Healthy Holiday Expectations: A How To Guide

Tis the season for celebration… and angst; for hustle and bustle… and unrealistic expectations.

Whatever you do, don’t let Norman Rockwell’s homey visions and Martha Stewart’s superior homemaking be the catalyst for your own anxiety. Your Christmas holiday may not rival that of a sentimental old black and white movie, but that wasn’t real life anyway.

One is hard-pressed to find the silver lining in the economic decline over the past several years, but there is more emphasis on home and hearth this Christmas and less emphasis on commercial goods as the fulfillment of holiday wishes. That’s a very good thing.

If you live life with a chronic illness, tackling the holiday “to do” list can be overwhelming. The first item on your “to do” list should be to cull the “to do” list. Ask yourself which items are truly necessary and which can be eliminated.

The second item should be to have realistic expectations; don’t squander the joy of the present moment by focusing on minutia.

If you have a lot of chores and errands to do, try to concentrate on one task at a time. You can reduce your stress level by blocking out what needs to be done tomorrow or the next day. Pace yourself physically and mentally.

Delegate! There is no shame in asking for or accepting help. If someone else can take on a chore, order a gift, run an errand, let go of the reins and let them do it. Christmas should be a family affair when it comes to preparations as well as celebrating.

Forget about those self-imposed expectations for a perfect house with perfect decorations and perfect meals. Perfection is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Just say no… if you’ve been asked to whip up one more Christmas treat, volunteer at one more function, or host/attend yet another get-to-gether that is simply too taxing. Other people don’t necessarily know or understand that your illness may be acting up — it’s up to you not to take on more than you can reasonably handle.

Go with the flow when mishaps occur. There’s always something that doesn’t go according to plan and often those are the very things we remember and laugh about at future family gatherings. You can’t put a price tag on a good sense of humor.

This is a tough commitment, but keep foods high in sugar and empty carbohydrates to the bare minimum. These foods spike your blood sugar and send you crashing later. Those few minutes of bliss will take a toll in the long run.

Listen to your body. Take a break — put your feet up, close your eyes and unwind, or give in to a nap when necessary.

If you’ve only got a small supply of energy, relax and spend it enjoying the people you love. It is by far the best gift you can give yourself… and your family.

Wishing you and yours all the best of the season.

Writer Ann Pietrangelo embraces the concept of personal responsibility for health and wellness. As a person living with multiple sclerosis, she combines a healthy lifestyle and education with modern medicine, and seeks to provide information and support to others. She is a regular contributor to’s Reform Health Policy blog in Causes.


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low beng kiat7 years ago


Serra M.
Serra M.8 years ago

Oh!!! thanks for this information guys. I really like it.
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Daniella I.
Daniella I8 years ago

: ) Merry Christmas, Ann!! Merry Christmas to all! : )


gerlinde p.
gerlinde p8 years ago

some very good advice there. thankyou

Sue M.
Sue M8 years ago

thank you for posting this

Karol K.
Karol K8 years ago

Great Article

Mervi R.
Mervi R8 years ago

I used stress and make a huge fuss over the holidays, now I´ve gone to the other extreme and don´t really disinguish it from any other time of the year at all, you could almost say I´ve given up celebrating the holidays all together.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W8 years ago


Jennifer E.
Jennifer E8 years ago

Lucky for us my husband's family takes turns hosting get-togethers. Every 3 years or so it's our turn and this year we go to my in-laws. The thing that makes it tough on me is my being a vegetarian and having to ask about ingredients or avoid foods altoghter. My love of animals and mother earth sort of makes me an outcast with them.

Lilith Graves
Lilith Graves8 years ago

Thanks for the info.