Friday, 12 November 2021

Christmas with a Chronic Illness: How I manage my Inflammatory bowel disease

For many, Christmas is an enjoyable time, but for those with chronic illness, the combination of pain and fatigue mixed with the festivities can be all too much. 

But do not fear. I have got you covered with some top tips to navigate the festive period.

Christmas party season is fast approaching for many this means lots of food, drink, and celebrations. 

Before my diagnosis, it really was the most the wonderful time of the year.

With IBD, many different foods can trigger a flare. So if you’re planning on having a meal out, check out the menu to ensure there is something suitable for you to eat. 

Don’t be worried to ask staff for any adjustments. Remember, you are prioritizing your health.

It doesn’t matter where you go; tremendous anxiety can be faced by so many with IBD. You have to consider if there are toilets nearby.

Have a look around the venue when you arrive, plan how long it would take you to get to the nearest bathroom from where you are should you need it in an emergency. 

It may seem silly, but this can give you peace of mind when the need to use the toilet can be almost instant.

Over the festive period, many medical facilities offer only reduced services, so make sure you plan ahead of time and have enough of what you need. 

This will also help reduce any stress or panic; for those of us on immunosuppressants, winter is the prime time for coughs and colds. 

Make sure you stock up on cold remedies just in case, or even some simple honey and lemon.

Going out and having a great time is terrific, but don’t forget that fatigue can be a considerable part of Chronic illness. 

During these busy times, force yourself to have some time off and don’t feel guilty about it. 

If you have an event one day, take the next day to recoup. Don’t try and do too much and spend at least 10 mins a day and even more time in the busier periods to do something relaxing.



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Speak to those around you and be honest about how you’re feeling. 

Heightened symptoms can be almost impossible to deal with, so speaking to those around you can help you to feel supported. 

People can understand better if you explain them to them as many chronic illness symptoms are invisible to others. 

By explaining, people can better appreciate what you’re going through.

Don’t feel pressured to do things. Sometimes you must accept that you simply can’t. 

The fear of missing out, hurting peoples’ feelings, or letting the illness get to you are all very real, but sometimes you just can’t, and it’s a hard pill to swallow. 

Think of it like this, would you prefer to go to one event and feel ok and well enough to enjoy it or feel awful at all of them.

Shopping, wrapping, preparing all on top of your usual daily activities can be overwhelming during the festive period. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for a helping hand. A problem shared is a problem halved. 

You can shop online, get others to help you pick up all the things you need and remember, don’t go overboard.


Finally, remember this is Christmas, and it really can be the most beautiful time of the year. 

Yes, IBD can present many additional challenges, but it doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy yourself. 

So put up the Christmas Tree, make a hot chocolate and turn on the Christmas songs. 

Whatever you do this festive season, make sure you enjoy yourself.



By Jessica Murray.



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