Pacing Myself During the Holiday Season

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by Athena Merritt |

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I used to be a notoriously late holiday shopper, scrambling in stores on Christmas Eve to complete my gift list to the amusement of my family. But life with sarcoidosis and my other chronic health conditions can be unpredictable. The holiday season adds to the challenges. That’s why this year, like the previous one, I wrapped up my shopping early. It’s one of the ways I reduce the many stressors brought on by the holidays to avoid flare-ups.

Holiday hurdles

In the United States, 60 percent of adults have a chronic disease, and 40 percent of adults have two or more chronic diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The unpredictable nature of sarcoidosis, which can affect various parts of the body, is one of its challenges.

Many of us live with chronic pain, despite heavy use of pain medications and therapies, which significantly affect our ability to walk, sleep, and enjoy life, according to a 2017 survey. Fatigue, which is often debilitating, can stubbornly persist even after sarcoidosis has gone into remission. Battling symptoms can be draining, affecting our ability to tackle tasks. Toss in extra traffic on the roads, shoppers in stores, and social commitments, and the holidays become even more challenging.

Moderation is key

To best manage my health over the holiday season, I adhere to a rule of “moderation in all things.” That means limiting unhealthy foods, that, much like Halloween candy, pop up in abundance to test my willpower. I don’t overextend myself by attending every holiday party, family or social gathering. Holiday shopping is now a series of sprints, which concludes by Cyber Monday, instead of a frantic marathon run at the last minute. Moderation also means always putting my health first and not missing sleep, meals, or medications. 

The payoff

It’s difficult and sometimes soul-crushing to pass up many of the things, such as social outings, that I took for granted in the past for the sake of my health. But, doing so over the holidays goes a long way toward reducing the stress that can affect my body, mood, and behavior in a variety of ways. 

My lengthy sarcoidosis journey has taught me that bad decisions in the short term can boomerang to have negative effects on my long-term health. That’s why, for me, the holidays are a balancing act of enjoying the season while being mindful of actions that can potentially affect my health.


Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.


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