Each year we build up the holidays to be a tremendous event. We have grand hopes that everyone will get along, the food will be perfect and all the gifts will be loved. The reality is that the holiday season is very stressful in many different ways.
Patients with chronic lung disease feel the same pressure to find great gifts and be part of the preparation. The increased activity leads to increased fatigue and shortness of breath. This in turn makes it harder to be part of the activities.
The profusion of great treats to eat presents another challenge. It is easy to gain 5-10 pounds during the holiday season. This added weight increases the demands on your lungs and heart and makes you more short of breath.
The emotional challenges of the holiday season can be especially challenging. Particularly for my patients with advanced lung disease there is a pressure to make the holiday season perfect and to connect with family and friends. We often forget that being surrounded by family in close quarters may be very stressful. All of the issues from our childhood often rise to the surface and we become particularly sensitive.
Tips to enjoying the holidays
- Have reasonable expectations.
- Let your fingers do the work of shopping if you are not up to walking around the mall. Amazon has made it so easy to buy and ship anything you could ever want.
- Avoid grazing and over-eating. By all means enjoy a few treats but watch the portion sizes. Beware of the liquid calories (eggnog and the like).
- Don’t neglect your exercise routine.
- Take some time for yourself.
- Power down with a nap or a period of relaxation if you need.
- Enjoy family and friends in the moment and don’t dredge up old hurts.