Holiday Burnout When Living With Chronic Illness

December 6, 2022

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but pain. And fatigue. And holiday burnout. Follow these tips to celebrate the holidays the way that feels best for you.

Based on an original article posted Here, written by Courtney Smith

Does the Christmas season tend to leave you feeling overwhelmed and both physically or emotionally exhausted? There’s a word for that, and it’s called holiday burnout.

The holidays are supposed to be a time for joy, celebration, and reconnecting with loved ones. For others, it can evoke a range of uncomfortable feelings. And sometimes even if you are a Christmas person it can sometimes be too much.

What Is Holiday Burnout?

Holiday burnout is a term referring to the overwhelming emotional feeling one feels from expectations and pressures during the holiday season. It can be influenced by multiple factors – from adjustments in daily schedules, family or interpersonal conflicts, familiar and friendship expectations, even mental health concerns and more.. For those living with chronic illnesses such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, & MS, the pressure to keep up can feel even more overwhelming.

In an attempt to create memories and maintain traditions and customs, one may ignore their mental health or one may even feel their mental well-being is ignored by others during this time of year. This can cause the holiday season to be more stressful than joyful.

Common Symptoms

You could be exhibiting signs of holiday burnout if you feel any of the following symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed or anxious
  • Prolonged stress
  • Losing interest in things
  • Lack of motivation to do even the fun things
  • Feeling drained after socializing
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Procrastination of Christmas traditions one usually gets joy from
  • A disrupted digestive system
  • Frustration due to the holiday chores or activities

Manage Holiday Burnout When Living With Chronic Illness

1. Make plans in advance

Before committing to any social events or responsibilities during the holidays, be sure to plan ahead and make sure you want to attend the event. Don’t overbook. Whether it’s a party, cooking a large meal, or preparing gifts for family and friends, check to see what feels best for you and your body and plan accordingly. Consider creating a schedule with small and large tasks spaced out to prevent being overwhelmed, exhausted and other detrimental feelings.

Remember, what sounds fun in the moment may not feel manageable in a few weeks’ time.

2. Prioritize self-care

Self-care is essential for all aspects of ones mental and physical well-being, but with all the holiday hoopla, I can gets lost. In the midst of familial obligations, gift-buying, and holiday traveling, it can be easy to lose your sense of well-being resulting in feeling of burnout.

Prioritizing self-care during the holiday season doesn’t have to be glamorous or expensive. It’s all about maintaining your healthy routine with respect to your chronic health condition.

Practicing self-care can be as simple as:

  • Light physical activity like yoga or walking
  • Stay hydrated
  • Listen to your body.
  • Read a book
  • Talk with a friend
  • Colour, paint, draw, crafting
  • Write in your journal
  • Listen to music
  • Brush your teeth
  • Shower
  • Eat healthy, nutrient-dense meals
  • Maintain your sleep schedule
  • Pace yourself & take breaks

3. Set boundaries

With expectations from gift-giving to expected attendance at events with travel time, it can feel uncomfortable to say no to friends & family.

If saying yes makes you feel anxious or overwhelmed, or puts your health at risk, you can say no. Setting and enforcing personal boundaries is a health form of self care. Give yourself permission to say no is empowering. Being mindful of your mental and physical capabilities safeguards your health, avoids feelings of holiday burnout, and allows you to choose to spend the holidays in the way that feels best for you. Rather than pleasing everyone and overcommitting yourself, learn to say a polite no this holiday season.

4. Keep track of your medications

With everything that could be on your plate, it could be very easy to lose track of time and stay on top of the medications you take to manage your chronic illness. To avoid any lapses in care, and ward off feelings of holiday burnout, try setting medication reminders on your digital devices (phone / smartwatch).

Pill organizers can be very helpful as it sets out your medications for each day so they won’t be forgotten. Some pharmacies will provide this service free of charge.

5. Enjoy yourself!!!

With all this talk of burnout and all that could go wrong, remember that the holidays are supposed to be a time of fun for everyone. Don’t forget to have some! 

Whether it’s watching your favourite holiday film, cooking a nostalgic dish, or driving around to look at lights, choose to celebrate the holidays with special activities that are just for you and give yourself a break from all other distractions and pressures.

How Do I Avoid Christmas Burn Out?

  1. Try to start shopping early. On year I started on Boxing day.
  2. Cheat with my baking. I make several different types of cookies each year, but mixing up that many different types can be a little much. Some of my dough is premade. Some of my dough, I will premake & freeze.
  3. Organize gifts. But either the same item or purchase from the same store. One year I bought hoodies for my sister’s family all from the same animal rescue. This year I’m going to an outlet store with the plan to get everyone’s gifts.
  4. Drop certain activities. Sometimes doing Christmas cards just feels too much, so I will either limit cards to a special few or even drop them completely..
  5. Go to the gym. Not necessarily to workout. Sometimes I just got for a hot tub to relax.
  6. Extra self care. Despite how much I enjoy the holiday season, I do tend to stress out. So I make sure I get some extra self-care in and keep an eye on my mental health.

Tips for How to Tighten Loose Skin

December 2, 2022

Skin is typically stretched due to significant weight gain and pregnancy. Skin expansion during pregnancy occurs over a few months’ time and will typically retract within several months of delivery. During significant weight gain skin often loses its ability to retract after weight loss due to damage to collagen, elastin, and other components responsible for elasticity making retraction of the skin more difficult.

Loose skin can be frustrating and have an impact on self-esteem. While there are many ways you can develop loose skin, once you have it, it can be difficult to reverse.

While surgery is one way of removing excess skin, there are multiple ways that the skin can retract naturally. It’s these area I’ll be focusing on, but will touch on cosmetic procedures & prevention tips at the end.

Exercise

Long term excess fat will distend the skin which can cause it to lose some of its ability to shrink with weight loss. Replacing that lost fat with muscle mass can lessen the *appearance* of loose skin.

Massage

Increasing the blood flow to areas of the body can help stimulate an anti-aging response causing come contraction of the skin. Now massage definitely reduces dead skin cells and helps with slight retraction. Unfortunately, with large amounts of skin, my RMT sources can’t see it working with a significant amount of skin

I haven’t done any massage on my problems area, but I have gotten regular therapeutic massages on my back currently & during the later half of my weight-loss journey. It is possible that the skin on my back is not a big problem area for me due to this.

Firming Creams.

Firming cream is one that contains retinoid Retinoids are chemical derivatives of vitamin A and include: retinoinretinoic acid adapalene. They increase the proliferation, maturation, and turnover of skin cells. Creams that contain hyaluronic acid, which attracts and holds onto water molecules. Hyaluronic helps :reduce the depth of wrinkles, increase skin firmness, diminish skin roughness. Collagen and elastin molecules are too large to be absorbed through your skin. In general, collagen must be created from the inside out.

Supplements.

There’s no magic pill to fix loose skin, but some supplements can help

Collagen, which makes up 80% of your skin’s structure, provides firmness and strength. Elastin provides elasticity and helps your skin stay tight.

Certain nutrients are important for the production of collagen and other components of healthy skin:

Protein. Adequate protein is vital for healthy skin. The amino acids lysine and proline play a direct role in collagen production.

Vitamin C. Vitamin C is needed for collagen synthesis and also helps protect skin from sun damage

Omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish may help increase skin elasticity and have anti-aging effect

Water. Staying well hydrated may improve the skin’s appearance. One study found that women who increased their daily water intake had significant improvements in skin hydration and function.

Hyaluronic Acid & Collegen Hyaluronic acid attracts and holds onto water molecules and helps :reduce the depth of wrinkles, increase skin firmness, diminish skin roughness The innermost layer of your skin consists of proteins, including collagen and elastin. Collagen, which makes up 80% of your skin’s structure, provides firmness and strength. Elastin provides elasticity and helps your skin stay tight.

What I’ve Done:

1. When I got my tats last year to keep the skin moisturized & healthy, I used a product called Udderly Smooth® Extra Care 20 , Urea penetrates and hydrates extra dry skin by holding onto water moisturization and giving skin the replenishment it needs. After applying the moisturizer to my shoulder & upper arm, I always had extra on my hands. So twice a day I was applying the extra to my abdomen. This resulted in an increase in firmness as the skin appeared to retract on my stomach. I started having fewer infections at the folds of skin.

I receive no compensation for my endorsement of this product.

2. In the last month, I have started taking the supplement shown below. It contains Verisol Bioactive Collagen Peptides, phytoceramides, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and biotin. Scientific research has shown that these incredible ingredients help maintain healthy hair, skin, and nails, and significantly improves skin hydration, elasticity, and smoothness by reducing wrinkles and promoting healthy collagen production.

For best results, the recommended dosage for adults is 2 tablets 2 times daily. That would make the 120tabley supply for 30 days. Being on a limited budget, I take one tablet twice a day.

I have recently started to notice that it seems to be helping. The skin across my adbomen seems to be tightening up. The skin on my arms, my “bat wings” seem to be less noticeable and wobble less.

I receive no compensation for my endorsement of this product.

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Cosmetic Procedures

While medical or surgical treatments can help improve loose skin, they are more invasive options for tighten loose skin after major weight loss.

Body Contouring Surgery

People who have lost a significant amount of weight via bariatric surgery or other weight loss methods often request surgery to remove excess skin.

In body-contouring surgery, a surgeon makes a large incision and removes excess skin and fat. They then suture the incision with fine stitches to minimize scarring. These surgeries usually require a hospital stay followed by recovery time at home.

Specific body-contouring surgeries include:

  • abdominoplasty (tummy tuck): removal of skin from the abdomen
  • lower-body lift: removal of skin from the belly, buttocks, hips, and thighs
  • upper-body lift: removal of skin from the breasts and back
  • medial thigh lift: removal of skin from the inner and outer thighs
  • brachioplasty (arm lift): removal of skin from the upper arms

Multiple surgeries are usually performed on different body parts over the span of 1 to 2 years after major weight loss.

Body-contouring surgery may improve quality of life after significant weight loss. However, if complications arrise, some quality of life scores decreased in people who had the procedure.

Alternative Medical Procedures

Although body-contouring surgery is by far the most common procedure to remove loose skin, less invasive options with a lower risk of complications include:

  • Radiofrequency treatment. Such treatments may use a combination of infrared light, radiofrequency, and massage to reduce loose skin. While this treatment doesn’t induce weight loss, it may help reduce small areas of fat cells.
  • Ultrasound. A controlled study of ultrasound treatment in people who had bariatric surgery found no objective improvement in loose skin. However, people did report relief of pain and other symptoms following treatment.

It appears that although there are fewer risks with these alternative procedures, the results may not be as dramatic as with body-contouring surgery.

Prevention

There are a few ways you can prevent loose skin.

  1. If you smoke, quit. Make your home a smoke-free zone, so you’re not exposed to it. Consult your healthcare professional about quitting.
  2. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 15 to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, even if it’s cloudy outside. Apply 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours.
  3. Moisture. Using the firming creams above will help elasticity anfer pregnancy and as you are loosing weight. You don’t need to wait until you get loose skin to help prevent it.

November is RSD/CRPS Awareness Month

November 29, 2022

RSD stands for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy which is an order term for CRPS which starts for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. November is the awareness month for this multi-named chronic pain condition . See the images below for more information..




One Upmanship

November 22, 2022

I read an article recently entitled Why Is My Friend with Fibromyalgia Trying to One-Up Me? and I could totally relate.

I have several friends who are fellow fibromites, women with fibromyalgia, each to varying degrees and varying function levels. I can speak about these issues with them, comparing yes, but also supporting each other. But I did have one in particular that would always work her pain in the conversation and make it sound worse than anyone else’s could possibly be.

This lady who I am no longer friends with works full time because “she can’t afford not to.” While when her & hubby constantly go out for dinner, go to concerts and socialize, and spend money lavishly, it’s no wonder she can’t afford it. But I’m curious as to how bad her pain really is if she works full-time and does all this other stuff. (Yes, I know that sounds a little judgey, but she makes me angry with this behaviour of hers)

She would berate me for not working, for taking disability. I am on both provincial and federal disability supports. Admittedly, I have in recent years, worked the federal, provincial and municipal elections. This is a single day, paid position. Yes, it is a long day. She thinks because I can do those one-offs, I should be able to work regularly. After those single days of work, I’m toast for up to three, four days later, even have been almost bedridden the first day after. How would I be able to work a regular job if I’m in too much pain & too exhausted after a day of work to even do the very basic daily activities of living?

Even tho we were good friends, she never saw me when I was feeling poor, and didn’t even talk much when I was, at one point, bedridden. So, while she is comparing, she’s not accurately comparing what my true issues are and even then, most of them are different from hers.

She doesn’t really understand that it is not a competition..

I also addressed this topic in a previous post, My fibro is not her fibro.

The Process of Doing Laundry

November 18, 2022

There is something that healthy people don’t realize about those dealing with chronic pain. That is the unrelenting exhaustion that occurs when dealing with and fighting chronic pain. This exhaustion severely exacerbates energy levels so sometimes we can’t do everything in one shot. Laundry is an excellent example of this.

When doing laundry, most people will throw stuff in the wash. When the cycle is done they will throw the clothes from the wash to the dryer and throw in another wash another load to wash. When the dryer is done it will take out the clothes into a laundry basket, fold them, then put them away. Then they repeat as needed.

There’s no way I could do all that. Not with the other things I need to get done in a day. So for me, laundry is a multi-step process.

1. Organizing clothing.

While this is frequently merged with the next step, it isn’t always. If I have a full hamper of clothing, I have to take it all out and separate it into different loads including a gentle load, potentially a white load bleach and then splitting up the colors into two balanced loads. Just the weight of picking up putting down and moving around clothes especially if there’s something heavy like towels, that can get pretty tired and pretty fast.

2. Washing.

From here, I have to get the clothing from the laundry hamper in my bedroom to the laundry room. Fortunately for me my laundry is on the same floor as my bed room. But carrying that much weight and then starting the cycle and making sure all the clothes are in and balanced. Well healthy people don’t think twice about this again it gets really tiring really fast.

3. Drying clothes.

I have a stacked washer dryer so picking up heavy wet clothing from the washing machine and pulling it up above head level into the dryer takes quite a bit of effort. Again most people don’t think twice about something like this. After getting everything in the dryer, making sure all the laundry balls (because I don’t use dryer sheets) are evenly distributed through the load because half the time I forget to do that ahead of time. So this means moving around all these heavy wet clothes, again. Now sometimes it’s a gentle load and that requires me to take things out move them across to the other side of the laundry area and it’s a pretty big space considering, and hang each item up carefully on the drying rack. Fortunately, gentle loads are rarely a big load and lighter in the summer than in the winter.

4. Emptying the dryer.

I can put a laundry basket on top of the washing machine and carefully drag clothing out of the dryer into the laundry basket. This is not the difficult part. The difficult part is bringing it out to the living room which is where I tend to fold my clothes. While they are no longer wet, they still tend to be heavy and I have to carry that from one side of the apartment to the other. Most people don’t think that’s a long distance but when you’re carrying that much weight and yes for someone on chronic pain that’s a lot of weight, that far it can be painful and exhausting. Then if I also have to grab the dry gentle clothing it’s on the drying rack on my way by that makes the basket even heavier.

5. Folding clothes.

I tend to procrastinate, I will admit that so this is partly a problem of my own making. As a result by the time I get around to folding my clothes, I usually have a couple of full baskets of clean laundry. Fortunately I have very little that actually wrinkles. I tend to take my time and organize the clothing as I’m folding it, while I’m watching TV. Watching TV while I’m folding is it good distraction so I don’t notice the pain or the fatigue as much. I will agree that lifting one item at a time and folding it and putting it down it’s not that big of a deal but doing that process over and over and over again for an hour or two, takes its toll. Yes it takes me that long to fold my laundry.

6. Putting Away.

As I fold, I tend to organize everything. T-shirts that go to the dresser together, pants that get hung, go together, hoodies go together, socks in one pile, undergarments in another, and pj’s all together. It makes it easier, but those baskets must also be brought back to the bedroom and the weight can be excessively heavy as I move basket after basket. But again I procrastinate until I’m actually looking in the clothing for specific items.

The issue with putting things away isn’t so much the stuff that goes into drawers, but the stuff that gets hung. I have a walk in closet & most of my clothing hangs from a rod just above my own height. Jean are the worst, not only do I have to get them on a pant hanger correctly, they are also heavier than most of my other clothing & the weight hangs long making it more difficult to maneuver. Especially if I have several pairs of pants, I may not be able to empty all the baskets cuz lifting clothing above my head stresses my arms & back exacerbating the exhaustion of the activity.

Conclusion.

So, not only do I have to do this in steps, resting between, this process can take a few days to work through because the pain and exhaustion severely limits the amount of energy one has.

Get Well Soon

November 15, 2022

I mentioned previous about losing my bff. It was not a death, but an abrupt severing of the relationship.

Recently another friend of mine mentioned that she had posted on her Facebook that she’d had another stroke & that her husband had performed CPR on her while he waited for the ambulance. Dunno the extent of truth in that, cuz she’s always been a bit of a drama queen. But she was definitely in the hospital & taken by ambulance.

Apparently she was home a few days later, so I suspect not quite as life threatening as she alluded to.

Either way, I was driving by her neighbourhood on my way to & from a doctor’s appointment, so I stopped off at Dollarama to get a simple Get Well Soon card. In it I wrote:

“I know we are no longer friends, but I wish you no ill will. I hope you finally get your health issues sorted out. I also hope that you get things resolved with Brett for the long term He’s a good guy. K”

I dropped off the card on my way home. The next days I am informed she has a new post “Whoever is talking about me behind my back, you are welcome to unfriend me.” I guess she didn’t appreciate the card.

The thing she doesn’t realize, if that’s “talking about her behind her back” people have been doing that for as long as I’ve known her.

Last 2 Weeks

November 10, 2022

I went on a bit of a downwards slide on the weekend before Halloween. Found out my ex has a promise ring from his new girl. He proceeds to show it to me, tells me what it is, and realizing his stupidity says, “it’s not what you think it means”. Well it may not mean much to him, but I’m sure it does to her.

She also has to have ordered it while he & I were still together. Not impressed.

Spent the next week either busy af, or just feeling everything. No middle ground. Either complete distraction or completely emotional. No stability.

Slowly been trying to work through my emotions about the end of that relationship this last week.. Ups and down, but they are becoming a little less of a roller coaster. Even small improvement is improvement.

Being Sick with Fibro

October 25, 2022

So i caught a bug this weekend. Stuffy nose, sore throat, head ache, body aches . Never did take my temperature.. & I noticed something .

The Fibro pain isn’t typically everywhere at once.. it’s usually once place or another, not everywhere.. But you add the body aches & every is now hurting.. yuck.

Mental Health is Looking Better!

October 11, 2022

After the worst August on record for me & a severely crappy September, I think I’ve passed the worst. I’m not saying I’m all good, but when ppl ask how I’m doing, it’s gone from Meh to I’m ok.. & occassional “good”..

I’m even dealing with stupid people better.. Well not stupid people, but.. well yeah, some are stupid, but one isn’t. He’s just acting stupid &:immature.

Hope yall are having a good day!

Turkey Day!

October 10, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Fellow Canucks!

I’m enjoying it up at the cottage! Gorgeous day up here today! Been cool for the last few days, but 12° (54° for the Yanks in the crowd) here & Sunny! Enjoy your day wherever you are!