Surviving The Festive Season

With the festive season comes additional social events, shopping trips and more. Our tips can help you make the most of the festive season while still managing your arthritis well.

Many people look forward to this time of year and the socialising and hustle and bustle and sparkly décor. For someone with arthritis, while you may enjoy all of those things, it can also be beyond daunting to think of the shopping, the parties, and the social engagements. Just the sight of your overflowing calendar might make you feel tired! 

But living with arthritis doesn’t mean you have to give up the things you want and like. Here are some useful tips to help you enjoy the festive season.

Making a list and checking it twice
Much holiday stress comes from a last-minute rush to get everything done, whether it be shopping for gifts and food, writing Christmas cards, menu planning or getting the house ready for family celebrations. Write down your to-do and to-buy lists. Then, take a close look at your lists, decide what is most important to you, and allow the rest to slide. Perhaps you don’t have to write as many cards, buy or make a gift for every family member, colleague or neighbour, or put as many decorations up this year.

Beating the crowds
Start your shopping as early as you can. Look for sale items in the weeks leading up to Christmas and buy one or two gifts each time you are at the shops in the months or weeks preceding. Phone ahead or browse store websites before heading to the shops, to check they have what you are looking for in stock and at a competitive price. Alternatively, skip the shopping centres altogether and shop online for gifts or vouchers. Many online stores will wrap and deliver your gifts for a small additional cost. You can also order your groceries online, with many supermarkets providing either a pick up or delivery service.

Simplify your season greetings
Start writing a few cards each week rather than trying to write them all in one day. Consider typing a short, newsy letter to insert in each card as an alternative to writing individual messages. A range of fun and interactive e-holiday cards can also be found online, if you wish to reduce a long list of cards that need to be handwritten and addressed.

Breaking from tradition
If entertaining at home is too much this year, consider other options for getting together with family and friends such as a meeting at their place or a local park, or booking a table at a restaurant. Accept offers of assistance (and ask friends and family for help), such as bringing a specific dish or plate of food, or helping you write cards, wrap gifts, decorate the house, or prepare food on the day.

Keep exercise on the agenda
Exercise can easily slip off the to-do list leading up to holidays. Keeping up your usual level of exercise will help boost your energy and productivity, fend off excess holiday weight, and counteract stress. Consider incorporating physical activity into your family celebrations, such as a relaxed game of backyard cricket, or a leisurely walk around the block or down to a park after a festive meal.

Make sleep and rest a priority
Avoid the temptation to cut back on sleep leading up to and during the holiday season. Take regular breaks and pace your activities to avoid excessive fatigue. Schedule a day of rest before the celebrations begin and an extra day or two afterwards to recharge your batteries.

Toasting in the New Year
Take care not to overdo celebratory drinks such as alcoholic beverages, high sugar soft drinks, flavoured mineral water and undiluted fruit juices. Bear in mind, also, instructions regarding alcohol consumption while taking prescription and over the counter medications. Reach for water to quench your thirst, keep cool in the heat of summer, and remain hydrated when travelling.

Fight the urge to overindulge
Sticking to a healthy eating plan can be difficult in the face of end of year parties, lunches and dinners. Stock up on fresh, nutritious foods so that healthy meals and snacks are easy to prepare when you’re at home. When at a party, survey the buffet table or menu for healthier choices or take smaller servings of less healthy options. Treat yourself to an occasional favourite food or restaurant but resist the temptation to splurge every day of the holiday season. Check out our top 10 tips for sticking to your healthy diet here.

Postpone until next year
Family and friends are often keen to catch up before or over the holiday break, making it hard to juggle a flurry of social events with periods of rest and recuperation. Take the initiative to suggest arrangements that will work for you, such as spreading out family get-togethers over several days rather than trying to see everyone in one day. If you’re not feeling up to large gatherings, make plans to catch up with smaller groups of relatives or friends once the silly season subsides.

References: Arthritis NSW: