The holidays traditionally take a toll on most people, let alone if you are someone with a chronic neurologic illness. It is very important to remember if you or someone you care for has a chronic neurologic condition, inherently their reserve is less than the rest of us. Thus in times of increased business and stress, for example around the holidays, someone with a chronic neurologic issue may have more difficulties than others. The symptoms that arise during hectic times are not necessarily indicative of a true neurologic change, but rather simply a sign of “holiday stress”.
Some things to pay attention to that may indicate you are doing too much – increased fatigue and anxiety, mood changes including frustration and depression and even changes in one’s physical symptoms, such as increased weakness. This may lead to a perception of a decline or worsening in your neurologic status. These symptoms are likely transient and will likely decrease when the stress decreases. Slow down.
On the other hand, if you are someone who does not have family or friends near by to celebrate with, you may develop the “holiday blues”. Perhaps you feel lonely, isolated or “depressed”. If this is the case, it is important to seek out opportunities to be around others and purposefully put yourself in social situations. Regardless of your living environment, you can find situations to be social with others. We all have a need to be around others.
If you feel as though you maybe someone with too much stress or loneliness during the holiday season then the list below maybe helpful. This is a good review of things that all of us need to remember to do on a regular basis, but tend to get forgotten during busy times. Do not forget if you are experiencing new symptoms, at least some of them are likely transient and will resolve with time. Remember getting back to your normal daily routine as quickly as possible will be helpful in resolving your current symptoms and should be your top priority.
Dr. Deborah Boland, D.O., MSPT
Neurologist/Movement Disorder Specialist
Owner Be Mobile Neurology
DR. BOLAND’S TOP TEN TIPS
Recovering from Holiday Stress For Patients With Chronic Neurologic Disease
- Schedule less and cancel plans if needed
- Exercise – get back in your routine
- Diet – return to your normal diet
- Fluids – remember at least 48-64 oz daily
- Deep Breathing – slow, in through the nose out through the mouth
- Medications – do a thorough medication review to ensure nothing has been forgotten
- Sleep – 6-8 hours per night
- Relax – take time to do nothing
- Reflect – on the prior year and self improvement you may want
- Positive Attitude – be thankful