We are one week away from Christmas, one week and a day from Boxing Day and the start of Kwanzaa, and there are still two days left in Chanukah. Whatever holiday(s) you might celebrate, if you celebrate, I wish you a very happy one.
But not everyone celebrates, or looks forward to the holidays. Some find them too painful, too stressful, too costly, too much pressure, anxiety and/or depression.
I love the holidays, but even I find them stressful at times, and stress is one of the worst things for those of us with Lipedema.
For me stress causes my legs to swell up and become tight and painful. So what can we do? How do we handle the stress during the holidays?
Here are some ideas...
- Physical activity, is one of the best things we can do for our bodies in general, but especially when dealing with stress. It not only gets our endorphins pumping, but it also gives us back some feeling of control, we feel stronger and less like a victim.
- Stretching is also good, or a warm shower, even a nap, as they all help us to relax our muscles, which we tense up when stressed.
- If you find you cannot steal away for some physical activity, to stretch, shower, or nap, maybe find a place you can be alone for five minutes (ten would be better) and do some deep breathing. Maybe you forgot the cranberry sauce (hint**hide the cans you actually bought a week ago) and take a quick trip to the store; or maybe you are missing those much needed candles and recall you had some in the attic or in the shed.
- Acknowledge what is causing you stress, talk about it with someone, if not in person, hop on facebook or phone a friend who might also be having some "relative" stress. If you can keep it positive (think affirmations over memes), you can actually reduce it, but rehashing all that is going on to cause your stress in the first place might just send you deeper into it.
- Be gentle on yourself, remind yourself it is for one hour, one day, one weekend, whatever duration it might be and plot out how you get through the moment you are in, not the entire duration.
- And the best bit of strategy, if all of the above fail, is to do as Jerry Lundegaard did in Fargo, and simply flee the scene. Bail. Escape. Leave. We are our own protectors, we do not have to stay in a situation that is uncomfortable, causing us harm emotionally or physically, and we have every right to take ourselves out of the environment (or ask those in our home to leave). If you have to be polite about it, then fake an illness or an injury (yes, stub a toe if you have to), but do whatever you need to so that you can get away from the stressors.
Know you are not alone, and it will get better.
Take care of yourself first, you are top priority. If what I have touched upon is not helping, you feel it is beyond your ability to handle on your own, and you need help, please call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255. They have the tools you need.