Managing chronic pain during holiday festivities

Keep these tips in mind to help manage pain and enjoy time with friends and family.

December 7, 2017 - Author: Gretchen Stelter, Michigan State University Extension

There is so much hustle and bustle during the holiday season, making new dishes, entertaining family and friends, wrapping gifts. When we are under stress to make everything perfect for our families and friends, and it is cold and damp outside, it seems the aches and pains caused by chronic conditions such as arthritis occur more often. 

Although exercise is very important in relieving pain, when we can’t bend down to play with a child, stand for any length of time, or use a knife to prep food for a recipe, the joy seems to leave the holiday festivities. If you experience chronic pain, try scaling back your activity level and simplifying what you do. You will enjoy the festivities and the company of family and friends so much more.

When grocery shopping, try using more bags and carrying fewer items in each. It is not as hard on your body and can cause less pain when you lift a lighter bag. When preparing meals, look for recipes with fewer ingredients. You can also purchase pre-chopped celery, onions and many other vegetables. Perhaps you can ask family and friends to bring the more time intensive and complicated dishes so you don’t need to make them yourself but everyone still gets to enjoy them.

When decorating, make it a community or family affair so you do not have to shoulder the burden alone. That way, you will not have to be the one constantly climbing up and down a step stool. Having less decorations can help people notice the beauty of what you have put out. Many times “simply decorated” is more beautiful and safer than the clutter.

Keep tripping hazards in mind. Make sure area rugs are up. With family and friends going in and out of your home, it is easy for area rugs to curl on the edges and then for you to fall. Don’t have extension cords where you may trip over them, holiday lights are lovely, but not if there is a danger in your home.

When shopping, use a supportive device, such as a walker, walking sticks or a cane if you do not have good balance or you are in pain. Also, wear good supportive comfortable shoes. High heels or flats give very little or no support and therefore pain in your knees, hips and back becomes excruciating.

Enjoy the holiday season but be mindful of your own needs. When you are in less pain or less risk of injury, you can enjoy time with friends and family even more.

Tags: chronic disease, food & health, msu extension

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