Activities · Chronic Illness · Mental Health

Enjoyable Things To Do When Living With a Chronic Illness

I am not going to lie to you, the last few weeks have been tough. I have been feeling unwell with a host of symptoms old and new. Today has been a better day and I wanted to get a post out, albeit short and sweet.

With this in mind, I wanted to hone in on enjoyable things to do when you are living with chronic illness. As always these things are dependent on energy levels and what symptoms are bothering you at the time, BUT it is always worthwhile having some things in your back pocket for those better days.

Enjoyable things to do:

  • Reading and/or listening to audio books
  • Listening to music
  • Painting
  • Crafting
  • Getting outside
  • Photography
  • Writing
  • Soaking in the bath
  • Watching TV/Films
  • Baking
  • Going through old photos and reminiscing
Photo by Valeria Boltneva on Pexels.com
  • Daydreaming
  • Learning
  • Relaxing
  • Remembering how far you’ve come
  • Reading/hearing inspirational quotes
  • Planning
  • Watching comedy clips and laughing
  • Dancing
  • Listing things you like about yourself
  • Doing something for someone else
  • Eating

I wonder how many of these activities you can relate to when it comes to finding enjoyable things to do. Maybe you have your own that you would like to share….

'Living with' Series · Fibromyalgia

Living with… Fibromyalgia

It’s a new week and therefore a new instalment in my ‘Living with…’ series, and this week we are talking about Fibromyalgia. You can view previous posts in the series about Tourette Syndrome here, PCOS here and UCTD here.

So let’s get started on life with Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is described by the NHS as a long-term condition which causes pain all over the body – but trust me it is so much more.

As well as pain, people with Fibromyalgia can suffer with fatigue, stomach problems, headaches, muscle stiffness, pain sensitives, dizziness, cognitive issues such as brain fog and these are just a few of the symptoms.

Fibro is notoriously difficult to diagnose, but more than that it is a condition which is hard to get significant recognition for.

When and how I got diagnosed

Fibromyalgia was a diagnosis I received around the age of 27. Like a lot of people with this condition I was ill for a very long time before I was considered to have something more going on than just being stressed out. My initial symptoms were dismissed on a regular basis by health professionals who believed I was simply burning out from work, but I was becoming more and more unwell. So unwell in fact I became like someone in my 80s and not my 20s. It affected my ability to work, to socialise, in fact my ability to do anything.

After much back and forth with the doctor and referrals to the wrong clinics, I was eventually diagnosed with Fibro by a Rheumatologist and discharged from their care the very same day.

What I find different with Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is the condition I have fought against the most out of all my conditions, purely because of the lack of support available. Whilst the majority of my conditions are invisible on me, I have found Fibro itself invisible in the medical world too. There seems to be no form of treatment other than self-management, no productive advice and no guidance on where to go after diagnosis. This of course may very well be different for others – a lot of the time these things are based on location, getting understanding doctors and local facilities available – this is just my personal experience.

What I wish people knew about Fibromyalgia

That Fibro is a condition that fluctuates. Therefore it is possible to have ‘better’ days where you can do more on some days than others. However this doesn’t mean you are suddenly cured or like some people believe ‘are not as ill as you make out,’ – the reality is a good day for me isn’t the same as a good day for you, it is just a better day for me which isn’t the same thing.

The most difficult thing about living with Fibromyalgia

No doubt it is the endless symptoms attached to it. Having such an exhaustive list of symptoms is not only exhausting in itself to self-manage, but it is the never-ending factors that can set symptoms off. From the weather (both hot and cold), stress, anxiety, a bad night’s sleep, getting too much sleep, walking too much, not walking enough – the cycle can be constant.

What has Fibro taught me?

That I am way stronger than I ever give myself credit for. Fibro literally turned my life upside down and I lost everything from my job to my independence, yet I am still going. Yes I am still in the same position, but I am trying and that is all any of us can do.

For more advice on any Fibro symptoms (or symptoms related to any of my other conditions) check out my symptom section here where I give tips on things I have found helpful. Remember to always check with a doctor before trying any new suggestions.

Mental Health · Self-Esteem · Tips

Boost Your Self-Esteem Month

February is International Boost your Self-Esteem Month, so I thought this week I would talk about just that: self-esteem.

I was always someone who suffered with shyness growing up, and a lack of confidence. Someone who always wanted to be in the background. Nevertheless it was an issue with my self-esteem which was truly holding me back. It was how I viewed myself and my abilities which had the most damaging effect, because I never felt enough to anyone anywhere. It took me until my 30s to fully get to grips with my self-esteem issues and see the bigger picture, but there are times even now when I fall back into old habits. So, this blog post is a reminder to myself as much as everyone else to why boosting self-esteem is so important.

What is self-esteem? Self-esteem is an evaluation of your own self-worth, essentially the opinion we have of ourselves.

When somebody suffers from low self-esteem it can hold them back from doing things in life they want to do, make them believe they are not capable of success, make expressing their needs difficult, make them believe other people are better or more worthy than them, make them critical of themselves and overall give people a feeling of not being good enough.

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Boosting your self-esteem – especially when you have been used to feeling/thinking something for a long time – is a working progress. It takes time, patience and a lot of kindness to yourself, nevertheless here are my top tips:

  • Learn to say no – When you are a yes person you are putting other people’s needs before your own and this needs to change. To boost your self-worth you need to do what feels like the best option for you, and if that means not meeting up with a friend when they want you to then that is what you should do. To begin with people may badger you because they are so used to you saying yes, but the more you do it the more authority your voice will have.
  • Avoid focusing on negative experiences – Every time you think about something that has gone wrong in your life, you are emphasising the thoughts of not being good enough. The thoughts that you must be the problem or that it went wrong because of something you did. Acknowledge the event of course, but then leave it where it belongs: in the past.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others – One of the worst things you can do when it comes to self-esteem is compare your life to others (guilty as charged!). We are all on different paths at different times juggling different challenges, therefore how can your life be exactly the same as someone else? Living with chronic illness, it is hard not to see other people your age and see where they are in life in comparison to you – so don’t! Avoid social media searching and finding reasons to believe other people are better than you, instead focus your energy on yourself.
  • Learn about yourself – Rather than criticising yourself, why don’t you praise yourself and write down the positives in your life. Having low self-esteem can mean you have spent so long beating yourself up that you probably don’t really know yourself at all. What are you good at? What are your hobbies? What have you achieved? We all have things in life to be proud of no matter how small. By learning about yourself, it can remind you why you are good enough and change your opinion of your self. Read my post on gratitude lists for more ideas here.
  • Understand there is no thing such as perfect – The reality of life is nothing can be perfect all of the time, if ever at all. By holding high standards of where you think you should be or who you should be like, you are always setting yourself up to fail. Then when you fail you are confirming to yourself that you are not good enough and reinforcing your low self-esteem. Realising life is a learning curve in which you can only do your best in and that no situation will ever be 100% will help you regard your worth.

I hope you find these tips helpful – I for one will be reminding myself of a few of these things again. If there is anything you take away from this Boost your Self-Esteem Month make sure it is this: Know your worth and that you are good enough no matter what.

'Living with' Series · Chronic Illness · UCTD

Living with… UCTD

Today I am writing the third instalment of my ‘Living with…’ series, which details life with my five chronic conditions. You can read the first two instalments on Tourette Syndrome here and PCOS here.

So, life with UCTD. UCTD for those who have never heard of it, (I never had), stands for Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease. UCTD is normally diagnosed when a person has a number of specific symptoms and blood results related to autoimmune disease, but not all the symptoms to suggest a specific condition. Put simply you have the signs of autoimmune disease, without a full blown conclusion. Some people find their symptoms develop over time leading to a definitive condition, whilst others remain the same therefore never leaving that pre-diagnosis phase of illness.

When and how I got diagnosed.

UCTD is my most recent diagnosis and I have had officially had the condition now for around 6 months (longer if you count how long I have been unwell). I was diagnosed by a rheumatologist after displaying a number of symptoms which didn’t fit in with my Fibromyalgia or ME/CFS diagnoses, alongside a number of flagged up blood results. My consultant believes based on my symptoms and bloods, my UCTD is leaning towards Lupus.

The symptoms of UCTD differ from one person to another based on which condition they are linked with. For me, a lot of my symptoms were masked over and hidden by my other conditions and often explained away because of them. However, I knew in myself this wasn’t the whole picture and it was my blood results rather than my symptoms which finally paved the way for further investigation.

Living with… Series

What do I find different with UCTD?

The biggest difference between UCTD and my other conditions is this is the first condition I have ever had where I have received medication. With all my other conditions I was always told to self-manage and learn to live life with these limitations.

What I wish other people knew about the condition

As with the majority of my conditions, the most difficult thing about UCTD is the fact it is invisible and because it is invisible people don’t think it is real. On top of that UCTD tends to be an unknown condition, again making people become quite dismissive. I wish people understood the nature such conditions take on a persons body and realise that just because you don’t see see it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

The most difficult thing about living with UCTD

The most difficult thing about UCTD is the uncertainty of it all and whether this is going to be as bad as it gets, or whether I am going to get worse. Perhaps this has been somewhat determined in recent times because I had a telephone appointment with my specialist who said I needed to get my regular bloods done, and if all was well I would see him again in 12 months. However, I had a letter saying they would like to see me in the lupus clinic. It turned out my bloods were not great, and now 12 months has turned into 3 (although this has been extended due to covid). So, who knows what the future holds.

With all this said and done, if UCTD has taught me anything it is this: diagnoses are sometimes not always set in stone, symptoms can change, and I was right to trust my instincts all along.

Activities · Chronic Illness · Mental Health

The Pros and Pressures of Goal Setting with a Chronic Illness

We are officially making our way to the end of January already, and by now I am sure there are many people binning their new years resolutions, promising themselves they will start again soon.

This January 1st I made the decision for the first time in many years to not make new years resolutions. Why? Because I never ever complete them and as a result end up berating myself for my inability to achieve what I set out to do.

For anyone chronically ill or not, resolutions can be hard to keep, so why do we bother doing them at all? Maybe it is because a resolution is a firm decision to do something and that can be too much of an ask especially on bodies that don’t play ball. This is where we enter the world of goal making.

If you are like me and have been to anxiety and depression workshops or spoken to mental health practitioners, you will know goal setting is a vital tool used in the management of anxiety and/or depression. You may have also heard of the theory of using SMART when it comes to setting goals to make them more achievable. Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time-limited goals are deemed easier to accomplish.

Goals are a great source of focus when it comes to dealing with mental health as a way of giving yourself direction, motivation and confidence when you can see your achievements taking place. But how useful are they in chronic illness?

As someone who has multiple chronic illnesses and someone who has suffered with mental health issues I find goal making a juggling act. My mental health needs a focus, to feel like I am working towards something, but setting goals also brings out the ‘pre-chronic illness me’ – the person who cannot stop until something is finished, the person who overthinks, over plans, who wants to overachieve, and therefore puts the ‘me of today’ at risk by pushing my chronically ill body beyond it’s limits.

Of course there is no ruling saying you need to achieve each goal on the day you say you are going to do it, yet it doesn’t stop me from trying. To top it off on the days when it is so physically impossible for me to do so, I play the blame game with my own body for not allowing me to tick it off the list.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

So what is the answer?

I think goals are a useful tool for most people, but I think personally for me adapting the format they take in my life is key. Using the SMART goal system whilst useful needs fairly generous adaptations to fit in with chronic illness life that as many of us know is so unpredictable.

My adaptations include:

  • Adjusting the goals on a regular basis inline with what my body needs at that moment in time. E.g. If I am struggling with my symptoms I will change my goal specifics each week (if indeed I am able to do anything at all) to determine what I am capable of each week/day.
  • Taking regular breaks from goal setting – Having my mind constantly set on achieving goals brings out the ‘me’ before illness and whilst I believe it is important for me to have a focus, I also think it is important for me to have times where I am not preoccupied with trying to achieve something. At times it is nice just to be and deal with what is happening right now.
  • Learning to be kind to myself – This really is a work in progress because I often find myself falling into bad habits, but reminding myself it is ok if I haven’t completed a goal on the day I had scheduled to do it, because it is not my fault can be helpful thinking.

In conclusion, goal setting is a great tool to have in your ‘medical toolbox.’ Goals can work wonders for your mental health and give you a sense of reward, however as always it is always vital to factor in your chronic illness needs in line with that. Pushing yourself is something your body won’t thank you for, so always be true to yourself and remember just because something didn’t happen today there is always tomorrow.

Anxiety · Chronic Illness · Mental Health · Personal · Stress Management

Talking to a Stranger – The Benefits of Counselling

The thought of talking to anyone – stranger or not, can be a terrifying prospect for a lot of people. The idea of spilling your deepest fears, thoughts and experiences can even bring you out in a cold sweat and maybe once upon a time it would have done the same to me, but not anymore.

I have been to a number of talking therapies since my teens. I say talking therapies because two of those occasions were classic counselling scenarios and the other three were through the healthy minds service at my doctors surgery. The difference between the two being healthy minds focused on techniques and goal setting to improve anxiety and depression e.g. CBT which were about moving forward. The classic counselling sessions were much more relaxed and I was in control with what we spoke about which enabled me to talk about my past, present and perceived future.

The key element when it comes to counselling is finding the right counsellor that is a fit for you. The first time I tried counselling I did not gel with the women I was with at all and although you had the option to change counsellors, I felt obliged to continue with her and as a result played down my emotions trying to give her the answers I felt she wanted to hear. The second time I tried, several years later, it couldn’t have been more different and I was able to open up about my real emotions meaning I could really tackle the things that were holding me back the most.

In a nutshell I went to counselling to force myself to confront the anxiety I had held on to since childhood and to face my demons regarding my multiple chronic illnesses. At the time of attending counselling sessions I was very much in the grief process of my illnesses – grief for the life I had planned that I now wouldn’t have. Unknown to me I had been in years of denial (and I mean years) trying to convince myself my diagnoses were wrong and that there must be something out there to make me better, as well as toying with anger that this was happening to me. It was during my counselling period that I went through the bargaining stage making myself go back to work in the quest to get the old me back which only ended in disaster and as a result a period of sadness and emptiness rather than depression. It was only after I finished counselling I entered into the stage of acceptance – something I found I needed to do on my own.

Photo by Artem Podrez on Pexels.com

Counselling wasn’t a quick fix to me accepting my conditions and my altered reality, but it was a way of getting to open up in a way I could never do with anyone else. Talking to people who knew me was hard because of just that – they knew me. They felt my loss as much as I did and I couldn’t be honest about how ill I felt each day or how worthless I felt about what my life had become without upsetting them. I couldn’t express how their behaviour made me feel without hurting them and that was the last thing I wanted to do. For more about family, friends and chronic illness read my previous blog post here.

Talking to a stranger who didn’t know me or my life, or anyone in my life for that matter was a great comfort. A source of support that I began to rely on each week. Taking to this woman, I was able to shake my guilt and admit my jealousy of seeing other people move on with their lives whilst I felt stuck. Instead of covering up my feelings I was able to be open which enabled me to realise that my feelings are credible and that it is ok not to feel ok with what has happened in my life. I shouldn’t have to filter my emotions. As well as the emotional bits though, counselling also helped me to get to know myself again – to realise there was more to me than my conditions.

Nowadays we have so many avenues when it comes to reaching out to others, it is just about finding what works for you. Counselling can take a variety of different forms and in this current climate you don’t even need to leave your house to access it. You can take part in telephone sessions, virtual online ones and if talking 1-2-1 is not your thing there are resources such as support groups to get you started.

For anyone struggling with finances I know traditional counselling with a qualified practitioner can be near impossible, I have never been able to afford private counsellors myself. Instead you can follow in my footsteps and access charity counselling services which are normally run by volunteers who only request you make a donation for each session based on what you can realistically afford.

Counselling in whatever format is definitely something I would recommend especially if you are unable to talk to people in your everyday life. There is no shame in needing to talk to someone and share your feelings. In fact just saying them out loud can make such a big difference and talking to a stranger can be more therapeutic than you think!

Activities · Chronic Illness · Personal

Chronic Illness Friendly Gifts Haul

Happy New Year everyone and welcome to my first blog post of the year. I can’t believe we are in 2021 already, but I am excited to be back blogging and have many ideas for the months ahead.

Over the festive period I watched a lot of YouTube videos and noticed that a lot of YouTubers and influencers do videos about what they got for Christmas, so this has been my inspiration for my first post. I thought I would share with you the chronic illness friendly gifts I received at Christmas and why I feel they are beneficial to my chronic illnesses.

Please note gifts are not about expense, they are about finding thoughtful ideas which mean a lot to another person. Smaller things are often things that mean the most.

Items to keep me warm

As any chronic illness warrior will know keeping warm is a must. My conditions impact my circulation so I am cold the majority of the time. With this in mind I was delighted to receive a brand new fluffy hot water bottle and a mustard yellow bobble hat – both great additions to these cold winter days.

My Winter Warmers

A Massage Gun

Alongside my Fibromyalgia pain, I do get a lot of muscular aches and pains from my body tensing due to my Tourette’s. The massage gun comes with a variety of different heads designed to help with a variety of problem areas on a deep tissue level. Whilst I wouldn’t advise this for Fibro pain because the vibrations can actually hurt your body (and it did mine) I have found it helpful for specific knots.

Skin Products

My skin is so sensitive it is unbelievable, so much so I tend to struggle with even the ‘sensitive friendly’ products you often come across. I am yet to try these, but my mum gifted me the cutest beauty products in the form of Simple facial wash, micellar water and moisturiser. A couple of them are hypoallergenic (REMEMBER to always check when using products yourself) and contain less plastic. So watch this space with how I get on.

A selection of books and films

Being chronically ill you are often struck down with days where you really can’t do a great deal so having items such as books and films are a great resource to pass the time. I received a variety of films including Christmassy ones such as Last Christmas and horror ones such as IT Chapter 2 which I can choose based on my mood and books from my favourite authors Erin Green and C.L. Taylor.

Reading Time

Stretchy Dresses

I know a lot of people with chronic illness like to wear comfy clothes that are easy to wear and don’t require much fuss, I have to confess for me that consists of skirts and dresses more so than trousers. I was lucky enough to receive two dresses for Christmas which are comfortable and stretchy all whilst remaining stylish. These are perfect for someone like me who often has a bloated stomach as I don’t have to worry about anything digging in.

Money

One of the most useful gifts you can receive as a chronic illness person is money. Being chronically ill and working class I struggle for money a lot and having money gifted to me allows me to buy those things I need the most, yet often cannot afford. Not having money also makes you think more about spending it on worthwhile things and not just blow it on any old thing, so I am still planning what I would like to spend it on and what I am of need of the most.

Other Gifts

Art Gallery Gifts – Art Galleries are a huge hobby of mine and the art displayed in them often evokes an air of mindfulness for me not many other activities do. Even without current times I do struggle getting to galleries so gifts which enable me to enjoy the atmosphere in my own home is amazing.

Duvet CoverMug Diary

Here you have it the chronic friendly gifts I received this year – I am so grateful for the gifts I got and thankful the buyer considers my chronic illness needs. I think chronic illness buying can be quite a difficult task for people who don’t have chronic conditions – did your loved ones consider your needs this year?

Chronic Illness · Mental Health · Personal

Review of the Year 2020

Well what can I say other than 2020 has been a year I think none of us will forget. I don’t want to make this a post about the pandemic because we see that everywhere, but I would like to talk about how 2020 has changed for me on a personal level and the chronic illness community in general.

Chronic Illness Community

I think if there is anything to take away from this year it is the notion that lockdown has enabled other people to see what life is like for the chronic illness community on a daily basis. From not being able to get out of the house, to having plans cancelled, limited social interactions and a sense of a never-ending conclusion – ‘healthy’ people have had a taster of what our lives are like.

I would like to say moving forward people will be more mindful when it comes to the lives of the chronically ill and disabled, but like with anything in life there are no guarantees. I think there are definitely a ratio of people who are now more understanding and thoughtful to the reality of chronic illness, yet I also believe there are a huge number who still don’t necessarily care or are bothered because ultimately it isn’t them.

NICE Guidelines

For my fellow ME/CFS sufferers here in the UK, there was some good news in the form of the NICE guidelines stating that graded exercise therapy (GET) should not be offered for the treatment of ME/CFS. This is a welcome relief for many sufferers who have often been advised and in some cases pushed to up their exercise levels with the idea it would help when in fact it was only make things worse.

My Personal Health

My health has been very up and down this year with me receiving my fifth diagnosis in the form of Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease (UCTD) several months ago. This led me onto the track of trialling medication which has had its pros and cons. I am still ill most days and at times I can’t even tell which condition is causing which symptom anymore, I have so many.

This year I also experienced a collapse which led to a visit from the paramedics and after some not great blood test results has led to another referral to another clinic for yet another second opinion. This is scheduled for the start of 2021 which was a slight shock because my consultant had said they didn’t need to see again for 12 months, but after my collapse that got changed to three.

It’s funny really when chronic illness has been a part of your life for so long, you are no longer phased by another appointment. Once upon a time these appointments would scare me, but now I have accepted I am ill I take it a lot more in my stride because whilst my physical health is still taking a battering, my mental health has improved.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Me, Myself and Chronic Illness Blog

I think what has been helping my mental health and has allowed me to take things in my stride is this right here – my blog and all you wonderful people who have ever read one of my posts. I can’t believe I started my blog in April this year, with my first post going live at the beginning of May. Since then I have done 51 posts covering (I hope) mainly topics surrounding chronic illness and mental health.

I have many ideas lined up for the blog going into 2021 which I hope will be useful and interesting to you all. However I am always open to any topics or ideas anybody has so feel free to leave me a message in the comment section or contact me on Twitter or Facebook and I will do my best to follow up on them.

I want to finish up by saying that this will more than likely be my last post for 2020 as I will be taking a break for Christmas. I want to thank you all for your support and having you take the time to read my blog means the world to me. Here’s to a Happy New Year for us all.

Lots of Love

Sarah xx

Activities · Christmas · Chronic Illness

Top 5 Christmas Activities for Chronic Illness Warriors

Seeing as people seemed to enjoy my post back in the summer about the top 5 summer activities for chronic illness warriors, I have decided to do a Christmas version.

Christmas is traditionally seen as a time of year which is full of fun with never ending events and things to do. However when you are chronically ill some of these activities may not be appropriate inline with your body’s needs and your energy levels.

As we all know this year is going to be a very different year anyway, but I would like to share with you my top activities at Christmas when you have chronic illnesses.

1 – Feast on festive treats

One of the best things to do at Christmas time is snuggle up on the sofa with a big Christmas sweater and enjoy a nice mug of hot chocolate (marshmallows and cream are hard to resist!). Perfect for a chronic illness warrior because you are not only getting a festive treat, but you can relax on the sofa whilst doing so and stay true to your normal attire of baggy clothes for comfort just with a funky festive flare. Obviously this is allergy and diet dependent, so you may need to make adjustments where needed, but this time of year there are many Xmas foods you can divulge in.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

2 – Watch Xmas films and/or tv

Watching films and/or television is a great chronic illness activity as it allows you to chill out and relax on the sofa or in bed without much physical activity. Christmas films and shows are a great form of escapism which in turn can give you a focus on something other than feeling unwell. Remember you can adapt this activity to your individual needs by choosing the length of film/programme you watch and deciding if this is an activity you would like to do alone or with others. For ideas on the best Christmas films to watch you can check out my blog post on my top Christmas film picks here.

3 – Sale shopping

I did debate a bit about whether to add this to the list because I am aware shopping (physical or online) can be very energy draining especially on a time line. I for one find shopping an activity which can wipe me out for days on end even if it is done through my computer. However if like me you find being chronically ill greatly effects your finances then finding bargains in the sale can be a lifeline on items you desperately need, but cannot normally afford. If doing this yourself is too difficult maybe you could put a list together of things you particularly need and ask someone else to do the investigating for you!

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

4 – Give back to charity

When you live with chronic illness a lot of your time can be taken up with having to think about your own needs (and how most of the time you are not listening to them), but Christmas is that time of year when you can be thankful for what you do have. Giving to charity is a wonderful way to allow yourself to take a moment and reflect on other people who are in the same boat as you (or worse) and make donations to the charities who are a lifeline to people in their moment of need. Remember it is not about the amount, but the thought and your donations do not have to be financial, they can be time or task related instead.

5 – Look to next year

As I have already mentioned Christmas is always a reflective time of year. The time of year to think about the year just gone and the new year ahead. Living with chronic illnesses this is maybe more poignant than it is to most others. Going into a new year unfortunately is not going to cure us or in most cases make us any better, yet that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have hope and goals for the future. I was always somebody who would make new years resolutions and beat myself up for not being able to achieve them when really they were always going to be unachievable with my conditions. Instead of making new years resolutions why not highlight your achievements for the year and remind yourself of how amazing you are, and how you can take these skills with you into the new year.

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

So here you have it – my top Christmas activities for chronic illness warriors. Hopefully you find these suggestions helpful, but remember there is no right or wrong. Your Christmas should be spent in your way, so enjoy!

Activities · Christmas · Films

Christmas Films – My Top Picks

Following on from my top Halloween film picks, I couldn’t resist sharing my top films for Christmas. Christmas can be a very difficult time for people with chronic illness due to the various activities, communications and heightened visual and audial disturbances, but watching films can be a great activity to do with others or alone. It is just a case of picking the right one so let’s get started….

Let’s get right to the crunch and dive straight in with proper xmassy films: The Santa Clause and Elf.

The Santa Clause is one of my most favourite Christmas films of all time. Starring Tim Allen the movie is about a father who transforms into Santa. This is a great watch if you enjoy seeing the north pole in all its glory and love the magic of believing. Keep a look out for the various elves in particular Judy who makes the perfect hot cocoa.

Elf starring Will Ferrell is a must see for Christmas fanatics. The movie is centred around the story of Buddy – a human who was raised by elves – who after discovering he is not an actual elf goes on a journey to New York City to find his biological father. This film is filled with festive cheer as Buddy explores this new world with an elf mentality. – Son of a Nutcracker!

Ok so I know not everyone loves a Christmassy film at Christmas so let’s take a look at my top non-Christmassy films that are considered Christmas films – if you catch my drift: Bridget Jones’s Diary and Home Alone.

Bridget Jones’s Diary is a romantic comedy that definitely resonates with me. Starting at a Christmas party with that disastrous Christmas jumper and Bridget trying to combat single life. That soon changes however when she has two men vying for her affection in the form of Daniel Cleaver and Mark Darcy. The movie has some great scenes and funny moments especially in the form of Bridget’s friends alongside a very catchy soundtrack.

Home Alone is the ultimate Christmas comedy about a young boy being left you guessed it – home alone. I think most people probably know the story by now and if you don’t I really recommend you watch it. There are some great performances especially by a young Macaulay Culkin and is definitely a great pick if you want a few laughs over the festive period.

So we have the Christmassy and the not so Christmassy films, but now I want to share some shorter stories for my fellow chronic illness warriors who may find viewing longer films too much on their bodies. I give you Raymond Briggs’s The Snowman and Father Christmas.

The Snowman – This Raymond Briggs’s classic is a visual masterpiece and so beautifully crafted. It is also the story that brought us Walking in the Air and a lot of flying snowmen. For such a short story it sparks the magic and excitement of Christmas as well as a slight tearjerker at the end (I won’t spoil it for you).

Father Christmas – Again this Raymond Briggs’s classic has the same visual beauty, but this time follows Father Christmas on his year from one Christmas eve to the next. This has a funnier element to it then The Snowman, with Father Christmas getting up to all sorts of adventures.

For the eagle-eyed viewers amongst us you may notice that both short stories give cameos to each other with The Snowman featuring in Father Christmas and Father Christmas featuring in The Snowman, so it is a lovely nod to each story. If you want something short that gets you in the festive mood I strongly recommend this picks to make you smile.

Here we have it my top picks for Christmas – of course there are many others, but I wanted to keep it simple. So what will you be watching this year?