You’ve seen the movies, and you know what can happen. The holiday flurry can sweep you up and throw you into the middle of your bedroom floor in a jumble of wrapping paper, Scotch tape, and ribbon up to your elbows. If you’re not careful that is.

But how about those of us who suffer from any number of chronic illnesses? When the regular holiday-free weeks are enough to lead to exhaustion, the addition of a few major holidays is enough to send many over the proverbial edge!

So how can we prepare for the upcoming holidays while keeping our sanity and perhaps even find time to enjoy them?

Here are a few suggestions that will hopefully ease some of the holiday season stress.

Plan, Plan Some More, Then Plan Again

The key here is: plan ahead. Planning ahead in every aspect, whether with food, shopping, or attending events will help you space out the activity that comes with the season.

There are actually many tools online to help you organize your holiday season, but one stands out above the rest; Frazzle Free Christmas. With a few free plans to choose from they will help you organize everything from gift lists, decorating, baking, and shopping.

But even with the most advanced of planning systems, you must still remember an important phrase for holiday success, “No thank you.” Even the most healthful among us are unable to tackle everything party, concert, shopping trip, and cookie exchange.

Listening to your body, knowing your limits, and planning on choosing your favorite activities first will help you to feel as though you’ve experienced the best parts of the holiday season without overdoing it.


Maybe it was taboo in your school days, but it is a must-do today! There is no law or unwritten rule that says you must bake one of every recipe in your holiday cookbook. Instead look for cookie exchanges and focus on baking several of one type of treat to trade with others.

We are currently living in a Golden Age of shopping and gift buying. With just a few strokes of the keyboard you can find the it toys of the season for the kiddos in your life or the hot electronic gadget for the techie in your basement.

I know we’ve all heard of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that is a shopper’s paradise. But have you heard of Cyber Monday? On the Monday after Thanksgiving online retailers have loads of specials deals just for that day. And while you’ll be able to find many deals online on Black Friday, you can find even more on Cyber Monday.

Do you have gifts to send across the country? Why not look for retailers that will wrap and ship those gifts for you? Even Amazon offers this service for a minimal additional cost. So if you were planning on wrapping and shipping the item yourself, save the cost of additional shipping by having the retailer wrap and ship it direct to your recipient.

Give Yourself Grace

Sometimes the hardest thing to do in the holiday season is to give yourself grace, whether it’s feeling down about not being able to do it all (none of us can), or wishing you could host all of your relatives for a Martha Stewart-inspired Christmas.

Recognizing your limitations, and accepting and embracing what you are able to accomplish in the short season will help you feel more like a success rather than a holiday failure.

Along the lines of giving yourself grace is asking for help. Those around you may not realize that you need help with a particular aspect of the season. You might be able to ask your kids to help decorate the house, your guests to bring larger portions of the communal meal, or even hire a friend to help clean up your house.

But realize that headaches, flare ups, and exhaustion do happen. Inform those around you when you feel your symptoms might be on the upswing. Let your family know when you’ll need extra unexpected help, or when you might need additional rest time.

Taking the unnecessary busy-ness out of the season and replacing it with authentic relationships can help you to benefit even more from the season as a whole. Learning to come together, supporting and encouraging each other, and enjoying the season meant for joy will hopefully help you to have the best holiday season of all!