• Beth Matthews

10 Self-Care Techniques For You This Holiday Season

This year will be my first Christmas and New Years as being diagnosed with a chronic illness, whilst definitely ill for the past few years, this year I have the diagnosis, techniques of dealing with it, and the support of the Spoonie Community- and what a wonderful gift that support is. Subsequently, I’d love to share this support with you!

The holidays can be a tough time for anyone, let alone for someone with a Chronic Illness. No matter who you are or where you’re spending your holidays, here are ten self-care techniques I will be implementing which I hope will help you feel the best you can this time of year!

1. Being Spoon Smart!

This year, I will be planning in advance how and when I use my spoons to avoid ‘boom and bust’. I will be prioritising activities, so if I start to feel myself running out of spoons, I’ve done the most important things and the rest can wait while I recover. If you’re newly diagnosed or unfamiliar with the spoon theory, give it a little google, it’s a fantastic tool for pacing your days.

2. Eating Well!

I will definitely be indulging in rich, large dinner’s and I most definitely will be having second helpings if I can fit it in. But in between these luxurious meals, I will still be keeping an eye on my other food and drink intake, so I can truly enjoy my meals without sending my body into a flare because I shocked it with too much sugar. The key thing here is balance!

3. Setting alone time into your schedule!

If your family is anything like mine, you will be surrounded by people almost 24/7 - which is wonderful! But it can also be exhausting and anxiety-inducing. To avoid this causing me a flare-up, I will be scheduling one hour into every day where I spend a bit of time alone, doing something I enjoy to recharge. This could be going for a walk around the block, reading in bed when I wake up or before I go to sleep, or it could be sitting in silence watching the festivities around me for a little while.

4. Outsourcing!

I’m very lucky that I’m visiting family for the holiday seasons but it occurred to me that one day I might want to host, and some of you might be hosting this year! Outsourcing is a brilliant idea to save yourself some spoons and spend more time with the people you love, especially if they’re the ones helping you. Get your brother to bring the turkey to the table, ask your nieces and nephews to chip in with clean-up. There’s also the option of paid help, getting a cleaner is not lazy, it’s asking for help.

5. Spend time intentionally!

With holidays come obligations. Functions that maybe you’d rather skip, socialising at most hours of the days with people you don’t know that well, a lot of standing around and more! This holiday season I will be spending my time intentionally and not obligatory. If you don’t want to go to that function because it will impact your health and you won’t enjoy it, then don’t force yourself to go. Spend your time how you want - spend your time intentionally!

6. Make it a PJ Day!

My favourite part of Christmas is spending the whole day in pj’s, even when I go out for a post-dinner walk! It occurred to me this year, it will be more important than ever that I’m as comfortable as possible to truly enjoy the day, and what better way to do that than in my fluffy onesie and slippers.

7. Go Slowly!

The holidays can feel like a rush and blur, there’s always somewhere you need to be, something you need to buy, something to wrap… and so much to cook! This year I will be allowing myself to slow down, take everything one step at a time and forgive myself if something gets missed because I needed a break in between.

8. Exiting Toxic Situations!

Should I find myself in a toxic conversation or with a toxic person who affects my mental health, I will be taking myself out of the situation to preserve my mental health. You don’t have to spend time with anyone or anything that makes you feel negative. Your time is precious and you should treat it as such. This idea is easier said than done though and I realise it takes confidence and willingness to acknowledge a confrontation, if you can’t shut the conversation down or just don’t want to then here are some conversation exits I’ve used to politely remove myself in the past; excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, excuse yourself to help someone in the kitchen, or you could offer to get a refreshment then take a little while coming back, or if the people you’re with know about your illness, then excuse yourself to have a quick sit/lay down break.

9. Engage the senses!

The holidays can be overwhelming on the senses, especially when you tend to suffer from sensory overload as I can. To avoid this, but also enjoy everything around me, I will focus on engaging one sense at a time. Enjoy the smell of the food and drink when it’s peaceful; enjoy the Christmas lights when it’s quiet; enjoy the music when the lights are soft. Take it all one thing at a time. This can also be a great anxiety method to bring yourself out of panic mode and back into yourself, whilst also enjoying everything wonderful about the holiday season.

10. Don’t forget to breathe!

One final thing, don’t forget to take a breath. In the middle of your holiday madness, take a deep breath, and recentre yourself. This is the most joyful, fun time of year and you deserve to drink it in in all its glory; Christmas is all about peace and joy and the New year is all about celebrating achievements and reflecting on the year. When you remember to breathe, you’ll remember why this is the best time of year.


Your health is a priority, not a luxury, that includes at this time of year. It can be difficult to find time for self-care during the holidays because they’re so busy, but you are a priority - remember that and have a wonderful Christmas & New Year. Most importantly, be safe.

Sending lots of spoons, positivity, and gentle hugs Xx

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