Managing Stress and Chronic Disease During Thanksgiving

The holiday season is never easy when you have a chronic illness. Every year you want it to be the most beautiful time of the year, but stress from travel, family gatherings, and large unhealthy meals can cause brain fog, fatigue, pain, depression, and worst of all, disease flare-ups.

To help you minimize holiday-related stress and avoid potential flare-ups, we’ve put together a list of practical stress-soothing tips so you can enjoy the holidays regardless of your chronic condition.

Watch the Video: Managing Stress and Chronic Disease During Thanksgiving.

Tips to Reduce stress During Thanksgiving 

When we allow stress to build up, it’s hard to stop and regroup, and we can end up getting caught in a downward spiral of negativity, which will inevitably worsen chronic disease symptoms.

This year make sure you prepare ahead and prevent stress before it happens.

Be Honest About Your Feelings and Health Needs

Being honest and upfront about your health needs and feelings is not being selfish. For example, when going to a thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s or relative’s home, let the host know in advance if you are dealing with pain, fatigue, or another disease symptom.

Let them know if you will only be staying for a few hours or have any dietary restrictions.

On the other hand, if you are hosting this year, don’t be afraid to ask for help. People can be understanding when you share your feelings, health limitations, and needs with them. 

Be Realistic

Celebrating Thanksgiving doesn’t mean everything has to be perfect. Your needs may have changed and that is ok. 

If you are driving long distances this year, make sure you frequently stop to rest, stretch and hydrate properly. Remember, sitting for long periods can aggravate joint pain.

Don’t overextend yourself if you have pain or fatigue. Make sure you get plenty of rest. Don’t feel bad about having to skip out some family activities.

Don’t Abandon Healthy Habits

Thanksgiving is all about the food, but overindulgence can leave you feeling guilty and can increase the risk of a disease flare-up. 

To help you stay on track, try these suggestions:

  • Have a healthy snack before you sit down to eat. This will help curb your hunger
  • Avoid foods you know trigger symptoms
  • Continue with regular physical activity routines
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Try deep-breathing exercises or meditation when you are feeling overwhelmed
Schedule Brain Breaks

Mental exhaustion and brain fog are not uncommon among chronic disease patients and the stress from the Thanksgiving celebration can leave you feeling burned out and irritable. 

Mental breaks are just as crucial to your health and wellbeing as physical breaks. So during the Thanksgiving holiday, make sure you schedule a few mental breaks a day. This may include watching funny videos, reading, listening to your favorite music or just spending some quiet time alone.

This Thanksgiving, try focusing on the good things in your life. When dealing with a chronic illness, it’s easy to concentrate on how your life has changed because of your disease and how much pain it causes you. Taking a moment to reflect on all the good things you have going on in your life can help relieve stress and improve your mood.

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