Lupus and Holiday Stress
The holidays are here and ‘jingling along the way with them’ are the mixed Santa’s bag of emotions that creep-up on us during this special season. Along with the good tidings, come the “I-have-no-idea-what-gift-to-buy” worries, the financial woes, the work obligations, the meal-planning insecurities (for everyone’s special dietary needs), the fighting through the frenzy of crazed shoppers for the best deals, the physical and emotional demands of decorating, and the wanted (and unwanted) house guests. For those of you heading out of town, there’s the four missed flights, three layovers, two nap-deprived children, and a partridge in a pear tree!
All of this can, understandably, lead to that pesky thing called ‘holiday stress’. Because stress can be a trigger for lupus, worsen flares, and has been linked to increased intensity in pain, stress avoidance is helpful for everyone, especially lupus sufferers. Our blog on the Mind/Body Connection is definitely worth a read to better understand this link between stress and its effect on the body.
Sadly, we cannot avoid stress outright, because it is ever present in our daily lives, and it is hugely amplified during the holiday season. Our aim is learning to utilize techniques that minimize the negative impact of stress on our bodies and finding ways to deal with the unavoidable stress.
TIPS ON HOW TO FIND THE JOY IN THE SEASON
- Attitude of Gratitude: When you wake up in the morning, no matter how overwhelmed you may be feeling by holiday stress, say these words to yourself “I CHOOSE JOY.” Then, try making a mental list of 5 things you are thankful for. Author M. J. Ryan, who wrote the book 365 Health and Happiness Boosters explains, “If you only focus on what’s wrong, you will not experience joy. You will experience discouragement, depression, and low self-esteem. But when you focus on what’s right about a situation—the exact same situation—you’re increasing the possibility that you will experience joy and high happiness.”
- Praise yourself for who you are, not what you do: For many who are diagnosed with lupus, the holidays may look or feel different after your diagnosis. You made need help with the meal preparations and gift shopping. The way you feel may dictate whether you can do all the things you want to do this season. Don’t let it steal your joy! Owning the realization that your value is not in what you do, can help you to not feel defeated. Author Max Lucado once stated, “You are valuable because you exist. Not because of what you do or what you have done, but simply because you ARE.”
- Let go of past hurts: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “Look not mournfully into the past, it comes not back again. Wisely improve the present, it is thine…”. If you spend your time mourning what could have been and focusing solely on your limitations you miss out on the joy of the holiday season. Also, if you spend your time thinking about things that others have said that have caused hurt and anger, that steals your joy too.
- Love Thy Neighbor: One of the best ways to break yourself of focusing on your holiday stress, pain or depression is to focus on serving someone else. A study done at the University of Virginia found that merely witnessing acts of kindness, loyalty, and heroism created a significant elevation in mood and increased the desire to perform good deeds. According to happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, those that participate in helping others have a generally more joyful attitude. She states, “There are lots of consequences that come from showing kindness that make you happier and help you stay happy.” She adds, “…and being happy is the key antecedent to joy.” Whether it be serving at a soup kitchen, making gift boxes for those in need or helping someone in your family, showing kindness can reap joy and allow you to look back at this season of giving with fondness.
TIPS ON HOLIDAY FOODS TO PREPARE FOR THOSE WITH LUPUS
Though some doctors believe that there is only anecdotal evidence that certain foods can affect lupus symptoms and increase inflammation, those living with lupus would beg to differ. Many people have found that the Paleo Diet and the Anti-inflammatory Diet are helpful to follow, even during the holidays. Here are some suggestions for lupus-friendly holiday foods:
- Garlic Mashed no-potatoes with cauliflower
- Winter Squash
- “Crustless” pecan pie
- Homemade cranberry sauce
- Veggie and ground pork stuffing
- Walnut, cranberry and avocado salad
Try and stay away from:
- Processed foods
- Artificial sweeteners
- Red meat
- Starchy nightshade vegetables
- Limit your intake of refined carbohydrates
TIPS ON GIFT IDEAS FOR THOSE WITH LUPUS:
Here are our TOP 5 gifts for your loved one living with lupus.
- Hand Warmers
- Easy Grip Jar Opener
- Microwavable Sock Slippers
- Key Turner
- Neck Wrap
Click here for more gift giving ideas (link: http://alyssahollingsworth.com/2013/08/20/10-gifts-for-people-with-rheumatoid-arthritis/)
This article from the Hospital for Special Surgery : Lupus and the Holiday Season: How to Cope with Stress is a great guide for how to deal with and even avoid some of the stress that comes from the holiday crazies. It is filled with tips and advice we think you will find helpful this holiday season and for the ones to come.
And from all of us at Molly’s Fund Fighting Lupus, we wish you a joyful, fun and relaxing holiday season.
Season’s Greeting from Molly’s Fund Fighting Lupus!
Updated December 2016 by: Kelli Roseta