Ho Ho Help…It’s the Holidays

and I’ve Got a Tumor!

From Linda M. Rio, MA, MFT – What do you suppose the Hallmark Channel version would be with this title? Probably not filled with pretty snowy scenes and smiley faces. Hollywood can surely make the seasons of Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas appear lovely. The reality for many folks is one closer to a time of stress to get to work, take care of the laundry, help kids with homework, cook daily meals, pay bills plus much more and yet also shop for gifts, attend obligatory parties and gatherings, smile, plan family gatherings, cook large meals for guests, smile, host guests in your home or travel distances to visit those you haven’t seen for a very long time, smile, fit into last year’s holiday clothing…and smile too? Now do all of this (and much more) when you’ve gained massive weight and know your relatives might not even recognize you at one of those holiday gatherings as well as know someone will inevitably tell you about a diet, or a weight loss doctor who can surely help. Do all of this and have pounding headaches and a cloudy brain that just doesn’t seem to work as it should, feel so depressed you’re not sure you can get out of bed let alone make it to a party! Or maybe feel you are “supposed” to do all these things, or be told you are yet you feel so anxious you are not sure you can face the day and certainly not a room with inebriated holiday revelers. And maybe it has been so many years since you were able to properly function at all that you have few if anyone to holiday with at all!

This season also has its blessings in the fundamental beliefs and reasons why the holidays developed. And, of course, for children (and hopefully others) there is the magic that bring such joy to anyone who sees goodness, honesty, and hope in any child’s eyes. This, after all, is why most of us endure so much stress because we are trying to capture or recapture a piece of that innocence of days gone by.

For those who either have symptoms of a pituitary tumor or other endocrine disorder and are in the process of trying to get an accurate diagnosis (this can be a long process), or those who already have been diagnosed know all too well that the “perfect” holiday is not likely. Note: That word “perfect” is used here only because it is so often stated as an expectation that no one can achieve and only leaves disappointment in its wake. So, having a more reality-based expectation might be helpful for everyone, but vital for those with a pituitary disorder.

Stress affects everyone and the right amount of stress is actually a good thing. However, many with pituitary issues find it essential to manage their stress levels far and above what others need to do. So, here are just a few ideas of ways to not deal, not endure, not “get through”, but experience the holidays in your own personal way that is best for you! I also welcome comments by patients who may have many other tips and solutions they’ve found that work for them!

  1. Be sure to let relatives and friends know in advance of any gatherings that you are dealing with some health issues. It is your choice how much to share but often people will be more understanding if they know there is a medical issue.
  2. Know your own limits by paying lots of attention to the signs your body gives you. This includes hunger, thirst, physical comfort (wear comfortable clothing and shoes), and knowing when you are tired and need to rest or go home (or stay home).
  3. If you have children it is especially important not to “promise” things you may not be able to do. It is better to surprise them by doing more than expected than to promise and then not produce.
  4. Let your children/grand-children decorate for you by playing a game with young children of “I’ll be the remote and you’ll be the robot to do what I say”, or “I’ll close my eyes and bet you can’t surprise me with decorations on the tree”. With older kids you can provide incentives like extra tech time (i-pad, gaming etc.) when they help cook, decorate, shop etc.
  5. Plan on “me” time, even if it is just 10-15 minutes a day, or 1 hour a week…whatever you can manage to do “healthy selfishness” things. This can range from resting quietly on the sofa to reading to computer gaming to a bubble bath…whatever is something to look forward to doing. Research has shown that we benefit as much from thinking about a relaxing or fun activity as actually doing it.
  6. Learning to practice “Mindfulness” can be learned by all ages. There are online, YouTube, books, classes, and psychotherapy resources to effectively help manage physical and mental stress. This is particularly helpful for those whose stress response system is particularly sensitive such as those with endocrine disorder.
  7. Personal and/or family therapy can help! Finding a safe person/place that provides proper boundaries within which to discover new ways to deal with stress as well as ways to communicate to those around you can be very positive.
  8. Provide online resources to family, friends to help them understand. Pituitary World News of course!
  9. Finally, remember the holidays will end but your search for ways to find calm, peace, and tranquility should not ever end and will, hopefully, be a pleasant journey with each new discovery of what works for you!
Linda can be reached at www.lindamrio.com
Linda’s book  “The Hormone Factor in Mental Health” is available through Amazon.com and other major booksellers.  Click here for a direct link to the book page on Amazon .  

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