I started out writing a “fun things to do while traveling on holiday” post, then realized that my biggest problem isn’t finding cool things to do. It’s avoiding all those cool things to do that will make me hurt later.
Here are the top 5 activities I try to avoid doing during the holidays, so as to emerge into the new year happy and in the littlest pain possible:
5. Skiing, snowboarding, XC skiing, and snowshoeing
Unless you’re really up for it (as in, you ski or board regularly, or have been specifically working up to it), the holidays are not the time to grab that first chair. Or slog out into the virgin forest wearing nothing but fiberglass on your feet. I faced this choice myself just last week. It took three days of thinking about it and longingly staring at the run near the condo to own up to the fact that I’d have mangled myself if I’d tried to ski.
Really, this isn’t the time to try to beat down a hidden disability with sheer willpower so you can play a hardcore sport. Far better to cripple yourself after the New Year–you’ll have plenty of time to convalesce through January and February without missing holiday parties or family dinners. (I think I might try snowboarding in February. I’ll keep y’all up to date.)
4. Mixing holiday cheer with medications
Eggnog, hot buttered rum, mulled wine, hot chocolate spiked with peppermint schnapps…all delicious holiday treats. None of which go well with opioid painkillers or any of the other host of drugs that don’t play well with alcohol. Yup, it’s the holidays, and it might be okay to indulge just a little bit. But after that little tiny bit, stop. Christmas dinner is far less fun when spent in the emergency room dining on activated charcoal.
3. Overindulging in the holiday feast
I’m almost always guilty of this one–I do so love Christmas cookies. And prime rib. But portion control is never so important as during the annual Christmas dinner. Why? Because overeating causes pain. In my case, the reason is obvious–too much food presses hard on the pelvic area, which is where my pain centers. But overeating can also exacerbate fibro pain, back pain, and even joint pain. One day I’ll get my friend Bari Mandelbaum, CHN, NC of www.foodfairie.com to explain exactly how that works.
2. Spending a week in Mom-in-Law’s guest room
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again. Contentious family relationships = stress. And stress = pain. Heck, even cordial family relationships can breed stress when the pressure of holiday celebrations mixes with extended houseguestery. So if you’re traveling to visit relatives for the holidays, consider a motel. Seriously. Yes, it’s more expensive, but it’s your own quiet, relation-free space to which you can retreat whenever you need down time.
If a room of your own just isn’t in the budget, try to find a guest room in a house that’s not hosting the big gathering/feast/party. That might help keep the stress level down to a dull roar.
1. Hitting two, or three, or four celebrations all in one day
I’ve done this, and it’s knocked me flat on my back for a week afterward.
Many people think it’s great to have all their family living in the same general geographic area at holiday time. Unless of course a younger couple has both their families within two hours drive of each other. In that case, it’s tempting to try to hit two holiday celebrations on the same day. Make that three, if the young couple has a bunch of “orphan” friends doing their own dinner.
This way lies madness, exhaustion, and intense pain to the point of physical collapse. The problem isn’t just the driving hither and yon. It’s cooking and transporting food contributions to each party, making sure all the proper presents are sorted by group and loaded into the car, and then displaying appropriate holiday cheer at each celebration.
Pitfall #3 becomes almost impossible to avoid on a multi-party holiday. And #4 begins to look downright attractive by the middle of the second or third party in a row.
The bottom line: Wherever you’re going this week and next, give yourself a break–physically, mentally, and emotionally. Don’t let familial guilt override the real, important needs of your body and your mind. If that means saying “no,” go ahead and say it–feel its power and leave the guilt behind.
Above all else, you…yes YOU, have a happy, pain-minimal holiday!
Photo (c) j4shirley on flickr