My 12 "Yays!" of Christmas: Coping with the Holidays with Parkinson's
I can't believe a year has passed and it was recently Christmas again! Where did 2019 go?!
I absolutely love Christmas. For a small family, we make a big thing about the festive period. And with a new guest in the form of my tiny baby nephew, this year's look set to be even more special.
But even someone as tinsel draping, antler wearing, card making, carol shoutingly festive as me Christmas can often become a little bit too much for my Parkinson's to handle. So, over the years, I have developed ways of staying in tip-top mental, emotional, and physical shape (albeit rounder in some areas due to chocolate consumption) over what can for some be a pretty intense period.
Take advantage of ways to save time
Christmas can be crazy in the run-up and on the big day. There are so many things to organise, so many expectations and other people’s plans to fit into. But there are lots of things you can do to make things easier for yourself.
By shopping online you’ll reduce having to join the chaos in the shops and some of them offer gift wrapping services. If they will also send the wrapped gift to the recipient this can take the stress of if you don’t plan to actually see them. And rather than have to worry about buying for the whole family why not agree on a Secret Santa approach where everyone buys for just one person.
Ask for help & buddy up
When it comes to the festive meal itself that can also become a little fraught if Mr. Parkinson's doesn’t allow you any respite from shaking and stiffness. There are so many great restaurants now offering Christmas lunch. Why not make a new tradition? Let someone else do the cooking or go to a friend’s house and share the workload!
It’s an obvious one, but toes (and everything else) should be kept toasty. Getting ill isn’t going to help your Christmas cheer. Try not to drink too much alcohol if you have social gatherings in the run-up to the big day as this lowers your body temperature and can weaken how your immune system fights off bugs like colds and flu.
Plan your travel
Getting around at the best of times can be tricky. Transport services around the festive period can be unreliable. Always check transportation before you travel. Also, carry medication and a snack/drink in case you get stranded.
Don’t push your luck
On no other day of the year would you visit all your friends in their homes, spend time with your whole family, and prepare and eat a huge dinner. So why do we do it at Christmas time?
Stock up on medication
I know it’s basic stuff, but I have been caught a few times by business closures over the festive period and run out of medication with nowhere to get any from. The local pharmacy might be open but some suppliers might not be. Make sure you get extra before Christmas to be sure you don’t end up without the medication you need.
Don’t over promise
Keep plans loose and flexible so you do not put yourself under undue pressure.
Set time aside for yourself
No matter how much you love or are close to your family, Christmas can be a pretty concentrated time to spend with them. Think about how you can grab little pockets of time to yourself. For example, set your alarm for an hour early and read in bed.
Embrace new traditions
Christmas, like birthdays, can be a really difficult time of year when you are dealing with a health condition. It often becomes a marker for your progression. It is never fun to look back at the year before and remember how much easier things were physically. You may have to stop or adapt some traditions. It is ok to be upset about that, but try to make some new traditions that you can do instead.
Parkinson’s is a difficult condition to live with, but there are always people worse off than us in the world. If you are physically able, you could consider offering to help at a local shelter for homeless people. Or why not swap Christmas cards to emails this year and donate the card money to a charity of your choice?
As a new year comes into view, let us be proud of what we have achieved during the year. Leave behind any negativity and welcome in 365 days shining with potential.
And finally, relax...
Which of the following caffeinated beverages do you regularly consume?