Surviving the Holidays with Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but its also super stressful. You have a lot of organising to do, financial pressure and family obligations. Add a chronic illness like HS to the mix, and it can be a bit overwhelming.

You really need to plan. Be prepared, and all will be fine. And just so you know, its not just about surviving. It’s about fun and celebration. You can have all that too. Today we are going to look at the most common pressures at Christmas, HS edition. And tips on how to combat stressors this Christmas.

Destress

We don’t need to rehash all the stress of Christmas. But we do need to acknowledge that stress may be a trigger for HS flare-ups. So, make sure you have fun this Christmas. It’s not about perfect gifts or deadlines.

Also, make time for self-care. If you walk or meditate to destress don’t stop because you are busy. I love Christmas crafts; I find them relaxing. I especially like making cards and decorations. Take care of yourself; you deserve it. More importantly, you need it.

Pull in Your Support

At Christmas, there is often one or two people who do all or most of the preparation. You don’t need to be that person. And you don’t need to do it all. Ask for help when you need it. If Christmas is about celebrating with family and friends, then it should be a collaborative effort.

If you feel overwhelmed or run down, delegate some tasks to others. Someone else can do the shopping or put up the tree. Making Christmas a group effort takes the pressure off you. Plus, it gives you more time to look after yourself.


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Prepare for Potential Food Triggers

This is one many people with special diets struggle with. You may have noticed that most festive foods contain the three primary food triggers for HS. By way of recap, those are

  • Sugar
  • Dairy
  • Brewers yeast.

You have a decision to make here. I am not going to tell you not to eat these foods. It is up to you to decide what you will eat and what you won’t. If you are staying with someone and are worried about the availability of suitable foods, don’t be afraid to bring your own.

Manage your Wounds

If you are someone who stays with the family for the holidays, your kit is essential. You may remember a few weeks ago we talked about what to keep in your HS kit. Your holiday on-the-go kit may include:

  • Clean up items such as wipes
  • Extra vests and underwear
  • Wound dressings
  • Your HidraWear AX garment
  • Topical pain relief

If you don’t need to travel for Christmas, check your supplies anyway. Make sure you have filled any prescriptions you need. Christmas is busy, and you don’t want to be caught short over the holidays.

Set Boundaries

Traditionally Christmas is a time we spend celebrating in groups. That’s on top of the busy preparation of Christmas itself. From gift shopping to preparing for family visits and HS, it’s understandable if you are tired.

It is crucial to surviving the holidays that you remember you can say no. If you don’t feel like the office zoom party don’t attend. You can also say no to family get-togethers. Remember Christmas should be fun. But it shouldn’t compromise your health.

Remember You Don’t Owe Anyone an Explanation

I am open about my condition, but not everyone can be. While you don’t need to be embarrassed about your HS if that’s how you feel, that’s okay.  Just remember you don’t need to answer any uncomfortable questions.

In fact, you don’t need to answer to anyone about your body. That includes food choices and leaks. It also includes related conditions as well as weight gain or loss. You just do your Christmas thing.

Merry Christmas

Christmas is a lot of people’s favourite time of year because it is fun. It’s about family and friends. And its about celebration. Everything else is just noise, so long as you plan.

In summary, your Christmas survival plan should include:

  • Self-care
  • Ask for help
  • Food choices that feel right for you.
  • Restocking your on-the-go HS kit.
  • Saying no when you need to (or want to).
  • Don’t answer questions you are uncomfortable with.

Take care of yourself and have fun.

Merry Christmas.

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