Managing Arthritis Over The Festive Season

by | Dec 1, 2022 | Blog

Christmas is a joyous time and should be filled with celebration, however sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to “do more” during this period. For people living with arthritis, this “extra business” can cause flare-ups and extra pain. Here are some tips on managing your arthritis during the festive season.


  • I know when it comes to travelling; it is very tempting to pack more than what is needed “just in case.” Don’t fall into this trap; carrying unnecessarily heavy bags can put extra strain on your joints. Make a list of what you need and stick to it.
  • Ask for help with your luggage and make use of the airport trolleys.
  • Make use of a backpack for your carry-on luggage. It’s much kinder to your body than an over-the-shoulder bag. You can even wear a backpack on your front, so you can easily access what you need to.
  • Bring a pillow for comfort. This is for car and plane trips.
  • If travelling by car, plan to take regular rest breaks to allow you to stretch.


  • Use a walker, cane or wheelchair if needed and take breaks to just sit and rest during your shopping trip.
  • Make use of the elevator/escalator instead of the stairs to conserve your energy
  • A trolley really helps to off-load your joints (even if it is only a few small items). You can also take someone with you to help with the carrying.
  • Plan your shopping ahead of time and pace yourself as much as possible. You can plan to spread your shopping over a few weeks / days leading up to Christmas


  • There are a variety of beautiful gift bags and boxes you can make use of instead of traditional wrapping paper. Your hands will thank you.
  • If you prefer the traditional wrapping paper, make use of arthritis friendly scissors and wrap small batches of presents at a time. Avoid trying to get it all done in one day.
  • Get help. Most shopping centres have gift wrapping services during the holiday period, usually in aid of a charity. It only costs you a small donation and the proceeds go to a good cause. Friends and family are also often willing to help.
  • You can order gift cards online and/or print out your messages, to save your hands from all the writing. Electronic-cards (e-cards) are also a great alternative and are becoming more popular


  • Don’t do it all yourself. Most people want to contribute something towards an event they are attending, so why not ask them to bring a particular part of the meal (e.g. a salad or a dessert)?
  • Plan your menu in such a way that there are things you can prepare ahead of time. Avoid doing everything on the day. You want to have the energy to enjoy your guests.
  • You can prepare cooking “stations” for yourself, so when you are cooking you have everything you need at the station, so you are not walking around as much.
  • Ask family and friends to help with preparation and cleaning up afterwards. If you can afford it, you can hire a helper for the day.
  • Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and make use of assistive devices / splints if you need to. Make use of electric can openers, mixers and food processors. Pre-chopped items are also readily available at most stores.
  • Make sure you have somewhere to sit during the party, so you can have little rest breaks. Don’t wait before you are already exhausted before you take a load off.
  • Make sure you follow the precautions of your medication. E.g. will you be allowed to drink? If your medication supresses your immune system, it’s a good idea to avoid hand-shakes and hugging. (in a world following COVID-19, people are far more accepting of avoidance of bodily contact)


  • It is very easy to get wrapped up in all the excitement of the festive season and forget to take care of yourself.
  • Your arthritis doesn’t go away during the festive season. Be respectful of your pain and listen to your body. Don’t forget to make use of your pain management strategies when needed. Rest if you need to and try using a hot pack to ease sore joints.
  • The festive season can sometimes cause stress and anxiety. Stress can trigger flare-ups of arthritis, so try making use of some breathing and relaxation techniques; take a long bath, read a book, try some meditation, whatever helps you to relax.
  • Remember you do not have to attend every event you are invited to, especially if you are struggling to keep up. It’s okay to decline invitations if your schedule is looking too hectic or you feel you are not able to cope. It’s important to have some “you-time” during the season too.

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