It is Christmas – when the world takes on a loving glow and everyone is excitedly looking forward to parties, carol singing, roaming around lit up streets, gathering with family and friends, eating too many chocolates, and generally eating too much all together……
Except that isn’t the case for many of our members who are dealing with the pain of trigeminal neuralgia. Enduring stabbing pain, having the lightest of breezes or a cold evening trigger pain, dreading talking and eating, and all you want to do is stay quiet, calm and on your own……
So how do we make the most of spending time with family and friends at Christmas and thrive rather than survive. ￼
The following tips may help you create a plan around your festivities
Shop online. This will allow you to avoid stressful traffic and crowded stores. You are also less likely to catch a cold, flu or covid when you shop from the comfort of your own home.
Limit gatherings to smaller groups to reduce stress and pain.
Start shopping early and wrap your presents early. If you wrap a few gifts per day vs. all of them at once, you’ll be less tired and less sore from being hunched over.
If you are feeling anxious – pop on your favourite Christmas songs and enjoy the memories, they conjure. Research has shown that music can relax blood vessels and increase blood flow.
Set boundaries around your activities and let your family know what they are, so you can drop in and spend the time that suits you, rather than coping with a long afternoon of festivities.
- Learn what works best for you to reduce stress, sometimes fragrances like lavender can calm your mind, applying firm pressure on the fleshy place between your index finger and thumb, called the Hoku spot for just 30 seconds is believed to reduce stress and tension in your upper body which is used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Take care of your body
The holidays look different for everyone, but they often have a few things in common: too much food and alcohol, and not enough sleep and exercise. These unhealthy behaviours are the perfect formula for triggering illness and pain. To avoid these common pitfalls, take steps to protect yourself and your immune system by:
- Getting enough sleep
- Staying hydrated
- Avoiding large, heavy meals
- Limiting or avoiding alcohol
- Exercising regularly
- Washing your hands frequently
These steps can also help keep other health conditions in check, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Stick to your routine
When you live with chronic pain, routine is key — especially if you take medications or have interventional treatments. Unfortunately, it can be easy for schedules to get disrupted during the holiday season.
To avoid these complications, set an alarm on your phone and checking your medication supply to ensure you won’t run out over the holidays. You should also talk to your provider about scheduling any pain management treatments you may need to keep your symptoms controlled during the season.
As you celebrate the Christmas Festivities, take time to just enjoy those special moments, watching a smile radiate on a child’s face, smelling the food cooking, listening to your family’s laughter, holding the hand of your partner, being present for as long as you are able. The memory of special days can often stay with us long after the tinsel has been cleared away.