How to Survive the Holidays When You’re Ill

How to Survive the Holidays When You’re IllWhether you’re chronically ill or coping with a cold or flu, the holidays can be hard when you’re sick. Holiday parties, family get-togethers, decorating, shopping, and all the other chores the holiday season brings are hard enough when you’re in perfect health. When you’re not in top form physically, you’ll need to take extra-good care of yourself and may need to re-assess your holiday priorities.

Give yourself time to rest when you need it. Don’t push yourself to shop, cook, or perform other holiday-related tasks when you’re not feeling up to it physically or emotionally. By taking it easy during the holidays, you can still find ways to enjoy this festive time of year while honoring your physical limitations and keeping the rest of your family healthy.

1. Eat Well and Take Your Medications on Time

Eating a healthy diet can help boost your immunity if you’re fighting a cold or flu, and can help protect your energy levels and general well-being if you’re struggling with a more chronic condition. If you’re not feeling well at the holidays, it’s a good idea to avoid any alcoholic drinks, since they can compromise immunity and make you dehydrated. Instead, try plenty of water and non-alcoholic drinks like hot cider and herbal tea.

Fruits and vegetables are a good substitute for rich holiday treats, since they give your body the nutrients it needs to fight off infection and stay strong. Almonds, spinach, nuts, and fatty fish like trout or salmon contain magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for promoting general well-being and can help you recover faster from a cold or flu.

Don’t allow holiday stress to overwhelm you so much that you forget to take any prescription medications as directed. Save yourself a trip to the pharmacy and fill your prescriptions online at

Take It Slow

Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean you have to push yourself to do more than you’re capable of. If you’re feverish and contagious, staying home will give you a chance to rest and help protect friends and family members from getting sick, too. Overexerting yourself will keep you sick longer, and if you’re chronically ill, you may need to strike a balance that allows you to celebrate without exacerbating your symptoms too much.

Decide how much work and socializing you’re capable of, and make a plan to help you stick to it. If that means asking someone else to do the bulk of the cooking or having a nap after Christmas dinner, then so be it. If it helps, ask a loved one to remind you to take a break.

Lower Your Expectations

Lower Your ExpectationsIt’s normal to feel pressure to create a perfect holiday celebration, but there’s no right way to do the Christmas season. Stress can compromise your immunity and make it harder to recover from illness, so if you get sick in the middle of holiday preparations, you should decide which chores and tasks are absolutely necessary and which ones you can go ahead and nix this year.

If you’re too sick to shop at the mall, order your gifts online or purchase gift cards for your friends and loved ones. If you don’t have the energy to get out of bed and bake pies from scratch, buy frozen pies at the store. Remember that you’re probably holding yourself to a much higher standard than anyone else would. It’s unlikely that your friends or loved ones will be upset if you need to cut corners in order to meet your holiday-related obligations.

Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

The holidays are a time of family togetherness, and what better way to bring your family together than to enlist their help with holiday preparations. If you’re the type who feels the need to personally take charge of things, rest assured that others in the house can decorate, cook, shop, and clean just as well as you can, or close enough.

Practice Mindfulness

If you’re chronically ill, practicing mindfulness can help you learn to accept your physical limitations and enjoy the present moment. Even if your illness is more acute, mindfulness can help you remain aware of your physical state at any given moment so you’ll be able to tell when it’s time to rest.

By staying in tune with what’s happening in the here and now, you can accept the limitations of illness without succumbing to guilt or shame, and you can begin to let go of any resentment you may feel about being sick at the holidays. Mindfulness meditation can even help you feel less stressed and boost your immunity, to help you recover more quickly from infections.

It’s not easy being sick at the holidays, when the pressure is high to be merry and festive. As long as you take it easy and respect your body’s wishes, you can not only survive the holiday season, but actually enjoy it in spite of your illness.