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Four Tips to Outlast and Outwit a Fibro Holiday

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By Celeste Cooper

It’s no secret that those of us living with fibromyalgia have difficulty with short-term memory, putting common phrases together, or retaining our thought to the end of verbal expression. Maybe it is the signaling in our brain, which they say looks more like razor wire than a highly organized conduit.

But, should we throw up our hands and say, forget it? Pardon the pun. No! We need to feast at the table of self-worth and create a pattern of personal power. The holidays are the perfect time to start.

A long time ago, I read an article in Oprah Magazine. I don’t remember the title or the author, but two words stuck in my mind, clutter and chaos. I like being organized and wanted to be better at it. But that isn’t what I learned. Instead, I found clutter and chaos to be metaphors present in all life challenges—for anybody. Don’t believe me? Look around. The holidays are littered with clutter and chaos, last minute shopping, standing in line at the post office, rush hour traffic all day every day. Acting without a plan will put the greatest athlete or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company on their knees. So, why wouldn’t we fibro folks need a strategy that we can improve on, like forever?

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”
~Helen Keller

Following are four tips for getting the MOSTTT this year:

1. Minimize

If we have too many choices, we probably have clutter. Purging our brain files, our cabinets, and our closets of unnecessary thoughts and things simplifies our decision making and helps us manage our time.

Of course, we will never be rid of all clutter; after all, writing a “things to get done” list, preparing holiday dishes, making a gift or putting one together all create a certain amount of mental and physical untidiness, but it also means we are thinking and doing. So how do we know when we cross a boundary?

When clutter causes chaos, frustration, and stress, we are not living minimally. For instance, is there a holiday sweater that no longer fits hanging in the closet? Wouldn’t we feel better if we gave it to someone who can wear it? Are we fixating on problems instead of plans? Wouldn’t this time be better spent formulating our P2P, plan to prioritize?

2. Organize

Once we minimize, we have less to organize and more time to do it. Having one of something means it can only go in one place. So, put it back from whence it came. Don’t have a certain place? Make one.

Fibro tip: Use visible labels. In our quest for optimism, we want to remember, so save the frustration. There is another caveat:  visual reminders show our housemates we are doing things to manage better, and they don’t have to ask so many questions.

3. Set limits

The litter of holiday clutter and chaos affects everyone. Clutter and chaos are an inevitable truth when there isn’t a plan. A good plan has objective and manageable goals AND limits. Knowing our abilities and limits improves the likelihood of balancing our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs.

Overdoing is not an attribute of self-empowerment for anybody—ANYBODY! We have learned about coping with chronic illness. We, of all people, should have this one covered.

4. Remember the three Ts

Everyone seems to be in a hurry these days, but it is particularly true this time of year. It’s evident that procrastination is nobody’s friend. Challenge your fibro brain. Allow an extra 30 minutes to do something that normally takes an hour. Prepare dishes that can be done in increments. Plaster these three words to the mirror you look into every day.

THINGS — TAKE — TIME

According to ancient history, Rome was founded in 753 B.C. The city stands today and has never been completely finished. Like Rome, we can’t expect to reach the finish line of perfect personal management. But also like building Rome, we must lay a brick every day.

Conclusion

Having a well-practiced plan minimizes the effects of holiday stress. But, we shouldn’t stop when the bell tolls on the last midnight of 2016. Instead, we look forward by building a sturdy foundation that will carry us throughout the New Year and all those to come. Don’t expect an empty in-box, because… well.

Have a happy and safe holiday.


 

Celeste Cooper, RN, is a frequent contributor to ProHealth.  She is an advocate, writer and published author, and a person living with chronic pain. Celeste is lead author of Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain and Broken Body, Wounded Spirit, and Balancing the See Saw of Chronic Pain (a four book series). She spends her time enjoying her family and the rewards she receives from interacting with nature through her writing and photography. You can learn more about Celeste’s writing, advocacy work, helpful tips, and social network connections at CelesteCooper.com.

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