10 tips to help you cope with Christmas 

A cup of hot water and lemon, surrounded by a scarf, thermometer, painkillers and tissues.

Although Christmas is a time for celebration we can sometimes try to do too much and feel under a lot of pressure. It can be particularly challenging if you have arthritis. The change in social calendars, diet and weather can make your condition less predictable and force you to cancel plans or avoid social occasions all together. We’ve put together 10 tips to help you cope with the season and enjoy your Christmas.

1. Coping with the physical changes

We know that you can experience changes to your physical appearance, either as a result of your treatment or the condition itself, which can knock your self-confidence and cause you to withdraw from social occasions. You may find that you’re no longer able to dress the same or wear certain shoes. These changes can make you feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself, but there are ways to dress with your arthritis and still be stylish. Many high street shops now offer free personal shopping who provide helpful advice and suggest styles that will suit you. 

2. Plan by setting realistic and achievable goals for yourself 

Having activities in your diary can give you something to look forward to. It can also help you pace yourself, especially if your arthritis causes fatigue.  It’s good to set aside time to do things you enjoy but also find time to rest. If you’re in a lot of pain and can’t get out easily, you could ask friends and family to come to you instead. 

3. Start a new hobby

Hobbies can be a great way of meeting new people and learning a new skill.  Versus Arthritis offers local support groups across the UK, where people living with arthritis can socialise and enjoy activities such as tai chi and yoga. Local gyms and sports centres often run group classes. Signing up to a group or class can give you an incentive to go out and keep active. If you’re not sure which exercises to try, our helpline advisors can advise you on the best exercises for you. 

4. Reach out to friends or family members 

Coming to terms with the idea that your arthritis has stopped you from doing the things you love and making, can make feelings of isolation much worse. Asking a friend or family member for help or support can make a huge difference. If you’re finding it difficult opening to people close to you, you may find it helpful to contact our helpline. The advisors can talk things through in confidence and discuss ways of coping with the pain

5. Get online

Versus Arthritis offers an online community which connects people across the UK who share the same experiences of arthritis. The online community allows people to share and learn about the challenges and successes others have experienced. You can also connect with our communities on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

6. Learning about your condition and how it impacts you 

After being diagnosed with arthritis, you may find it difficult to talk about what’s happening to you and how you feel. Understanding how your condition is affecting your body and emotions can help you to prepare for the tougher moments and be kinder to yourself. Our helpline team can bring all the information and advice about arthritis into one place – helping you to manage your condition in the best way. 

7. Pace yourself

Don’t do too much beforehand, as you may exhaust yourself and cause a flare-up. If you’re cooking, do it in short bursts and freeze what you can. You might want to buy desserts rather than making things from scratch. 

Plan some rest periods for Christmas Day – and let people know in advance.

8. Get the products that can help around the house

Whether it’s kitchen equipment, aids to help you get dressed or make-up that’s easy to use – every bit of help can make the season less stressful. Find out what’s available for you and your home.

9. Stay positive 

Try to focus on the things you can do and not the things you can’t. Christmas is the perfect time to reflect and celebrate everything you have. 

10. Ask for help

If you’re spending Christmas alone, or need to talk to someone other than friends and family, there are several free helplines you can call. These include our helpline on 0800 5200 520 and the following, to mention a few:

  • Samaritans – open 24 hours, 116 123  
  • Age UK – 8am-7pm, 0800 055 6112  
  • Silverline – open 24 hours, 0800 470 80 90. 

We don’t anyone to feel alone this Christmas or struggle with the pressure and expectations. If you have more tips that can help people with arthritis this Christmas, why not share them on our Twitter and Facebook channels.