Slaying Fibro & Other Invisible Illnesses

Encouragement, Tips, and Ideas from One Slayer to Another

10 Tips for Self Care During the Holidays

10 Tips for Self Care During the HolidaysWhen you have a chronic illness or deal with chronic pain, the holidays can take a big toll on our energy reserves. It’s even more important than normal to make sure you give yourself time for some self care.

Let’s review: Self care covers all those things that you to reduce stress, give your body rest, and take care of yourself.

I know that the holidays don’t leave a lot of time for this, so here are a few fast tips to make sure that you give your own body the gift of time this holiday season.

Stop right there! I want to give you an eBook for FREE. CLICK HERE to get your free copy of Self Care 10 Ways.

Here we go…

Tip #1: Write down your schedule.

It sounds silly, but how many times have you overbooked yourself because you forgot you told someone yes? Write it all down so you can see where you need some breathing room.

Tip #2: Plan easy meals.

Most families have traditional dishes that they make on the holidays. Sometimes these dishes only come out once or twice a year because they are more difficult or more time consuming to get to the table. If this sounds like you, make sure that the days leading up to and after a holiday include simple meal plans.

My favorite: Easy BBQ Pulled Chicken

1 – 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1 – 2 bottles of a healthy BBQ sauce of your choice (read the label and just say no to high fructose corn syrup!)

Throw it all into the crock pot. If you have some sauce left in the bottle, add some water and swish. Make sure your chicken is coated. You don’t even have to cut the chicken breasts! Cook on high 4 hours or low 6 hours. The chicken will shred easily with a fork or you can use your mixer (regular beaters) on a medium low setting. I serve it open-faced on some fresh bread or rolls along with a salad and a favorite steamed veggie. So easy. And, it freezes well!

Tip #3: Ask for help.

This one is hard! We don’t often like to admit that we can’t do it all. It isn’t usually a matter of pride but more often that we don’t want to be a burden. This year, let someone bless you with their time and energy when you are running low.

Tip #4: Play lots of music.

Generally speaking, music is good for spoonies (those of us living with chronic conditions.) It helps us deal with pain, it makes our rest more restorative because we relax, and it’s uplifting to our mood. Holiday music also puts us into the spirit of the time, so indulge in it.

Tip #5: Have realistic expectations.

You are only one person. Don’t expect more from yourself than you’d expect from your friends or family. (Another hard one!)

Tip #6: Make a plan that includes YOU.

Think of some ways that you can work self care activities into your day. If you need some ideas, check out my FREE eBook: Self Care 10 Ways. Many of the ideas I share can be done with visiting friends and family.

Tip #7: Buy yourself a gift while you are shopping for others.

Hear me out. I’m not saying that you have to go crazy and spend more money this holiday season. But, a small token of love for yourself goes a long way. If you are out running errands, treat yourself to a medium mocha hoka frappa cino (with caramel!) and actually savor it. Give yourself the gift of enjoying it.

Tip #8: Learn to say NO.

Again with the hard things! I’m really challenging you! Saying “no” is perfectly acceptable – no, preferable – when the alternative to a busy and stressed season is illness and flare ups. It’s a hard thing to do, but that one syllable word will be the most powerful in your arsenal of taking care of yourself. Here’s the funny thing: We’re usually more upset about saying no than the person we’re with is about hearing it. If you need permission…. I give you permission to say no. {gentle hug and high five}

Tip #9: Smile at those you meet!

The holidays are a time where we remember to love our fellow man. It’s also a great time to practice stress reduction… by smiling! Not only will you brighten someone’s day, but you will be lowering your own stress which is a form of self care. There are short-term and long-term benefits that include lowered pain response, a strengthened immune system, and increased circulation which helps reduce tension. You’re smile is pretty rockin’. Show it off.

Tip #10: Just have fun!

Many times I get into trouble when I focus on the events of the holiday rather than the experience. Let yourself relax into the moment and truly enjoy those that you are with. Ten years from now you aren’t going to remember that you didn’t make the apple cranberry tart because you were exhausted, but you will remember snuggling up under a blanket to watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas for the third time in a week. Enjoy life during this magical season.

Guess what?

I’m now on Pinterest! Okay, so “Stephanie” has been on Pinterest for a while, but now has a brand new set of boards designed to help those living with and slaying chronic illness and pain make the most of their time and energy. I’d love it if you would pin this post and follow me.

Leave your best holiday tip and your Pinterest handle in the comments below so that I can follow you!

I hope that some of these tips will help you enjoy the holidays! Wishing you the very best this holiday season. Merry Christmas!

About Stephanie Pitcher Fishman

Stephanie Pitcher Fishman is a writer of fiction and family stories who battles fibromyalgia and other invisible illnesses every day. She’s the author of Finding Eliza, The Widow Teal, and many genealogy guides in the Quick & Easy Guides for Genealogists series. You can find her author page at She writes about her experiences with fibromyalgia at

Taking care of yourself is not optional.

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Slaying your dragon (aka your pain) takes a lot out of you. Those of us with chronic illness really need time to heal and care of not just our bodies but our mind and soul as well. Let me help by giving you my best tips and ideas in my eBook Self Care 10 Ways (When You Just Feel Like Lying in Bed)for FREE.

  • NancyHVest

    Great article. Having realistic expectations is the most important one, in my opinion. All of these are important but the rest hinge on that one.

    • I think so, too, and yet it’s the hardest one for us to put into practice! Wishing you a wonderful week, Nancy!

  • Timely and great article! These busy times are when we most neglect our minds and our bodies. Right now I’m dealing with “depressive tendencies” and could care less about the holidays. Still don’t have the tree fully decorated. So what? Nobody is coming here for any reason.

    • Sometimes we have to say that good is good enough. It doesn’t have to be perfect. We have two little trees up (table top and one that’s about 3′ and requires very little attention. They just went up last night, and I”m ok wth that. This time I had to go slow so I didn’t push a flare into a burnout.

      I hope that you are able to rest, relax, and enjoy the holiday in any way that makes you smile.

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Sherrey. <3

      • Stephanie, your words gave me such comfort and freedom to be me. This morning is a better, and brighter, day. But I know the rollercoaster I ride is always around the corner.

        Resting and relaxing is key from this day forward until January 1st. Content now with not so much blogging and writing posts as I am with planning for the coming year and hopefully a book published!

        Thanks so much for this new and supportive site.

        • I can’t wait until it’s available! You can count on me to help get the word out. You are an inspiration. Keep being you. And definitely rest and relax. Planning will take it along while you rest and recover. (Hugs)

          Thank you for always being so supportive of me!