It’s the day after Christmas and I know I am not the only one feeling sore and zapped of energy due to fibromyalgia or even due to the emotional expenditure that can come with the holidays. For some of us, it takes a proactive approach to recovering from the holidays.
I personally had a wonderful holiday and even though it was a good one, I am still feeling sore in my typical sore spots. For me, it’s my hands, arms, neck, back, legs and often and accompanying headache (which I thankfully do not have at the moment!). Additionally, I am very fatigued and feel as if all I can really muster today is a movie marathon. (likely to be Disney movies at my house) Lucky for me, I am not in severe pain, just aching and sore. But that may not be the case for you, you might be feeling really icky after an extremely busy few days prior to Christmas and on the big day itself.
If your day was exceptionally emotional you may be feeling depressed, sad, anxious or even angry. It’s certainly not unusual for the holidays to bring up difficult family issues and challenge us with dynamics that are trying at best. So now, it’s time to recover emotionally, too. If depression is something you struggle with regularly or on a recurring basis, it’s important not to allow negative thoughts and emotions take up residence in your head today.
I thought I would add my ideas on ways to recover as well as direct you to some other resources that I have found and believe are helpful.
1. Focus your thoughts on the positive, reflect on the good moments and memories that you can hold onto for the future. You may have had a tense meal, but maybe everyone was jovial and polite during your gift exchange. Some of my favorite moments are when the children (and adults) are opening gifts, watching their expressions and hearing them share their excitement. Giggles, screams, requests to hurriedly get the present out of the package, are all delightful sounds and moments to remember. Or maybe, the meal was the best part and you can think back on the yummy treats you enjoyed, savoring the taste and memory of family tradition. The decorations themselves can be a source of joy, recalling the flicker of the lights on the tree or candlelight throughout the house, spending time reflecting on these things warms my heart, maybe it will yours as well. If you want to take it an extra step, journal the happy moments so that you can keep them longer.
2. If there were uncomfortable, tense or confrontational moments, then perhaps you could take some time to process the situation and work to gain some insight into why things felt as they did. You could look for ways to better handle the situation if it were to happen again, or you can work on different ways of setting boundaries for yourself so that you may be able to avoid those kinds of situations altogether. No matter what, if you take time to do this, it’s important not to focus on the negative but to look for solutions and how to improve the situation rather than ruminating on it.
3. Self-care: Put pampering high on the list today and for the next couple of days ahead. You may need an extra large dose of relaxation and that’s okay. Be as gentle as you can with your body and take time to restore. Make sure to include some movement into your day as well. From what I am learning, movement is essential to keeping the pain at bay, it seems almost counter-intuitive, but it truly does help. Yoga, stretching, a short walk, can all be gentle ways to incorporate movement into your day, even when you feel icky. I personally like to play on the Wii (Wii Fit and Wii Sports Resort are our favorites right now!) for a little while with my family to get my body moving, if I can, and if I am not feeling up to something more vigorous.
4. Make use of left-overs! If you have the opportunity to save left-overs from the holiday meal it can be a great saving grace for the days of restoration to follow Christmas. It can bring back some happy thoughts for us that associate food to good memories (not always the healthiest thing, admittedly) but it can also be a great energy and time saver. It’s easy for my husband to warm up some left-overs and I can rest or even if I need to do it, it really doesn’t take too much effort. Be careful not to eat all the left-over sugary treats though. I really believe that any sugar overload exacerbates my pain and fatigue.
5. Just be nice to you. You are deserving of special care. We all are. There are usually demands we can’t avoid, like taking care of our children or pets, extended family, etc., but if you can plan for downtime and realize how important it is to the days ahead that you recover, you won’t feel guilty taking time for you. If you start to feel guilty, then remind yourself, you can’t do what you need to do if you are in pain in the days of ahead. I often am struck with the guilt bug, but shoo it away, because we must take care of ourselves in order to be good for the other important people in our lives.
For more ideas and information about recovering from a flare try “Recovering from Flares with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” on About.com’s Fibromyalgia and CFS Blog. I also just came across the newest post there: Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & the Post-Christmas Crash perfect reading for today!
P.S. If you feel especially depressed today, you are not alone. Don’t hesitate to reach out to others, especially others who understand, either online or off. Contact with kindness is a sure mood booster. Surround yourself with people who care, choose humor and some activity that makes you feel good! Try to be proactive for your mental health, it really helps. You can also find community at Una Vita Bella – The Community and meet others who are striving to live a beautiful life with chronic pain and mental health issues.