10 tips to help you navigate the 2020 holiday season with MS

The festive holidays (for most people) aren’t like the snow filled movies that we see. And if it is, that doesn’t happen by magic. It’s hard work.

Add in multiple sclerosis and a pandemic and we wouldn't blame you if you don't feel like rocking around the Christmas tree.

We're here with 10 tips to get help you get through to January.

1. Perfection is a myth!

The most important gift you can give to yourself and others is for you to be relaxed and feeling on top of things. Work out what’s important to you and the people you (really) care about and focus on those.

You can’t please everyone so don’t exhaust yourself trying to reach perfection.

2. Create a plan, but don’t worry if you don’t stick to it

Make a plan for your holiday period of what you will do and when. This will help you work out what you can and can’t fit in and how to plan activities around your needs.

Some days there might be things that you can't do what you had planned. That’s ok. You might feel disappointed, frustrated or guilty and that’s natural too.

3. Use the Three Ds

This is borrowed from work-life productivity methodologies and help you be more efficient with the time and energy you’ve got.

Do: The holiday season is a time of joy and kindness. Be kind to yourself and prioritise doing things you love and make the holidays special. Of course there will be some unavoidable chores but use the next two steps to minimise them...

Ditch: Be ruthless here. What could you not do at all? In 2020 everything’s upside down so you can make your own rules.

Delegate: Take advantage of the so-called season of goodwill. If you’ve got family and friends you can rely on, ask them to help.

4. Be present and enjoy the small moments

There are lots of things we might not be able to do this Christmas but there will still be moments of joy. That might be eating a favourite treat, choosing a gift for a loved one or speaking to a friend or family.

5. Take control of in-person socialising

Festive get-togethers can be challenging at the best of times. Layer on concerns about coronavirus and living with MS and it can all feel too much.

If you don’t feel comfortable, or simply can’t face going somewhere, you can politely decline the invitation. You don’t have to explain yourself. This can be easier said than done, especially with family but there are tactics to help.

6. Reflect on your traditions and embrace making new ones

Like the rest of 2020, Christmas will be different. Take this as your opportunity to make new traditions. They might be the modified versions of your usual activities or maybe something completely different.

If you're spending the day alone or in a smaller group, doing new activities could make the day feel less strange.

7. Go easy on the food and drink

Ok ok, sorry to sound like your doctor but just be careful. Watch out for things that you know trigger your MS. Don’t overdo it one day and end up paying for it for a couple of weeks to come.

8. Take advantage of anything that can be delivered to your door

Enclosed spaces, frantic shoppers and Mariah Carey is a surefire way to raise the blood pressure! If you want to get out of the house be sure to pick a quieter time and try your local retailers to avoid the masses.

9. Visit the pharmacy and stock up if you need to

Make sure you’ve got enough of your prescribed medications and also over the counter medicines. The pharmacies aren’t shut for long but just in case. Check your stock of things like painkillers, digestion medications and plasters.

Don’t let your medication adherence slip either, set yourself a reminder to take your any prescribed medication if you might struggle.

10. Check-in on yourself

Despite all best intentions you might find yourself feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Take time to recognise when this is happening to try and identify what’s causing it and what steps you can take to feel better.

UK mental health charity Mind has a whole load of information about coping with Christmas if it is a difficult time for you.