Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
About MySpondylitisTeam

How to Enjoy the Holidays Despite Spondylitis

Posted on October 24, 2019

Living with spondylitis may change your holidays, but you can still have enjoyable and meaningful celebrations. Although spondylitis may make some holiday traditions challenging, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy connecting with friends and family during the holiday season. By communicating your limitations due to spondylitis, being flexible, and adjusting your expectations, you can help make sure the holidays are happy and memorable.

Communicate Your Needs
Let your loved ones know that connecting with them over the holidays is as important as ever to you, but spondylitis is making it hard to plan as usual due to symptoms like chronic back pain and fatigue. Stress can also exacerbate pain, so you need to put yourself first or risk worsening your condition.

  • Don't be afraid to say no.
  • It can help to use direct "I" statements. For instance, "I am not feeling well enough to host this year" is better than "Having everyone over is just too stressful." Communicating in this way makes your needs clear without making others feel accused or burdensome.
  • Even if you usually maintain healthy boundaries, the holidays are a time when they may be tested. If a friend or family member tries to make you feel guilty for setting your boundaries, gently remind them that spondylitis doesn't take the holidays off, as much as you wish it did.

Be Flexible
Instead of saying "no," say "yes" to something else. If a family tradition no longer works for you since you developed spondylitis, it may be time to suggest an update.

  • If you can't travel as usual, consider offering to host. Ask others to bring potluck dishes and help clean up so you don't wind up overdoing it.
  • If you usually host the gathering but can't do it this year, encourage someone else to host instead. They may be delighted to welcome everyone to their home for a change.
  • If you always bring a beloved dish, pass the treasured recipe on to a loved one like you would a family heirloom, or shine the limelight on another chef in the family and invite them to bring their favorite dish.
  • If you can't bring yourself to give up the party, think of ways to save time and energy. Use paper plates, plastic flatware, and disposable tablecloths for easy cleanup. Make decorating (or de-decorating) part of the event and get everyone to help. Plan a low-impact meal such as a stew that simmers all day in the crock pot with little prep work or tending.

If it's just not possible to get together in one place this year, consider using a video chat service such as Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime to have a special holiday call on a smartphone or laptop. During a video chat, you can:

  • Watch family open gifts
  • Have them show you the decorations around the house
  • Read a holiday story or poem to the children
  • Sing favorite holiday songs together

Adjust Your Expectations
Even without a chronic illness like spondylitis, holidays often come with high expectations that lead to disappointment and stress. Letting go of the illusion of a "perfect" holiday can help you keep expectations realistic and focus on what's most important about the holidays. For many people, that means connecting with loved ones, being thankful for what you have, and finding hope for the new year.

Here are some mindful tips from Johns Hopkins Medicine for adjusting holiday expectations:

  • Accept that your holidays won't be perfect and will be different from celebrations in years past.
  • Focus on what really counts. Find things to be grateful for and look for new ways to connect with loved ones.
  • If you get into a conflict with someone over the holidays, take a few breaths before you react. Try to stay compassionate and react with kindness.
  • As you reflect on last year, be kind to yourself and let go of any negativity. As you look forward to next year, make smaller, gradual resolutions rather than huge goals that will be difficult to achieve.

During the holidays and year-round, the members of MySpondylitisTeam are here for each other. Joining MySpondylitisTeam means gaining a support group of thousands of others with spondylitis who understand exactly what you're going through.

Here are some conversations from MySpondylitisTeam members about navigating the holiday season with spondylitis:

Have you found ways to celebrate the holidays despite the chronic pain and fatigue that come with spondylitis?
Share in the comments below or post on MySpondylitisTeam.

A MySpondylitisTeam Member said:

Everyone helps in our house as we usually host because of our youngests high medical needs that keeps us at home. But she's a good excuse for me to pop… read more

posted 5 months ago

hug (13)

Recent articles

Coronavirus
Article written by Kelly Crumrin Those of us living with pre-existing, chronic conditions such as...

Canceling Is Kindness: Keeping Safe From COVID-19 With Spondylitis

Article written by Kelly Crumrin Those of us living with pre-existing, chronic conditions such as...
Setting intentions for 2020 with spondylitis
Eat healthier. Exercise more. Learn a new skill. Pay off a credit card. Many of us have made...

Setting Intentions for 2020 With Spondylitis

Eat healthier. Exercise more. Learn a new skill. Pay off a credit card. Many of us have made...
Practicing gratitude with spondylitis
This time of the year can be overwhelming with expectations around the holidays, and living with...

Practicing Gratitude With Spondylitis

This time of the year can be overwhelming with expectations around the holidays, and living with...
Chest pain and spondylitis
Do you frequently experience chest pain with spondylitis? You’re not alone. Chest pain is a...

Chest Pain and Spondylitis

Do you frequently experience chest pain with spondylitis? You’re not alone. Chest pain is a...
Spondylitis and brain fog
Forgetting names. Losing words. Trouble concentrating. “Brain fog” is a common - and disturbing -...

Spondylitis and Brain Fog

Forgetting names. Losing words. Trouble concentrating. “Brain fog” is a common - and disturbing -...
Mht carousel videoexpertseries drnorton v4
Dr. Hillary Norton is Medical Director of Santa Fe Rheumatology, a private practice in Santa Fe,...

Dr. Norton Expert Series (Video)

Dr. Hillary Norton is Medical Director of Santa Fe Rheumatology, a private practice in Santa Fe,...
Mht carousel videoexpertseries drnorton v4
There are things that you can do to manage your disease if you have nr-axSpA. First of all, there...

What can people do to manage their nr-axSpA?

There are things that you can do to manage your disease if you have nr-axSpA. First of all, there...
Mht carousel videoexpertseries drnorton v4
There is commonly a long delay in diagnosis for nr-axSpA, and that can be frustrating and...

What is the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of nr-axSpA?

There is commonly a long delay in diagnosis for nr-axSpA, and that can be frustrating and...
Mht carousel videoexpertseries drnorton v4
Things to ask your rheumatologist about nr-axSpA include: what to expect from the disease and...

What should you ask your rheumatologist about nr-axSpA?

Things to ask your rheumatologist about nr-axSpA include: what to expect from the disease and...
Mht carousel videoexpertseries drnorton v4
If someone has back pain that started before the age of 40 and has the characteristics of...

What should you ask your primary care provider about nr-axSpA?

If someone has back pain that started before the age of 40 and has the characteristics of...
MySpondylitisTeam My spondylitis Team

Get the latest articles about spondylitis sent to your inbox.

Not now, thanks

Privacy policy
MySpondylitisTeam My spondylitis Team

Thank you for signing up.

close