The greatest gift this Christmas: kindness

The presents, the food, the drink, the friends, the family, the self-imposed pressure to be at the heart of it all. Oh how this time of year brings back memories of last Christmas.

Christmas 2016, with hindsight, was the time at which my body began to shut down. I didn’t know it at the time, but the year that followed would see me stopping work, struggling to do even the daily basics, have moments where I couldn’t string a sentence together, and multiple occasions where I’d heap pressure and guilt on myself for being the way I was.

With days to go until this year’s big day I am a different person.

I still struggled with fatigue and pain and occasional brain fog, but the lessons I’ve learned and have tried to share through these blog posts and my Daily Dose articles suddenly feel so timely.

My Christmas will be spent with my fiance and his family. It will be a day of joy and laughter, of food and drink, of giving and receiving presents. It will also be a day I will gave prepared for carefully to ensure I can enjoy it as much as I intend, and one where – should my plans go wrong – it will still be okay because I won’t beat myself up for missing out on any part of it.

As I wrote right at the outset of launching Zonked Club, pacing is key.

Because I know Christmas Day has the potential to be a long day, and will certainly be a day of sensory overload – in a wonderful way, I have cleared the decks for the days beforehand.

There is nothing in my diary between now and Christmas Day in five days from now.

We may go for some strolls. We may see some friends. But I am under no obligation, meaning I’m heaping no unnecessary pressure on myself.

Come Christmas Day I plan to quietly disappear at various points for a quiet lie down. I may sleep. I may not. But I know lying down with zero stimuli will help boost my internal battery.

By the same token, on the days which follow, I also have a light schedule with nothing taxing planned as I know my brain will be foggy and my body drained. Again, that’s okay. Because I know it I can plan for it.

This understanding of fatigue and pain and brain fog and pacing means I can still do nice things. It just means I can’t burn the candle at both ends, and I have to make some sensible sacrifices or compromises. As much as I’d love to go out partying this weekend, it would be the most silly thing to do as I’d be wiped out on Christmas Day.

That those around me understand makes a big difference. If those around you don’t quite ‘get’ your symptoms, I have written a short article especially for friends and family. It’s not Christmas-themed, but the essence of it remains true.

The greatest gift to myself this year is kindness. Being kind to myself in giving myself permission to rest and take lots of breaks. Kind by not overdoing it. Kind by appreciating the things I can do, rather than dwelling and wasting energy on reliving the things I can’t do.

Give yourself a kind Christmas. Wherever that may be and whoever it may be with, take it gently and enjoy those special moments.

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