By Laura Walker, Managing Editor, The NEW! Fibromyalgia AWARE
The holidays can be tricky for those of us with fibromyalgia. This time of year is usually a time of togetherness, but it can also be a time of acute loneliness. When everyone else is gathering with friends and family and going to parties, we who can hardly move, let alone leave the house, may feel especially alone during the holidays. Even being among our relatives and friends who don’t know what it’s like to live with this illness, can leave us feeling very much alone and isolated.
Isolation is so often our default mode, especially during the dark days of winter when it’s harder to get out of the house and bed (if it’s even still possible). But isolation is a dangerous forest to get lost in. Being alone—or even being around other people but not having anyone you can talk to who understands FM—can lead to or deepen depression, a common overlapping condition with fibromyalgia. Being too much in your own head, listening to negative self-talk, thinking of all the “could’ves, would’ves and should’ves,” can make the holidays harder to bear.
Now don’t go kicking yourself while you’re up to your eyebrows in isolation. Instead, go ahead and congratulate yourself right now for recognizing it. For those of you who aren’t experiencing isolation, keep reading. You’ll benefit from this too.
Mindfulness for the Holiday or Any Day
Take a deep breath in. Hold it for 10 seconds. Release. Let your head and facial muscles relax, particularly your jaw, now your neck and shoulders, let the tension go from your torso, especially your back and stomach, allow this relaxation process to flow slowly down the rest of your body, part by part until you feel every toe let go. Continue to take some nice deep breaths all the way down into your belly, gently exhaling.
Now that you’re good and relaxed, make a conscious decision to allow yourself the pleasure of interacting with other people on a regular basis, and then make a plan for doing so. Will you call a friend and talk for a while? Invite a relative over for coffee or tea? Message a fellow spoonie on Facebook and ask how they are doing? Venture out to your local FM support group meeting?
And for you non-isolationists, please reach out to others in the community who may need a friend. Reply to their comments on NFA Facebook posts. Let them know you understand and care about them.
I promise you that no matter which way you reach out and connect with another person, when you do it with love in your heart, you will be giving a priceless gift and receiving countless gifts in return.
You are the gift.
You matter. Yes, you. We at the NFA care about you, as individuals and as a community. We know you hurt. We feel it too. You are not alone. We understand what it’s like and know that we’ve got to be there for each other.
Together we thrive. Even if it’s just two of us chatting on the phone, or a bunch of spoonies sharing comments on a Facebook post, as long as we stick together, we will do more than just survive. And there’s more to life than just survival.
May you enjoy peace and love now and always.
Here’s a gift from the NFA to you. We’ve put together 12 Days of HOLIDAY CHEER with the hope of giving you some inspiration for the coming year.
The National Fibromyalgia Association