Beating Holiday Stress

I've lived with migraines for 61 years. As many of you know, the longer you have migraines, the more frequently you have them. I started having daily migraines in the 1990s and my anger at God started. Why did I have to live in constant pain? Like many other migraineurs, I have multiple ailments, so I'm in pain constantly.

Angry because of migraine

As the migraines increased so did my anger... at everything! Angry that friends and family didn't understand. That my job expected a thousand percent from me in spite of knowing the amount of pain I lived in every day. Angry the doctors could not find a way to help me. Angry that I saw my life slipping away from me, having to spend time hidden in the dark instead of being out in the world playing music, hanging with friends, enjoying the active life that I had once lived. And my anger grew and grew.

Holiday stress just made it that much worse. Cleaning the house before guests came over used up 100% of my back energy. Them wearing perfumes (as people often do during the holidays), set off my migraines. It just seemed that there was no escaping my pain, unless I avoided humans.

Learning to embrace migraine

After losing my job in 2015 because of the migraines becoming more intense after these super strong detergents were developed, I started living in isolation. Then in 2018 I found and read one of Holly Harding's articles about how she embraced her migraine as a friend. How she recognized that migraines improved her life because it made her start living a healthier lifestyle. I thought she was crazy, but I started contemplating what she had written. I asked others who suffered from fibromyalgia and migraines what they thought about her article too, taking in their viewpoint also. As I contemplated, I turned to the Bible and thought about Job's situation, and I realized all that God wanted from us was gratitude for the life he had given us.

So I started trying to live a life of gratitude and thankfulness, trying hard to find a way to be thankful for my pain. But how does one do that? I found that little bitty everyday things could bring me joy if I recognized them as gifts, so I started looking for Joy Shots. I developed what I called "mindful appreciation" and found a way to find joy in just about anything if I would truly focus on that moment, person, or item.

Managing holiday stress and migraine

So this holiday season I would like to encourage y'all not to let the stress of the holidays strip you of the joy that is there in tiny little moments. A Joy Shot can be anything: watching a kid unwrap presents, decorations on the tree, the smell of hot apple cider, the taste of pecan pie, the softness of a cat's fur, or even just the crisp air and darkness of a winter night sky. Anything that makes you smile, anything that makes you laugh, or anything that makes you contemplate how blessed we are... is a Joy Shot! But it is very important to register and acknowledge the Joy Shots as they happen. If not, then they will slip right on by us without us ever recognizing they were there. Our pain will obliterate all the joy that we had experienced during our celebration.

So let's not let that happen this year. Let's find the joy! Happy holidays y'all!

Snow covered evergreen

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