December 13


Surviving the Holidays in One PEACE

By Sue Ingebretson

December 13, 2011

baking, Christmas, Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain LIFE, Fitness, Holidays, magazine, NFMCPA, parties, restorative yoga, self-care

Surviving the Holidays in one PEACE

As many of you know, I write a regular column for the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association’s (NFMCPA) magazine, Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain LIFE. This beautifully done publication can be viewed online or ordered as a print magazine. I highly recommend the wealth of articles inside.

In the November/December issue, I addressed the subject of getting ready – and staying well for the Holidays. The NFMCPA has graciously allowed me to reprint the article here for my readers in my blog. Here’s to …

Surviving the Holidays in One PEACE!

Kelly P. writes: While I love the holidays, in some ways I’m embarrassed to say that I dread them, too. There’s so much to do, and so much food! How can I stay healthy and not run myself into the ground?

Sue says: Great questions, Kelly! Here’s my two-part response. First, you’re struggling with the classic issue of pacing yourself. Holidays pose a particular problem with this issue because there’s often the added guilt factor from relatives, neighbors, and colleagues who expect your attendance at their events. Make a list of each activity you would like to do from November all the way through early January. Include the shopping, baking, concerts, tree-trimming, kid’s school events, office parties, family get-togethers, etc. Wow! Just writing the list might make you tired.

Now add self-care activities to your list such as stay-at-home time, restorative yoga and tai chi classes, family walks, relaxation massages, getting to bed early, etc.

Pencil in all events onto blank calendar pages (printed from sites such as Seeing the expectations of your time on paper can help you to set personal boundaries. Conserve your energy by limiting the number of events per week. For example, if three evening activities fall in the same week, choose only one. Practice telling others that you’re unable to attend their event. It’s up to you if you want to share why. Prioritize self-care activities above outside events to be sure that you stay healthy and balanced. Pacing yourself helps make the season more enjoyable for you and everyone else around you.

And second, you asked about the abundance of holiday foods. Yes, they’re often just too much of a good thing. When you host a party, be sure to delegate the food chores and ask others to bring nourishing dishes. Let them know you’re working very hard to stay healthy throughout the holidays. Suggest chopped veggies (crudités), bean dips, soups, and salads. Be sure to eat before your guests arrive and drink plenty of water throughout the party. Then … if you want to nibble on a special holiday treat, go right ahead! Have a bite or two rather than a serving, and notice how satisfied you feel.

Here’s the important part: as your guests prepare to leave, don’t let them go home empty handed! Wrap leftover foods right away (Santa’s Doggie bags) and divvy them up between friends. Take extra care to send away any tempting foods that could cause you to deviate from your healthy nutritional goals. Leftover meats, soups, casseroles, etc. can be divided into smaller portions and frozen for quick and easy meals later on.

And … what happens when you attend a party rather than host one? Follow the above instructions in reverse! Bring whatever tasty dish you choose, enjoy the party, and return home empty-handed! Keeping your house a safe and healthy haven for you and your family this holiday season will start you off for 2012 on the right foot!

This article appears in the Nov/Dec 2011 issue of Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain LIFE magazine, a publication of the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association. Reprinted with permission from NFMCPA. For more information, visit

  1. Great advice – timely reminder about the need to pace – and strategies for communicating with those who understand. Thank you. Suggestion: buttons for e-mail, etc. helpful – possible to please add one for printing for those who don’t Facebook, Twitter, etc.?

  2. I think no matter how many times you may hear or read advice on how to get through the holiday’s – it is important to have articles like yours as a reminder. Many of those with Fibro seem to try to do as much as other and even with out the Fibro Fog forget that we may need to slow down and do a bit less to make it through with as little as pain as possible. Thank you!

    1. You’re so right, Melissa – we often put ourselves last and especially at this time of year, need to be sure we’re taking care of ourselves!

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"True Healing requires a combination of healthy nutrition, healthy body movements, and emotional wellness. This is what I call the Restoration Trio" ~ Sue Ingebretson