The holiday season can be challenging for all of us, but living with a chronic disease can be even more difficult. Lymphedema presents its challenges, especially at this busy time of year. The Compression Closet has some tips and tricks to help you manage this holiday season’s stress while dealing with your lymphedema, hopefully with more ease, grace, and mindfulness.
MINDFULNESS DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON
This year, my sister gave me a mindfulness advent calendar. My daily mindfulness tips have helped me significantly reduce the stress of the holiday season and keep me focused on what is truly important. I want to share a few of my favorites with you, and hopefully, they will also improve your holiday season.
- Simplify your day by identifying just three goals. Then, one at a time, focus on achieving these three goals. Narrowing your to-do list has many benefits, including stress reduction and increased productivity and satisfaction.
- When decorating, be fully present in the moment, approaching the task as if it were the first time you ever decorated your home for the holidays. Notice and embrace the excitement and anticipation that build during the process.
- Treat yourself to a relaxing hot drink and focus on the experience. Pay attention to the sounds and sensations involved in making a hot drink. Hear the gurgle of the boiling water, see the steam rising, smell the drink’s aroma, and feel the cup’s warmth in your hand. Notice every little action, directing your attention consciously to feel relaxed, energized, and loved.
- Few activities involve you more comprehensively in the present than singing. Bring the joy of the holidays into your day by singing a Christmas Carol. Feel the breath in your chest and the vocal vibration in your throat; hear the sound of your voice; follow the melody pattern; consider the lyrics’ meaning. Singing engages you entirely in the moment and can be as relaxing as exhilarating.
TRAVELING WITH LYMPHEDEMA DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Traveling with lymphedema presents the problem of non-movement for long periods. Your lymphatic system needs movement to function properly. So, when traveling, keep in mind these tips!
- If traveling by car, make frequent stops to stretch and walk around, moving your body and lymph.
- Try to move about the cabin frequently if traveling by train or plane.
- If you cannot stop or move around the cabin, pump your ankles frequently or practice deep breathing to get your lymph flowing.
- Wear loose, nonrestrictive clothing to prevent the restriction of lymph flow.
- Be sure to wear your compression garments when traveling.
THOSE HOLIDAY GOODIE
How can we resist all those holiday goodies we know are bad for us? Be kind to yourself, and instead of an all-or-nothing approach, how about moderation and the best choices?
- Minimize diuretics such as alcohol and beverages with caffeine in them.
- Limit salty foods.
- Make sure you are well hydrated to help flush toxins from your body.
- Limit your sweets and carbohydrates, but don’t deny yourself completely.
- Practice moderation in all things to fully enjoy your holidays.
Although the holidays are a busy time of year and can add a great deal to our to-do list, keeping to your exercise schedule is essential. Consider incorporating the following into your routine:
- A walk after dinner is an excellent way to relax and help you digest your food.
- A little yoga after shopping to ease your muscles and calm your mind from the hectic pace.
- Swimming is always a good exercise for lymphedema at any time of year.
- Simple stretching, along with deep breathing, can ease stress and tension.
- Even building a snowman, if weather permits, gives you fresh air, exercise, and fun! Movement is vital to improve lymph flow, but do not overdo it.
Whether traveling or hosting for the holidays, a little planning ahead can make your holiday more enjoyable and safer.
- Schedule time to rest and put your feet up. Naps are healthy and refreshing!
- Remember to breathe! Deep diaphragmatic breathing reduces stress and moves lymph.
- Plan your holiday meal with plenty of healthy choices, and keep your selection open.
- Bring your food dishes if need be so you can have healthy options.
- Don’t add stress by waiting until the last minute to complete everything. Be kind to yourself!
WISHING YOU THE HAPPIEST OF HOLIDAYS
The holidays are not always the most relaxing of times. Some will feel the pressures of all the extra responsibilities, while others think the strain of forced merriment. So take a moment, step back from the rush and craziness, and dedicate some time to doing something you genuinely enjoy. Self-care is not selfish; it is essential for mental and physical health.
Disclaimer – This blog, lymphedema & the Holidays: 20 Survival Tips, is for general information. Furthermore, the information contained in this blog is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult a licensed healthcare professional for advice on your specific condition.