3 tips for enjoying the holidays while living with myasthenia gravis

Planning and compassion can help reduce stress, our nemesis in this season

Mark Harrington avatar

by Mark Harrington |

Share this article:

Share article via email
main banner for Mark Harrington's

Take away any religious connections, and the period from the end of November through the start of January is still the most festive time of the year. Decorating our homes, hosting and attending holiday gatherings, and giving gifts are some activities that make the season enjoyable.

But they can also make this time of year stressful. With myasthenia gravis (MG), that stress can be more severe, and that, in turn, can exacerbate MG, forming a vicious cycle. Lowering stress, however, can improve our ability to enjoy the holidays.

I’d like to share three ways to accomplish this goal.

Recommended Reading
banner image for

How to Cope With Stress When You Have Myasthenia Gravis

First, planning is important to any attempts at stress reduction. To get adequate rest, you may find you need to decline some invitations. If, like me, you enjoy a good party, these refusals can be difficult. Remind yourself that quality is better than quantity. You may attend fewer events, but those you attend will be more enjoyable for you and your hosts.

Second, careful travel plans can be especially helpful to people with MG. It’s possible to arrive at your destination rested and ready to celebrate. If driving is part of your travel plans, rest stops may be necessary. If your journey takes you into the skies, give thought to departure and arrival times. Direct flights can make air travel less stressful since they eliminate gate and terminal changes.

Be compassionate

My third recommendation is often the most difficult to accomplish: Be compassionate. Remember that our lives changed with our MG diagnosis. The holiday season can bring up painful memories of times when we could do much more than MG allows. We may feel set apart from others.

Pope Francis said it so well when he wrote in “Take Care of Him,” an encyclical for the 31st World Day of the Sick, that “Illness is part of our human condition. Yet, if illness is experienced in isolation and abandonment, unaccompanied by care and compassion, it can become inhumane.”

My dad would’ve said it this way: “Go easy on yourself.” Don’t try to do the impossible. Cut yourself some slack and take enjoyment from what you can do. Accept that MG has changed things. Don’t let it determine whether your days are enjoyable.

Dad knew what he was talking about. He lived with MG for the last 15 of his 86 years.

Don’t forget to show compassion to others. Friends and family are often heavily affected by MG’s challenges. Still, these people show up for us in so many ways. They may help with transportation, cooking, mowing the lawn, and many other essential tasks.

Let them know you appreciate this support. And if, like me, there are times when you feel your frustration and anger rising to the surface, try your best to control it. Compassion is a two-way street.

I offer these suggestions with the hope that they’ll help you more fully enjoy the holiday season. MG forced me to recognize my weaknesses and vulnerability, which I now see has benefits. I’ve learned to fill my day with more compassion and tenderness toward myself and others. It sure makes things easier.

Note: Myasthenia Gravis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Myasthenia Gravis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to myasthenia gravis.


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.