Navigating Social Events with Multiple Sclerosis

We were designed to live in community. It feels good to spend time with family and friends. We reminisce on the good ol’ days. We share updates on each other’s lives. And of course, the shared laughter is good for our soul. We know this and believe this, but often multiple sclerosis prevents us from RSVP’ing yes to social gatherings.

So now that the season of holiday events and parties is upon us, how do we navigate this in the midst of dealing with the unpredictability of many MS symptoms, especially fatigue?

Prepare in advance

The first thing I find helpful to do is to recognize that it’s coming. It happens every year – the calendar fills up and there’s just simply more to get done in a day.

So, I start to think about this as early as September. What can I get a jumpstart on to lighten the load during the holiday months?

This may mean catching up on any doctor’s appointments that I need to fit in before the end of the year. Or it may mean finishing up any little projects I started around the house. I basically try to get caught up on as much as possible, as well as decide what I’m going to intentionally cross of my list for another time.

This helps me to feel like I’m creating even a little more breathing room for when the holidays pick up.

Simplicity is key

Next, I try to set expectations early and often to keep things simple.

I remind myself that when something is done more simply, I’m more likely to have the time and energy to enjoy it, and isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?

A perfect example of this is decorating the house. I love the idea of having my home twinkling in lights and wrapped in garland, but that’s a lot of work i.e. time and energy. However, if I keep it simple, I’m able to finish the task and enjoy the beauty of it with my family.

Simplicity can also be applied with gift exchanges. Instead of buying for every family member, you could do a Secret Santa concept where you’re each buying for just one person. That knocks out a lot of extra shopping and wrapping!

And speaking of wrapping that brings me to my next tip… take breaks!

Take breaks

It’s very easy to get caught up in the hype of the holiday season, whether you’re wrapping presents, baking cookies, decorating the house or prepping food for a holiday dinner.

One tip that can help to increase your stamina throughout the holiday season is to take frequent breaks.

For example, I try not to leave the gift wrapping to one day. I try to space it out, so it doesn’t become too overwhelming to do at once. If I’m prepping for a holiday dinner, I take breaks during that too. I might prep some food the day before or the morning of, so I can take a break and then feel better equipped to finish the task.

And when I’m taking those breaks, I find it especially helpful to set down my phone and just relax my body and mind. I’m likely to feel much more rested from a 20-minute nap versus 20 minutes of mindless scrolling on social media.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we can do to best manage the holidays. So, I’m curious, would you share in the comments below: what helps you to best navigate the holiday season with multiple sclerosis?

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