Handling the Holidays

Oh, the weather outside is frightful…or maybe it’s not so frightful if you’re living in beautiful southern California.  The weather typically isn’t one of our worries this time of year, but this time of year can certainly bring its challenges for anyone, especially someone living with PD.  I don’t know if you’re like me, but I do best when I follow a strict routine.  Wake up early, take meds at designated times, eat food that is not only nutritious but is timed around taking those meds, go to exercise classes regularly, hang out with people that understand my limitations and aren’t offended when I need some down time, making sure I have that down time daily so my stress levels stay low.  Where in this routine am I going to fit family gatherings, holiday parties, shopping and more shopping, sending cards, decorating the house, and don’t forget baking dozens of cookies for the neighbors?

Here’s a few tips to help you through the holidays with PD.

  1. Set an alarm for your medications. This is a good practice at any time, but more so when things are hectic. Routines can get sidetracked easily with so much going on and timing your meds is crucial. Many of us with PD live by the clock.  Set an alarm on your phone so that no matter where you are or what is going on, you will remember to take medications.
  2. Keep up your exercise. Some of us like to exercise and some of us dread it, but for most of us, exercise helps us feel better, diminishes some of our symptoms and lifts our spirits. It can be hard to get to class over the holidays when family is visiting but consider inviting a visiting family member to go to class with you. If you are visiting another town, see if your hotel has a gym or if there is a local Rock Steady Boxing or other exercise program to visit. Some hotels offer yoga classes. A yoga class can not only help your body feel better but is great at reducing holiday stress.
  3. Be prepared for dietary temptations and changes. The holidays tend to be full of goodies that are not so good for us.  Be selective with your treats.  Instead of depriving yourself of everything, choose a small dessert here and there so you can enjoy yourself and still not throw your system off.   And don’t forget to time that protein around your medication schedule.  This can be difficult when mealtimes are different from normal so think in advance about when you will be eating.  Fortunately, most holiday dinners are full of wonderful veggies so load up!
  4. Avoid the stress of holiday crowds by online shopping. Malls this time of year are busy and noisy and multitasking can be challenging. By shopping online, you avoid having to find parking places, standing in lines, and battling your way through a mob of people vying for the latest popular item.  If you are an Amazon shopper, try using smile.amazon.com and a percentage of your purchase will go to charity.
  5. There is a lot going on during the holidays. Prioritize the activities that will bring you the most joy and stick to those. Don’t be afraid to say no to the rest.