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Doing Christmas differently with a long-term health condition

The festive season is well and truly upon us, and even if you don’t celebrate Christmas (I didn’t until I got married!) there can be pressure to make the most of the frosty days, twinkly lights, boozy dinners and all the joy the season has to offer.  

But how can you navigate the challenges and added expectations that pop up around Christmas when you live with a long-term health condition?  

Read on to explore some ways to think about doing Christmas in a way that works for you, and maximises fun, joy and cosiness! 

Use your toolbox 

I’m betting that you already have an amazing toolbox of skills and adjustments that you use to manage your day-to-day life. 

These will be extra important to remember and implement during the busier festive season.  

Focus on pacing, planning and prioritising your activities and rest time. Take all that you’ve learned, and all those experiments you’ve done, and think about how you can apply them to make the most of your Christmas activities. 

Understand yourself  

Being realistic about your own health and access needs will enable you to make informed decisions about how you spend your time and get the most joy “bang” for your energy “buck”. 

Think about the tangibles and how they can be applied to anything you want to do over the festive season: 

  • How many hours do you have in your energy envelope on an average day? 

  • What activities do you already do and how can these be adapted? 

  • What kinds of activities are reasonable and ‘safe’ for you to do?  

  • How much preparation and recovery time would you need to schedule in?  

  • How much time are you able to spend sitting up vs lying down? 

  • How often do you need rest breaks?  

  • Will you be able to participate much more in the day if you stay at home vs having to travel?  

  • Are there certain foods that you can’t eat? 

  • Can you tolerate loud noises and a lot of lights?  

  • Would you benefit from using a mobility aid? 


 There can be a lot of pressure to “do” Christmas right and celebrate in a certain way. But nothing is set in stone.  

Be creative and prioritise the things that really matter to you.  

Instead of meeting friends to go to a Christmas market, could they come to your house for some hot chocolate in your pyjamas? Instead of decorating a whole tree, can you light a candle and direct someone else do to it whilst you’re on the sofa? Instead of going to a Christmas pub quiz, can you do one online with pals? Instead of cooking Christmas dinner, can you do a family potluck where everyone brings a dish?  


Share any concerns you have with your loved ones early on. Explain that you love them and want to still be involved, whilst being honest about the challenges you face and discuss potential adjustments to traditions.  

By having these conversations, you pave the way for understanding and support - as well as strengthening your connection and alleviating stress on the day.  

Have fun!

Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to navigating anything with chronic illness!  

Embrace the uniqueness of your experience and prioritise the things that bring you joy and fulfilment.  

By doing things differently, you can create a Christmas that aligns with your needs, whilst unlocking new opportunities for creativity, joy and connection.  

After all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about? 

AccessAble Ambassador