The holiday season means you will, more than likely, be dashing from event to event all December long. From meeting up with friends, office parties, spending time with family, and checking everything off of your pre holiday 'to do' list, chances are you are letting your regular nutrition, fitness, and sleep routines fall by the wayside. With IBD, this can be the time when flares and symptoms can hit the hardest. In my experience, I see this happen due to changes in my routine and added stress. It is also, of course, sick season so the more you socialize the more you are exposed to potential bugs that can knock you on your butt for quite a few days. Every year, I feel like I tweak my routine a little bit and become savvier in how to keep my health in check throughout the holidays while still being able to enjoy myself.
This year I have five tips that I am living by to help me make it through this crazy busy, festive month.
Vitamins and hydration
Holiday season means lots of eating and drinking outside of your normal routine, or at least the option to. I like to indulge a little when I can. Wine night with friends that are in town, dinner out to celebrate a successful year with my team, gluten free Christmas treats..... My usual rule of thumb is to let yourself enjoy what you want, while being mindful of how they will impact how you feel. It is all about the balance, baby. And honestly, this time of year we can get a little off balance and live your best life, and you should not feel guilty. That being said, during this time of the year, proper hydration and nutrient intake can become an afterthought to all of the holiday cheer. Instead of stressing, I am making things easy by sticking to a regemine I can keep conveniently in my purse everyday. I am making sure I drink at least one packet of DripDrop ORS for dehydration relief each day (more than one for sure if I am having a few glasses of bubbly). This is also key for if my Crohn's symptoms start acting up. Even when I can get those under control, the dehydration can keep me down and out for even longer. Mixing in a packet of DripDrop ORS everyday helps to keep me on my A-game no matter what my body is throwing at me.
I also make sure I take a quality multivitamin once per day. I have been taking Ritual vitamins for the past year and a half and absolutely love them. I can feel confident that no matter what weird combination of foods I'm grabbing from our holiday potluck, at least I am getting my core vitamins everyday.
Limit your plans - its okay to say 'no'
This one took me so long to actually live by. There are so many plans happening around the holidays, but you don't have to attend every single event you are invited to. I've realized that it is better to give your all at a few events you are really excited to attend then be half checked out at a laundry list of events that you only sort of care about. I also used to always feel really bad about saying no to events I would get invited to because I didn't want to let down the host. Well, let's be real, the host has so much going on, they probably don't really care one way or another. Not being rude, but unless you are the guest of honor, it is not a big deal. And if the host is a close enough friend, they would probably want you to be relaxing at home if that's what is best for you anyway.
As part of limiting my plans I make a list at the beginning of December of all of the things I want to do/attend and then I prioritize them. By adding the things I really want to do into my planner from the start I have a more realistic idea of what else I can commit to.
Work from home if your office is sick
If there is a bug cycling through your office, do yourself a favor and if you can, work from home. So many people will try to power through their illness and bring all of their germs to work with them instead of laying low at home. As someone with a compromised immune system, this does NOT sit well with me. If I notice something is going around and too many people are dropping like flies in the office, I try to limit my exposure. Whether that means staying in my office or requesting to work from home, this ensures that I can continue to get my work done and hopefully not succumb to the office plague.
Keep your sleep schedule regular
Sleep can be tricky when your social calendar is packed. You might be out late on week nights when usually your bedtime is 9pm or you may find yourself with extra time to hit snooze on your days off. The best thing you can do is keep your sleep schedule as regular as possible. I usually try to have an hour time frame that I go to bed and wake up routinely everyday (including days off!). If I am out at an event, I always set a target time for me to say my goodbyes and call an Uber, so that I can be home in time to do at least some semblance of my nightly routine and be in bed at a regular time. Of course there are exceptions and nights when you are having such a great time, turning in for the evening sounds miserable, and that's fine, stay out! Like I said, all about balance, baby.
If you have PTO take it
I can't tell you how many times I hear my coworkers talking about all of the hours of PTO they are going to lose at the end of the year. A lot of companies have a maximum amount of PTO that you can roll over to the New Year which leaves a lot of hours to be taken or lost. Most of us workaholics rack up time all year just to keep running ourselves to the ground until December 31st then starting all over again. If you have time banked up, please do yourself a favor and USE IT. It is your time, you earned it, don't feel guilty about taking off work to refresh yourself for the New Year. It doesn't matter if you are going on vacation or staying on your sofa watching Netflix for three days, either way, you're doing what you need to do to give you mind and body a break. This will help you to feel less rundown as you tackle the mid winter months, and hopefully help to keep you a bit healthier.
I hope you all have a happy and healthy holiday season full of B A L A N C E.
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.
Welcome to my unfiltered commentary on crushing chronic illness in your 20's and everything that goes along with that.