Sarah Alexander's top Christmas tips

Preparing for the festivities

Lifestyle blogger Sarah Alexander often writes on her experience of having multiple chronic conditions, including Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. In this article, Sarah advises on how she prepares for the holiday season, making sure she listens to her body and doesn’t overdo it. 

This time of year is hectic; I don’t know whether I’m excited or dreading it because having a chronic condition when there is so much to do is not only exhausting, it’s agonising. One thing I can guarantee over the next month is I will be in pain because that is constant but I have no idea as to what the level of pain will be. I am always worried that I will end up spending Christmas Day in bed unable to take part as much as I’d like or miss out completely. And some years I have. Some years I’ve been too poorly to leave my bed, let alone visit family. I’m often concerned family members think I’m Scrooge and don’t want to be involved but I would give anything to be there.

Luckily, my family are incredibly supportive and understand that my health is unreliable…and that’s just it, my health is unreliable, not me. I have no control over my flare-ups and as much as I try to be proactive and prevent them, sometimes they just rear their ugly head and consume me. I can’t help that. I want to be there and be as immersed in the festivities as possible. Unfortunately that isn’t always the case and that is okay. Nobody can be on top form all the time, and if you’re disabled and/or chronically ill, you certainly can’t.

I have the added bonus that my family and my partners’ family understand that I can’t rustle up a full turkey roast dinner, I can barely make toast so they always take control over the food, and each year we alternate who we spend Christmas with; this year it’s my parents. I know not everyone has this convenience and a lot of people run themselves into the ground trying to get everything done and make everyone happy but if you can, ask for help!

Spending Christmas with my parents is so little hassle for me and I’m comfortable enough being back home that I don’t even bother getting dressed. I usually nap during the afternoon and am good for a few hours after that.


If you’re worried that Christmas will set your health back, here are a few tips to help you through:

Pay attention to your body

This is really important, don’t push yourself too hard. If you’re struggling and can put off peeling the potatoes for an hour because your hands are sore, do so. Sit down, take breaks, have a brew.

Ask for help

There’s always a family member or friend that will pitch in and take the load off.

Don’t give yourself a hard time

The world isn’t going to end if you forget to cook the sprouts or you haven’t finished wrapping presents. Quiet time is important, try not to feel guilty, you’re doing your best.

Wear comfortable clothes

There’s nothing worse than being busy and uncomfortable, put your slippers back on and relax.

Go home early

If you’re visiting people and are struggling, go home earlier than planned. Christmas is a busy day for everyone and nobody should be offended, especially if you explain that you’re having difficulties.

Stay hydrated and take your medication

Most of all, enjoy it. Try to do as much as you can in advance and take advantage of any free gift wrapping services a lot of places offer as they’re a lifesaver for the hands.

Whatever you do, however you celebrate, have a good one and see you in 2020!

Read more from Sarah at

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