Recently the NFMPCA held a Twitter chat for tips to help make your holiday celebrations more comfortable and enjoyable.  Here are some tried-and-true ideas shared by tweeters and the NFMCPA.

What do you do to keep stress and pain at bay during the holiday season?
•    The NFMCPA suggests doing your holiday decorating and shopping over time instead of all at once. This helps prevent stress.
•    By spreading out decorating and shopping, it can also preserve energy so that you may enjoy the holidays without feeling exhausted.
•    To learn more tips on controlling stress and pain during the holidays, visit here: bit.ly http://www.fmcpaware.org/holidays/holly-jolly-pain-free-holidays.html

What do you do to ease the pain of Holiday shopping?
•    Many chronic pain sufferers find relief in doing their holiday shopping online.
•    Pace yourself and have a plan before going to the mall. Take frequent walking breaks, i.e. get a coffee or sit on a bench for 5 min.
•    Make a gift list and divide it into several short trips to the mall instead of an all day shopping spree.
•    If you live in a colder climate, dress warmly and in layers so you don’t get too cold, and can remove clothing if you get too warm.
•    Take along a roller bag (even a small suitcase) so you don’t have to carry presents.
•    Take a warm bath before venturing out and another one when you get home.  Warming up your muscles will help ease spasms.
•    If valet parking is available, take advantage of it.  Walking a long distance to and from your car adds to muscle soreness.

What do you do for fun during the holiday season?
•    The holiday season is a great for spending time with family and friends.
•    Don’t isolate yourself; between Dec  1 & 31, call people you haven’t talked with for awhile, wish them happy holidays & get caught up.
•    Sing Christmas carols or other holiday songs and listen to beautiful music that fills your soul.  
•    Play board games with children, friends & family. Don’t play video games with children, friends & family.
•    Start a new tradition; buy your holiday dinner at your local Safeway & serve it as your own! Do a fun family gift exchange.
•    Have lunch with friends at a special restaurant.
•    Get a massage or go to a spa with friends and enjoy a manicure together.

What helps you stay comfortable at holiday gatherings?
•    One of our Leaders Against Pain, @TamiStack, takes a pillow with her to avoid sitting on a hard seat
•    Another Leader Against Pain, @SabriNumann, avoids the consumption of alcohol as it is a trigger for her pain
•    Stay warm and find a comfortable place to sit.  Don’t stand too long.
•    Take a warm shower or bath before leaving your home. And again when you return.
•    Learn myofascial release or yoga stretches that relieve muscle spasms.  Find a bedroom or use the powder room for stretching.  

If you are unable to attend holiday gatherings, what do you do to celebrate?  
•    Laugh.  Listen to podcasts of your favorite comedians.  Watch videos of I Love Lucy or ?
•    Reminisce with friends and family.  
•    Read your favorite holiday story or find a new one that strikes your spirit.
•    Watch old movies: A Christmas Story, A Wonderful Life, Home Alone; check out the Lifetime and Hallmark TV channels.
•    Host a cookie exchange and let guests bring the cookies & recipes to share.  Furnish coffee, tea, eggnog; use paper plates & cups.

What has changed most for you about the holidays since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia or chronic pain?
•    “The NFMCPA offers resources at www.fmcpaware.org for fibromyalgia and chronic pain sufferers.  “
•    “Change is common among fibromyalgia and chronic pain sufferers. We’d love to hear your story! Submit at http://www.fmcpaware.org/community/inspirational-stories.html
•    Change with chronic illness is unavoidable; but not all changes have to be bad. Adapt to circumstances; be open minded to new ideas.
•    Use mindfulness techniques to stay in the present and don’t concentrate on the past.

If you are traveling this holiday season, what are your best traveling tips for the FM and chronic pain community?
•    The NFMCPA has a list of travel tips to help ease the pain and stress that can come as a result
•    Wear comfortable clothing and shoes, dress in layers so you can stay warm and cool down when necessary.
•    For help with sleep, bring along your favorite pillow, ear plugs and a night mask. You will be more comfortable, helps drown out noise and blocks bright lights.
•    Most hotels stock egg carton mattress pads; ask for one to be delivered to your room.  Along with your own pillow, this can really help you rest better.