6 Tips for the holidays with hypermobility

After the last few years of upheaval, disconnection, isolation and what felt like infinite changes to the way we live our lives, many are looking forward with joy to the Christmas holidays. Others are peeking ahead with anticipatory anxiety. After all, what will Christmas look like this year? It really feels like anyone’s guess. But one thing I do know is this, we all experience the holidays differently, and there is no right or wrong way to feel about it.

Many are looking forward to catching up with friends and family they have been separated from throughout the year; others are worrying about how they will cope with spending Christmas alone this year. 

Some are looking forward to giving and receiving gifts; others are concerned about how they will respond (literally, react) to gifts – think MCAS, allergies, psychological triggers. Others can’t afford to buy gifts because their health care costs more than they can afford. 

Some are looking forward to catching up with relatives they only see once a year, and they’d give anything to see them; others are silently trembling at the thought of having to be in the same room with a particular someone in their family. They’d give anything not to see them. 

The preparation that goes into Christmas, this one special day of the year, can be exciting for those who thrive off the festive spirit; and a one-stop-trip to the hospital (or bed) for those whose body’s cannot keep up anymore. 

For many, the festive season is a high point of the year, where families come together, joy is all around, and smiles and happiness predominates. The happiness, peace, joy that plasters greeting cards is not everyone’s reality, and for many, it’s the saddest day of the year. It might be lost loved ones that are being deeply missed; the triggering of past traumas; loneliness; or poverty. Or, they may just hate Christmas (this is OK too).

Whatever you feel this Christmas, remember it’s OK to feel your feelings. They are valid, they are allowed, and they are only feelings. Please remember to reach out for support if it’s all too much or you find you’re not coping. You don’t have to feel those feelings alone.

No matter what Christmas is going to be like for you this year – and by Christmas, I mean “the holiday season”, so even if you don’t celebrate the religious holiday or buy into the commercialised holiday, here are some tips for getting through December!

  1. SELF CARE – you need to look after YOU. And if you’re a parent of a little person who has hypermobility, you need to plan some self-care for them too. What might this look like?
    1. pyjama days
    2. saying no to invitations
    3. quiet time
    4. getting enough sleep
    5. eating well
    6. avoiding triggers (emotional, allergic)
    7. supporting them to ride the emotional wave 
  2. PACING – December days fill up fast with invitations to Christmas events – parties, pageants, concerts, family gatherings. Remember, it’s OK to say no; it’s OK to take time out and give yourself (and your little one if you have one) a break. Try limiting to one event a day, and perhaps even one per weekend, depending on how fatigued or sore you are/your little one is. 
  3. PRIORITISE – Not all events or gatherings are must-do events. Choose your priority events and stick to them. Don’t get swayed into doing more than you know you can tolerate. Also, prioritise your energy; fatigue is going to have an avalanche effect and the last thing you want is to crash at the bottom of the mountain for the pinnacle of the season. So, ‘easy does it’ in the lead up to the big day.
  4. BOUNDARIES – I love the fact that no is a whole sentence. Are you coming to Aunt Betty’s? “No” Are you making banoffee pie for dessert? “No” And if they follow up with a “why?” or worse some guilting comment like “oh, but we really want to see you!” be prepared to respond with something that honours the above points, “I’m doing what’s best for me,” “I cannot manage that right now,” or “I don’t have capacity to do that this year.” “I just can’t” will also suffice. 
  5. EASE UP – on the alcoholic beverages and any other indulgences you know that on each Boxing Day/December 26th, you absolutely regret. 
  6. CONNECT – Being able to connect with people during the holidays is important for a lot of people. So while still enforcing your boundaries, utilising pacing, prioritising where your energy goes and engaging in self-care, make time to truly connect with those around you (or even those far away, by whatever means possible). 

And most of all, have a safe holiday season.

6 tips for the holidays when you're hypermobile. Image description grey background with while and silver Christmas ornaments
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