Christmas can be a difficult time of year, even for the healthiest, most energetic, and well-organized people. There are expectations from friends and family, commitments to events and parties, pressures to have fun, celebrate, drink and be merry. As well as the individual stresses we may feel at this time, there is added strain on our relationships. Unmet expectations and unfulfilled promises can lead to holiday fall-outs, and heightened stress levels can cause loved ones to snap and bark at each other.
The stress can get to everyone, but it can be an especially difficult time of year to navigate for someone with endometriosis. Christmas is normally a season filled with sugary foods and alcohol, both of which may cause painful flare-ups in some people with endo. Joining in might mean a miserable and painful festive period, while abstaining might leave someone feeling isolated and alone. On top of that, the fatigue that is a common symptom of endometriosis can make shopping for the day, attending the parties and gatherings, decorating and preparation feel impossible to achieve.
The guilt that endo patients may feel about letting friends down or canceling plans can be magnified at this time of year, so as the partner of someone with endometriosis, we have a chance to reduce some of these negative feelings. Here are a few thoughts on what we can do to make the Christmas period an easier and more joyful time of year:
Don’t force it. Forcing someone to do something because you think it is fun or what they should be doing, even if it’s outside of their comfort zone, is wrong and probably no fun for them. An example of this could be forcing someone to drink at a Christmas party, or encouraging them to stay out later than they planned. For an endo patient, this can lead to bad fatigue or pain and have repercussions for weeks afterward. Be understanding and go at the pace of your endo loved one.
Try to help where you can. This could be by taking some of the physical stress out of the holiday, like doing more than your fair share of the cleaning before the family visits, or offering to drive to the shops to pick up the last-minute groceries. Help with organizing the family get-togethers, writing Christmas cards, wrapping presents, or cooking the feast.
Enjoy the things you can. Christmas is a time for family and friends, for pause and reflection. Enjoy downtime spent cuddled up in front of the fire, sharing stories with the family, and falling asleep in front of archaic festive movies.
Although the holiday season may feel like a ninja warrior course for an endo patient, with endless sugary obstacles and family-shaped challenges to overcome, when approached in the right way it can be just what they need: a time to wind down and rest, and a chance to start the new year feeling refreshed.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.