New Book Shows To Handle Holidays With An Illness

Holiday concept love composition with heart shape made from christmas lights on grunge wood texture background.

A new book encourages people with chronic illness to stand up and acknowledge their limitations during the holiday season, putting themselves and their health first in the face of family obligations.

Lene Anderson is the author of Chronic Christmas: Surviving the Holidays with a Chronic Illness. Anderson, who lives with rheumatoid arthritis, acknowledged that the holidays can be especially overwhelming for those with a chronic condition.

“Having a chronic illness is already a full-time job on top of all the other things in your life, and there often isn’t room for anything else,” she said to nationalpainreport.com. “And then the holidays arrive, with the expectations of decorations, a spectacular dinner, a pile of presents and all you want to do is nap.”

Utilizing the format of an Advent calendar, the book includes a chapter for each day leading up to Christmas in order to make the process of self-care more manageable. There are also separate sections of the book for people with chronic illness and their loved ones to read.

“The people who love us want to help, but may not know how, and we who live with chronic illness often find it difficult to ask for help,” said Anderson. “The Advent calendar format breaks the overwhelming into smaller, bite-sized pieces, making it easier to do and enjoy. And it’s a great way of building anticipation.”

“Get real about where you want to spend your time and energy, about your limitations, about ignoring the pressure to be perfect,” said Anderson. “Focus on what is quintessentially the holidays to you and make some hard choices about what you won’t do. It will free you up to be where you want to be and might even help you feel well enough to be part of the big celebration!”