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Surviving the Holidays When You’re in Pain

Surviving the Holidays When You’re in Pain

What to DO

1. PRIORITIZE. Focus on accomplishing the most important things, and let everything else go.

2. PLAN AHEAD. A large portion of holiday stress comes from the last-minute rush to get everything done. Consider planning your holidays two months in advance, and put your plans on paper.


 Look at each item and ask yourself, “Is this really important to me and/or my family?” If not, take it off the list.

 If it meets the importance criteria, ask, “Can someone else do this for me?” If so, delegate it.

 If not, ask yourself, “What is the easiest way to accomplish this?”

Once you have fine-tuned your list, look at the remaining items and try to accomplish at least a portion of your plan each week. Allow extra time in your schedule so that one or two bad days will not ruin your entire holiday season.

4. TALK. If you’re attending a party or hosting visitors, explain to them ahead of time that your chronic pain can limit your activity and requires you to rest at regular intervals.


 Shop online to avoid getting in and out of cars and to prevent standing in lines.

 Ship gifts directly to friends. Free shipping can save money and reduce the stress on fingers, hands or painful joints.

 Use gift bags. It is easier than traditional wrapping and reduces the chance of cutting yourself.

 Decorate in small doses, limiting the scale to what you can manage.

what NOT to DO

1. Don’t blame yourself if you can’t provide the elaborate holiday festivities you once did; don’t feel guilty because you can’t do everything you think your family expects you to do.

2. Guilt must go when you have a chronic pain illness that limits what/how much you can do.

3. Knowing the priorities and plans ahead of time will prevent disappointment and hurt feelings later.

4. Don’t expect others to intuitively understand. You must communicate with them.

 Try to speak in a calm, logical, factual manner as you make plans or explain your limitations to family and friends.

 Be aware that some people may not understand at first, but if you are calm but firm, most will eventually come around.

 Remember, most of the things you worry about never come true.


 Digital hand-held recorder.

 Microwavable heating wrap.

 Speech-to-text program for your computer.

 Adjustable bed cradle (a framed placed over a bed) to keep covers from rubbing against you.

 Gift subscription to PainPathways Magazine.

 Electric can opener. One that sits on top of the can and fits in a drawer has been the one we’ve found easiest to operate.

 Payment towards a doctor bill.


 Electric toothbrush. {PP}

View more Caregiver Toolbox articles:

Practical Tips for Travel

Saving Energy

Best Resources

PainPathways Magazine

PainPathways Magazine

PainPathways is the first, only and ultimate pain magazine. First published in spring 2008, PainPathways is the culmination of the vision of Richard L. Rauck, MD, to provide a shared resource for people living with and caring for others in pain. This quarterly resource not only provides in-depth information on current treatments, therapies and research studies but also connects people who live with pain, both personally and professionally.

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