For Me, Getting Sick Around the Holidays Isn’t a Coincidence

getting sick during the holidays posterI’m lying in bed with low-grade fever and high-grade diarrhea. Montezuma’s revenge coupled with the aches and pains of fever.

It’s my annual malaise that I can count on like clockwork. Every year, at Christmastime, I get sick. Usually I make it until the week before Christmas and then I collapse with some pestilence that sends me right to bed for a few days.

It came a little early this year. And here’s the thing, I don’t get sick other than this one time of the year! And I know why.

It’s a combination of go-go-go mentality to get all the things done that are required for the season together with more nights out and less exercise. More parties, less sleep. More stress, less mindfulness. It all adds up to a compromised immune system that leaves me vulnerable to whatever bug-du-jour is lurking.

Struggling to Find Time for Self-Care & Mindfulness

My inner voice is saying “Take care of you first. Make sure to get your exercise in – it’s a priority! Use some moderation with food and alcohol at all the parties and gatherings crammed into these few short weeks!” – but it’s often hard to listen to that advice.

Related Article: Mindfulness During the Holidays: Strategies for Mindful Eating and Healthy Behaviors

Heck, it’s hard to even hear it over the pressure of all that needs to be accomplished – shopping, wrapping and shipping, decorating, baking, hosting and attending holiday parties. I feel like Fred Flintstone with my little feet already going when they hit the ground in the morning.

At bedtime, the to-do list is never completely checked off and the next day’s list is just that much longer. It all adds up to a very physically, mentally and emotionally strained time of the year.

The self-imposed obligations debilitate my health and make me sick, literally.

So Why Can’t I Heed My Inner Voice?

What gives? You know the answer; my self-imposed holiday regimen is so ingrained that it is like Kevlar behavior – very hard to change.

I’ve been making Christmas happen for my family for 30 years and in a big way. We take Christmas very seriously, and no corner of my home goes undecorated: including a giant tree that requires umpteen trips up and down the ladder to get it decorated.

This year’s early bout of Christmas illness, however, has got me thinking; I have two choices, really.

1. I can scale down all that I feel I need to do, or

2. I can increase my energy and boost my immune system by moving and eating well.

Will I do either? I don’t know. Right now I can hardly lift my head and make it to the bathroom, but I can only hope that, in a few days when I’m feeling better, the volume will go up from the inner voice and I can stay happy and healthy until this insane season is over.

Happy Holidays!


2 responses to “For Me, Getting Sick Around the Holidays Isn’t a Coincidence”

  1. BJ Whittle says:

    I agree, Beth. We all have high expectations for ourselves at this time of year!

    But, I think there is a third choice: (3) Determine the top 2 things (3 in a pinch) you really need- deep down- for it to be Christmas for you without sacrificing your health and self care. Get those done and use the extra time to look after your health- and have some relaxation. It’s not easy, but it’s a huge pressure reliever.

    If you feel deeply about a task that you don’t have time for- what are other options? I know you’ve always done it- but are there others you can ask for help (or delegate) to share the work. It may not be ‘perfect’ but isn’t having time to relax or spend with those you love most more important? Hand off some traditional duties to others from now on and be sure to praise them when they do it. 🙂

    My aunt invites people to a casual pot luck and tree trimming at her house two weeks before Christmas. The tree/house gets decorated, there’s social time, and not a ton of food prep. (she heats frozen appetizers and others bring dishes of food) It frees up a lot of decorating time for her.

    I injured my wrist last weekend and now have one hand and an undecorated tree and no cookies made. I can melt down (usual default before GM) because I feel I have to do certain things for it to be Christmas for family. OR I can make less cookies next weekend with some help. The tree I can get help with or leave it this year and have dinner at the parents- for me the wonderful food and family are the most important things so as long as there’s dinner and company- I can get by this year.

    Take care of you- and maybe you can find a different path this Christmas that honors your commitment to you and allows for celebrating and traditions. 🙂

  2. My almost 5 year old just asked me today…..why do you always have a list of things we have to get done? Maybe that should be my wake up call to tone down my expectations?

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