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It’s that time of year where we all have a million and one things to do. Having chronic pain and coping with daily activities can be challenging enough, but when you add the ‘Christmas to do list’ to the mix, then things can get that little bit tougher. Here are a few ways how I am helping myself this Christmas.
Writing daily and weekly to do lists
I love lists; especially ‘to do’ lists. It’s an easy way of capturing what needs to be done at a specific time. I love my Moleskine week-to-view pocket diary as it’s the ideal layout to be able to write down my daily and weekly tasks.
My daily tasks are things I try to do that day, and weekly tasks are things that need doing, but aren’t as urgent or they don’t involve specific deadlines. I’m using this to capture all the things I need to do for Christmas, as well as all my other day-to-day tasks and chores. It’s helping me stay organised and focused, and is also a place to randomly jot something down so that I don’t forget them.
Setting realistic goals
To do lists and goals can be daunting at times. Having a to do list as long as your arm isn’t realistic, so it’s important to set achievable goals and not over stretch yourself.
I’m making sure I don’t have too many things to do each day, and this helps me manage my time and wellbeing a lot better. My Moleksine diary is ideal for this as the day spaces are fairly small. I find the more paper space I have, the more I tend to try and do.
Not pressuring myself
It’s important that I don’t put pressure on myself, as this can cause stress and anxiety, which makes my pain worse. If I don’t get round to doing something on a certain day, then I make sure that I allocate another day to do it so as to not forget.
This Christmas I’ve tried to be ahead of the game by getting things done earlier in December rather leave everything to last minute. This means that my planned deadlines can slip a little if needed. Sometimes my pain and fatigue take over and I’m not up to doing anything. Adding extra pressure is no good for anyone, especially those with chronic pain.
100% is at always required
Sometimes we don’t need to put in 100% effort, sometimes 80% is good enough. It’s always nice to put in that extra effort and get things right first time or as perfect as we want them to be, but this just adds extra pressure when we have enough to deal with, especially at Christmas time.
I wish I was better at wrapping presents and would love to make them look professional. I know I can’t, so I wrap them as neat and best as I can, and add a little bow or ribbon here and there. It’s good enough and the main thing is that they’re wrapped.
With Christmas comes more social events, extra expense, and peer pressure to do things that you may not be up to doing. It’s ok to say no. Everyone is different and isn’t always up for going for that “Christmas drink after work” or buying presents for each other when money is tight. Have honest and open conversations and respect each other’s decisions.
I’m not going to my office Christmas party because I know I’ll struggle with my pain too much. I’ve also decided not to buy some people presents this year. I’ve spoken to them and they’re ok with that. I had no idea what to get them and rather than put energy into coming up with present ideas we’ve said we’ll do dinner in the new year instead. For one friend I’ve said I will donate to money to her charity instead. This is a way of keeping costs down but also benefits her and others.
Making time for me
Every day I am making sure that I have some “me time”. This is time to do the things that I want to do to help me switch off and relax. They’re not always big things – I’m doing some puzzles, watching TV, reading, and I’m hoping to start doing my adult colouring again. All this helps me to be in the present moment and not think about things that have happened or worry about what might happen.
I talk more about doing things we enjoy in one of my previous blog posts.
What are you doing to help yourself this Christmas? What tips or advice above did you find helpful? What tips would you give to others?