It’s that time of year again.
Time to gather and celebrate with your family and friends.
Time to be thankful and merry and deck the halls.
You want to be looking forward to it. Really you do. But instead you’re likely dreading it – and all the pressure you’re already putting on yourself to meet everyone’s expectations, including your own, despite the fact that you’re in a lot of pain.
And on top of that one more holiday season with pelvic pain symptoms is just one more reminder of how long it’s been since you’ve felt good.
If you’re like many of the women I work with who are suffering with pelvic pain, these are just a couple additional challenges you’re facing at this time of year.
Pelvic Pain isn’t like other chronic pain.
It’s not something you want most people to know about. Which can make it isolating…. especially when you’re around people who don’t know, and couldn’t possibly understand, what you’re going through.
All of this creates additional questions and challenges for women suffering with pelvic pain, like….
- How do I enjoy social situations when I don’t want to answer simple questions like “How are you?” and “What have you been doing?”…What will I say? What else is there to talk about? All I think about is Pelvic pain.
- How do I get through dinners, social gatherings and travel when it hurts to sit and I have so much anxiety about the pain starting?
- How can I contribute or do what needs to be done when I can’t walk for 10 minutes without a flare up?
- What do I tell well meaning friends and relatives who know about my symptoms and ask how I’m doing? I don’t want to focus on my symptoms. And anyway, they just can’t understand how I could still be in pain.
- What the heck will I wear?!?!?!
Maybe you can relate to some of these?
If so, you’re in the right place!
So, before you run for the covers and hide, or push yourself and your body way past the limits of what is right for you….. I want you to take a deep breath and consider that it may be possible to get through this holiday season in a way that supports you and your healing rather than making everything worse!
5 Tips to Get Through the Holidays with more Love, Peace, and Joy …when you’re suffering with pelvic pain.
1. Accept that you are where you are – for now.
Of course you want to relieve your pain, be able to take long car trips, wear anything you want, sit as long as you want, and have the energy and desire to do everything you want to do, but struggling and pushing against where you are now not only won’t help relieve pain, it will create more.
I know it’s hard to accept where you are when you don’t want to be where you are, but I promise you it’s the first step to getting somewhere else. It is absolutely true that “What we resist persists.”
One really effective way to accept where you are, pelvic pain symptoms and all, is to start telling yourself that it’s just “For Now.” It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in pain, you’re not going to be in pain forever. And, if you’re already exploring a mind body approach, you are on your way to healing and relief!
Accept your symptoms and yourself where you are right now – for now – and you’ll not only be much closer to lasting relief, you’ll feel instantly more relaxed and present with what’s good in your life now.
2. Put yourself and your body first.
Remember….You can say, “No.” You don’t have to do everything – or anything that doesn’t feel good to you. You do not have to suffer through parties or gatherings or trips that increase your pain and pretend to enjoy it! You don’t have to prepare the perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas or Hanukkah or New Year experience for yourself or anyone else.
If you want to relieve your pain you have to give yourself permission to listen to your body and put your needs first. Period.
And that may mean saying No.
I know that can be uncomfortable. It’s not easy to take a stand for yourself when you’re used to taking care of everyone else, but it’s the only way you’re going to heal.
What do you want to do? What is your body telling you it needs? How much rest and how much doing? Do you really want to drive 3 hours to your in-laws or do you want to stay home? And if you want to go, how can you do it in a way that honors your body and what it needs right now?
3. Set clear boundaries
Having clear boundaries means having a sense of yourself as separate from other people and knowing that you can only be responsible for your own thoughts, actions and emotions – not anyone else’s. As such, it is your choice what you decide to share with friends or family about how you’re doing, and it’s best to make that decision based on what feels good to you. You’re under no obligation to reveal more – or less – than you want to.
I recommend to all my clients that they spend time thinking about how they want to respond and what they want to share or talk about before going into social situations, and that they open up their own minds about possible responses. So for instance, if you would rather not talk about your symptoms (or if you’re practicing a mind body approach and consciously not focusing on your symptoms) when people ask, “How are you?” think about ways you can answer that have nothing to do with your symptoms and don’t leave you feeling dishonest or inadequate about how you’ve been spending your time. Aside from your symptoms, how are you? What else is going on in your life? Have you read any good books? Are you excited about learning a mind body approach or anything else? How have you been feeling emotionally? Any of these could be good options that don’t center on your symptoms.
Remember, boundaries. You are not obligated to share any more or less than you want to share, and you always have the option to say you don’t want to talk about something. And, of course, if all else fails, change the subject!
4. Wrangle Your Lizard
If you haven’t met your lizard yet, you’ll want to read my blog post on How to Think Positively When You’re In Pain. It will definitely come in handy at this time of year!
If you notice you’re stuck in thoughts that are self-critical, catastrophic, or obsessive, or if you find yourself comparing and despairing or otherwise making negative predictions……STOP, Breathe, come back to your body and lead your lizard.
5. Allow Your Emotions
The truth is that underlying most of the stress around the holidays (and everything else) is unfelt emotion. What you need more than anything is time and space to allow your emotions to flow.
Whatever else you decide to do this year, make sure to fit in lots of downtime – not only to nurture your body and give it what it needs to heal, but also to be with yourself and your emotions.
What it boils down to is that the way to get through the holidays with pelvic pain (or any chronic pain) is to be kind to yourself.
Lower your expectations – just for now. Your body will heal. For now, do your best to accept yourself where you are. When it comes to what you’ll do and what you’ll say get clear about what feels best to you. Make yourself a priority by listening to your body and of course give yourself the space you need to feel your emotions.
Implement these tips and you just may find that you not only get through the holidays this year, but you actually enjoy them …even with pelvic pain.