with Autoimmune Disease.