Thursday, December 4, 2008

Six Tips For Maximizing Holiday Enjoyment

With all the holidays that fall at this time of year, I feel a little overwhelmed with plans and activities. Right now, I take things on a day-by-day basis and sometimes a moment-by-moment basis.

I am constantly learning about how to deal with everyday situations and Migraine disease. This month's blog carnival topic at Somebody Heal Me is "Maximizing Your Enjoyment of the Holiday Season." I am going to share with you some tips that I find helpful when trying to enjoy the holidays.

I had an enlightening Thanksgiving holiday. It has been a rough few months for me. I've been Migraining more than I ever have before. Therefore, making concrete plans is quite difficult. 99% of the time I cancel plans. Making holiday plans can be quite a leap of faith.

This year, my husband and I spent Thanksgiving with my side of the family: my parents from out of town, my brother, his wife and my uncle. They all came to my house. To take the load off of myself, I planned to have an easy frozen Italian meal that my husband could execute if a Migraine decided to rear its head that day. I was briefly concerned that my family might be disappointed with a non-traditional Thanksgiving feast. But, I knew they would be equally disappointed with nothing on the table if I couldn't make anything at all!
Sometimes I don't realize that I set expectations for myself that are way too high. On a day-to-day basis, my body, my Migraines, my NDPH, and my anxiety put limitations on me. So, when the often stress-filled holidays arrive, I need to give myself even more leniency. So, I made a plan on which I could follow through.

Holiday Tip #1: Make it easy on yourself. Be Flexible. Only plan for what you think you can reasonably do.

Upon hearing of my Thanksgiving meal plans, my parents graciously offered to make a simple and easy traditional Thanksgiving meal. I made sure they understood that I would not be able to help out, especially if I was having a pain-filled day. This brings me to my Holiday Tips #2 and #3.

Holiday Tip #2:
Let others help you out, especially when they offer it. :)

Holiday Tip #3:
Keep good communication lines open with those who you will be interacting with during the holidays.

When I get together with family members and friends, I have found it extremely helpful to let everyone know what limitations I have. Often I tell my family/friends what they might expect from me. I let them know, in advance, that if I have a Migraine or an elevated NDPH, I may or may not be able to participate in activities as planned. I am honest about the fact that I may need frequent breaks. By doing this, when I come upon a situation where I need to leave early, or go to a back room for a break, others already understand why. If I am going to someone else's house and find myself in a situation where it is necessary for me to retreat to a quiet bedroom because of a Migraine, I feel comfortable doing so.

Holiday Tip #4: Enjoy the moment.

This is a very simple one, but a tip I am still trying to master. My parents arrived on Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Tuesday and Wednesday, I had a low-grade NDPH, but I was able to enjoy my parents' company and conversation. A Migraine was not interfereing and it was lovely. As I was sitting on the floor, playing with the dogs and laughing with my mom, I realized how wonderful it was. I wasn't alone. I was enjoying myself. I had people to talk to and to listen to. It was great.

Thanksgiving Day arrived and so did menstrually related Migraines and severe cramps. I attempted joining my parents to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (one of my favorite family traditions). But I had to make a hasty retreat to my bedroom for darkness and quiet as all the symptoms of a Migraine settled in. I ended up spending the whole day in bed away from all of our guests. I ate my mom's beautifully cooked meal in bed and spent most of the day in a medication/pain haze. I did venture out to watch part of a movie with family, but soon retreated to my quiet cave.

Although, this was not the Thanksgiving day I envisioned or hoped for, having my family together at my house brought me so much joy. I could hear their muffled laughter and pleasant conversation. I could hear them cheering or groaning while playing a board game. In the past, I had the reaction of being jealous that I was not present. But, this time, I was so happy that they were even there. I usually spend my days alone. And to have a house full of family was a huge blessing.

Holiday Tip #6: If the holidays do not go as you'd hoped or planned, try to find something to be glad about.

Best wishes this holiday season for finding enjoyment despite Migraine disease.


  1. Kelly,
    Thank you for the post. I, too, struggle with enjoying the moment. Thanks for the reminder. Also, thanks for the tip on communicating my limitations to friends and family. I find this especially difficult because I still want to do it all.


  2. Thank you for these tips! I really needed some advice for getting through the holidays!

  3. Aaaahh, enjoy the moment. Personally, that's the most important thing for me to remember. Once gone, you can't get those moments back.

    Happy New Year Kelly!!

    visit me at my WEGO Health Migraine blog

  4. Happy New Year! What is most helpful for me about enjoying the moment is that I have memories of those moments. If I am actively enjoying them, then I can retrieve them and live off their fuel when I am feeling bad.