Celebrate Christmas without the pain
November 19, 2020 by Lisa Bywaters
OMG, did you know there are only 36 days until Christmas?!!
It seems like Christmas 2019 was just a few weeks ago, now Christmas 2020 is looming! Yikes!!
Ok, breathe. It’s important we don’t panic. There are lots of things we can do to prepare for the festivities without too much pain. After the year we’ve had, we deserve a wonderful Christmas with those near and dear to us.
So here are our top tips so you can enjoy some festive fun:
- Plan around your pain and fatigue. Wear comfy shoes (including orthotics if you have/need them), grab your walking aid, your shopping list (a foggy brain makes remembering almost impossible) and your shopping buggy/bags. Be kind to yourself as you may feel tired and exhausted for hours/days after your trip. If your battery was already low before you tackled this, it’s may take some time to recharge and feel yourself again.
- Once you get to the store, hygiene and physical distancing is key:
- Wear your mask if you live in an area where they’re mandatory or recommended.
- Use sanitiser on your hands and disinfectant wipes on the handles on your trolley/basket.
- Keep a least 1.5 metres between yourself and others.
- Don’t touch your face.
- Wash your hands thoroughly when you get home.
- Take breaks. Shopping is exhausting and stressful, so take breaks when you need them. Don’t push yourself too hard, or you’ll end up paying for that over the coming hours/days.
- Use a trolley or a shopping buggy, even if you’re only getting a few things. It will do the heavy carrying for you, so you can avoid muscle and joint pain.
- Use your assistive devices – walking aids, braces, orthotics. If you have them, use them. They make a big difference.
- Shop online. We’ve learned through life in lockdown and iso that so many things can be purchased with a few quick clicks of your mouse. So visit your favourite stores online and save yourself some trips to shopping centre madness. Just be sure to check the shipping details to ensure your goods arrive in time.
- Shop local. You don’t need to hit the big shopping centres to find unique gifts or fresh produce. Small, independent local stores often have most of what you need.
- Be kind to others. Your fellow shopper isn’t the enemy. So be patient, give them space, and be tolerant. The staff at the store also deserve our kindness and empathy – they’ve been flat out all year trying to keep the shelves stocked so that we can get all the things we want or need.
- Take a leaf out of the big guy’s book – write a list and check it twice. Knowing what gifts you’re looking for before you hit the shops will save you time, energy and money.
- Consider spending less. It’s been a tight year for many of us, so it makes sense to be economical and save some dollars. You don’t want to head into 2021 with massive Christmas bills.
- Make your own gifts. Embrace your inner creative guru and bake, paint, draw, knit or sew your presents. Another option is to make some gift vouchers – e.g. 1 hour of babysitting or dog walking.
- Embrace Kris Kringle or Secret Santa gift exchange. They’re popular for a reason. Make 2020 – the year of the ‘new normal’ – the time to try it out, and save yourself time, stress and frustrating shopping expeditions. It’s particularly good if you have a lot of people to buy for.
- Give gift cards and vouchers. They’re always a great idea for the person who’s hard to buy for, or the person who has everything. And you can get a lot of them online – without the hassle of changing out of your pjs or leaving the comfort of your couch. Some companies such as Private Health Funds offer discounts online when purchasing gift cards.
- Give to charity. There are so many worthy causes around and many have been struggling during this incredibly tough year. So follow your heart and make a donation instead of buying gifts this year.
- When it comes to wrapping your gifts, gift bags are easier on sore hands than cutting wrapping paper and using sticky tape. They’re also a lifesaver for those of us who are hopeless at wrapping.
- Get the family involved. Put some Christmas music on and have fun with it. Decorating your tree, your home and garden for Christmas should be all about the joy of the festive season and being together.
- Keep it simple. Remember what you put up you have to pack away after Christmas. So if that thought fills you with trepidation, choose the ‘less is more’ option.
- Put decorations in easy reach on a table or bench so you’re not constantly bending over to pick them up.
- Use a step ladder, rather than overstretching. And if you have any balance issues, ask someone else to do the high stuff.
- Remember things don’t have to be ‘perfect’. That’s too much pressure. So don’t be a Monica Geller (sorry, couldn’t resist a Friends reference).
Having people over
- Keep it COVID-safe. What you can do and how many people you can have over will depend on where you live. So visit your state/territory government health site for the latest info. Have plenty of soap and hand sanitiser available, avoid hugs (I know this is tough) and if you’re feeling unwell, get tested and stay home, or cancel your gathering. That last one will be incredibly tough, as we’re so used to soldiering on through our aches, pains and fatigue, but if you think there’s even the remotest chance you have COVID, get tested and keep everyone safe by isolating until you know you don’t have the virus. Use the Healthdirect symptom checker to find out if you need to be tested.
- Keep it simple. As with decorating, keep your celebrations simple. Seriously after the year we’ve had, any celebration is epic!
- Cook/bake things ahead of time. Many of the foods we enjoy for Christmas can be made days and sometimes weeks before the big day. That means you don’t have to work yourself into a cooking frenzy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And you’re more likely to enjoy yourself on the day.
- Ask your guests to bring a plate. This shares the work, the cost and ensures those with special dietary requirements can bring food that accommodates their needs.
- Pace yourself. When you’re hosting an event, it’s easy to get carried away and be constantly on the move. Gatherings can be a marathon, so pace yourself so you don’t run out of steam before the end.
- Take a seat. Make sure you take time to rest and get off your feet.
- Be medicine-wise:
- Over-the-counter and prescription medication may help you manage pain and inflammation so you can enjoy your day. If you’re not sure what will work best for you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
- Watch the alcohol. Many medications don’t mix well with alcohol, so find out if it’s ok to have a drink with your meds.
- Stay hydrated. Christmas is often hot in Australia, so it’s easy to become dehydrated, especially if you’re busy making sure everyone is having a good time. So keep the water flowing – for yourself and your guests.
- Give yourself a break when it comes to cleaning and packing up. Get the family and your guests involved – even if it’s simple things like folding up chairs, or bringing dishes to the kitchen. And ask yourself if you really need to do everything immediately? A lot can be done the next day after you’ve had a rest.
- Christmas and the holidays can be a stressful time, but it’s important that you manage your stress as best as you can or risk having a flare. So pull out your best stress management strategies and use them as often as you need to.
Call our Help Line
If you have questions about things like managing your pain, your musculoskeletal condition, treatment options, COVID-19, telehealth, or accessing services be sure to call our nurses. They’re available weekdays between 9am-5pm on 1800 263 265; email (email@example.com) or via Messenger.
More to explore
- Arthritis and the holidays
Arthritis Foundation (USA)
- 6 tips for managing the holiday season with chronic illness
- Christmas gift ideas when you’re on a budget
- Top tips for managing pain over the festive season
London Pain Clinic