On the other hand...

This time of year (fall and the holidays) often seems to coincide with an uptick in the flares and pain and swelling of my hands. It does not take a lot of reflecting to see why this happens.

As the summer comes to a close, I find myself finishing up the yard for the season, taking down summer decorations and closing up our screened in porch. That alone usually results in some uncomfortable days or even weeks.

Add to that the demands that start in November as we prepare for the upcoming holidays and, of course, the celebrations themselves. If it were only a day it would likely be at least bearable.  But, there are so many tasks associated with this time of year it is very difficult to find a way to handle all of it – from added grocery shopping to extra cooking chores not only for meals but baking as well. Then you have the house decorations and gift shopping and wrapping and add to that any travel that might be involved OR hosting of family and friends! PHEW! My hands hurt already.

So how do we deal with all of this without finding ourselves with nearly immobile, painful, swollen hands by the first of the year?  This is such a challenge and many, if not most, years I fail miserably at this.  I tend to go at a pace that I know full well will have poor outcomes but it is so challenging to not give in to the urges to keep going and keep doing.

But here is what I do know. If I succumb to this tendency to overuse and abuse my hands I will regret it. I cannot say that often enough. I suggest we all put that on a sticky note and place it everywhere we can in our homes so it would trigger us to slow down – the fridge, the gift and decoration closet, etc. Anywhere and everywhere should be our mantra.

So, are there practical ways to ease the outcome of this time year short of just not doing these tasks that are a part of our traditions and the joy of the holidays? Yes there are.

One is planning. By that I mean really, really planning ahead using your calendar to spread out tasks and not do too much in any one day. I start working on the holidays in early November, getting things done in advance as much as possible. That really does make a huge difference. Sticking, as much as possible, to the plan of tasks is crucial.

Another strategy is to ASK FOR HELP. I repeat, ASK FOR HELP. I am horrible and this but I am getting better and better. I have actually told my family and friends to DEMAND that I accept their help.  As silly as that sounds, it is often what I need to actually take them up on their offer of assistance.  On the days when unexpected demands come up or there are just too many things to get done, I happily embrace help more and more often these days.

Take a good look at what you are doing and start the process of prioritizing, letting go of tasks or chores that really are not crucial to the success of your holiday fun! For instance, I stopped doing fresh greens in my flower boxes a few years back and my life is so much easier, my hands so much more comfortable. Best of all? I don’t think anyone but I noticed, much less cared.

Finally, my advice? Resolve to use your hands a little less and open your heart and mind a little more too simply enjoying the time with family and friends and you may get through this holiday with hands that thank you!

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