Coping with chronic illnesses during the holidays

A chronic illness is defined as, “one lasting three or more months that cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication.” 

For those who have chronic illnesses, the holidays can be a difficult time due to a lack of money, traveling capabilities, food illnesses and other symptoms that can be difficult for family and friends to understand. For someone who has a chronic illness it can be difficult to not attend holiday parties and even get out of said parties. 

Here are four tips to help make the holidays from Thanksgiving to New Years a little bit easier this year! 

Come up with a plan of action 

Set realistic expectations for yourself. If you cannot physically handle five family events, then do not wear yourself out by going to all five. If two is realistic, then two it is! Another one is how late you can or cannot stay at a said event. Let the person hosting know this before hand that you can come but can only stay until X time because of medical issues. 

When you first arrive at a holiday event, everyone will want to chit-chat and once you and everyone else have settled in, chit chatting might be replaced with games. This is the perfect time to take needed medication, take a moment to breathe or anything else you might need. 

Plan a recovery day 

The holidays are stressful and just about everyone will more than likely agree with that. You have to go to Aunt Sheila's in the morning, then to grandmas, back home for a bit and then dinner at mom and dad’s and that is just ONE day! This does not include any early holiday celebrations with friends and other family members. 

The best thing to do is plan enough days in-between each event to allow for some recovery. It can be a day of absolute silence getting a chiropractic adjustment, getting a massage or some lunch and shopping for yourself. No matter what self-care and recovery looks like for you, plan for it. This can be your way to get ready for the next round of holiday parties and festivities. 

It is not all about money 

The holidays are a time of giving gifts to those you love, but it is not all about the gifts and money. For some people with a chronic illness during the holidays, this might make your finances tight due to medication and other factors in their lives. The holiday seasons are expensive for everyone, so do not  feel bad for not buying presents or only buying one per person. 

Never feel bad about not buying presents because that is not what the holidays are about!

Bring nonalcoholic beverages 

The holidays are about fun, celebration and being with those who you love but a major part of the holidays includes alcoholic consumption. A quarter of the $49 billion that is spent on alcohol annually in the U.S. comes from the months between Thanksgiving and New Years. In two to three months a QUARTER of $49 billion is spent during this small window of the holiday season. 

For those with a chronic illness during the holidays, it can be difficult to not partake in drinking alcohol or being peer-pressured into drinking. A solution that can help is to buy a sparkling cider, non-alcoholic beer and other options for those who cannot drink due to medication or illnesses. If you would like to have an alcoholic beverage, please consult with your doctor before partaking in a glass of Eggnog or wine. 

The holidays are a time to celebrate and be festive which can sometimes be difficult but these four steps can possibly help those with chronic illnesses! 


We’re Wisniewski Chiropractic, part of the Thrive Wellness Omaha network. Dr. Wisniewski is an expert in chiropractic care. We believe in healthcare that relies less on medication and more on  prevention through the use of proper diet, exercise and patient education. Our chiropractic services follow a three-part plan: relieve your pain first, address the root cause, and make a plan for your future wellness.