Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
About MyEpilepsyTeam

How to Enjoy the Holidays Despite Epilepsy

Posted on October 24, 2019

Living with epilepsy may change your holidays, but you can still have enjoyable and meaningful celebrations. Although epilepsy may make some holiday traditions challenging, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy connecting with friends and family during the holiday season. By communicating your limitations due to epilepsy, being flexible, and adjusting your expectations, you can help make sure the holidays are happy and memorable.

Communicate Your Needs
Let your loved ones know that connecting with them over the holidays is as important as ever to you, but epilepsy is making it hard to plan as usual when seizures make traveling more challenging and mood changes from medications make spending time in large groups more taxing. You need to put your health first or risk elevating stress levels, which can trigger a seizure.

  • Don't be afraid to say no.
  • It can help to use direct "I" statements. For instance, "I am not feeling well enough to host this year" is better than "Having everyone over is just too stressful." Communicating in this way makes your needs clear without making others feel accused or burdensome.
  • Even if you usually maintain healthy boundaries, the holidays are a time when they may be tested. If a friend or family member tries to make you feel guilty for setting your boundaries, gently remind them that epilepsy doesn't take the holidays off, as much as you wish it did.

Be Flexible
Instead of saying "no," say "yes" to something else. If a family tradition no longer works for you because of epilepsy, it may be time to suggest an update.

  • If you can't travel as usual, consider offering to host. Ask others to bring potluck dishes and help clean up so you don't wind up overdoing it.
  • If you usually host the gathering but can't do it this year, encourage someone else to host instead. They may be delighted to welcome everyone to their home for a change.
  • If you always bring a beloved dish, pass the treasured recipe on to a loved one like you would a family heirloom, or shine the limelight on another chef in the family and invite them to bring their favorite dish.
  • If you can't bring yourself to give up the party, think of ways to save time and energy. Use paper plates, plastic flatware, and disposable tablecloths for easy cleanup. Make decorating (or de-decorating) part of the event and get everyone to help. Plan a low-impact meal such as a stew that simmers all day in the crock pot with little prep work or tending.
  • If flashing lights are a seizure trigger for you, ask relatives to turn off decorative holiday lighting before you arrive.

If it's just not possible to get together in one place this year, consider using a video chat service such as Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime to have a special holiday call on a smartphone or laptop. During a video chat, you can:

  • Watch family open gifts
  • Have them show you the decorations around the house
  • Read a holiday story or poem to the children
  • Sing favorite holiday songs together

Adjust Your Expectations
Even without a chronic illness like epilepsy, holidays often come with high expectations that lead to disappointment and stress. Letting go of the illusion of a "perfect" holiday can help you keep expectations realistic and focus on what's most important about the holidays. For many people, that means connecting with loved ones, being thankful for what you have, and finding hope for the new year.

Here are some mindful tips from Johns Hopkins Medicine for adjusting holiday expectations:

  • Accept that your holidays won't be perfect and will be different from celebrations in years past.
  • Focus on what really counts. Find things to be grateful for and look for new ways to connect with loved ones.
  • If you get into a conflict with someone over the holidays, take a few breaths before you react. Try to stay compassionate and react with kindness.
  • As you reflect on last year, be kind to yourself and let go of any negativity. As you look forward to next year, make smaller, gradual resolutions rather than huge goals that will be difficult to achieve.

During the holidays and year-round, the members of MyEpilepsyTeam are here for each other. Joining MyEpilepsyTeam means gaining a support group of thousands of others with epilepsy who understand exactly what you're going through.

Here are some conversations from MyEpilepsyTeam members about navigating the holiday season while facing seizures:

Have you found ways to celebrate the holidays despite epilepsy?
Share in the comments below or post on MyEpilepsyTeam.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

Related articles

Epilepsy is a neurological condition of the nervous system marked by repeated seizures. A seizure...

Seizures and Epilepsy in Children: A Parent’s Guide

Epilepsy is a neurological condition of the nervous system marked by repeated seizures. A seizure...
Nearly 40 percent of people with epilepsy experience at least one urinary symptom, researchers...

Managing Urinary Incontinence and Seizures

Nearly 40 percent of people with epilepsy experience at least one urinary symptom, researchers...
Whether you are newly diagnosed with epilepsy or have been living with epilepsy for some time,...

Hiding Epilepsy vs. Disclosing: How and When Do You Tell Others?

Whether you are newly diagnosed with epilepsy or have been living with epilepsy for some time,...
Many people worry about their ability to continue driving after receiving an epilepsy diagnosis....

Driving and Epilepsy

Many people worry about their ability to continue driving after receiving an epilepsy diagnosis....
People with epilepsy may be eligible for additional doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19...

Are People With Epilepsy Eligible for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson Booster Shots?

People with epilepsy may be eligible for additional doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19...
If you’re living with epilepsy, you’re already aware of the impact the condition can have on your...

Epilepsy Awareness: How To Get Involved

If you’re living with epilepsy, you’re already aware of the impact the condition can have on your...

Recent articles

If you or a loved one has epilepsy, knowing seizure first aid can help prevent complications and...

You to the Rescue! Giving Rescue Medicine for Seizure First Aid

If you or a loved one has epilepsy, knowing seizure first aid can help prevent complications and...
Life with epilepsy can present a variety of challenges, but people diagnosed with epilepsy can...

Living With Epilepsy: Your Guide

Life with epilepsy can present a variety of challenges, but people diagnosed with epilepsy can...
Generalized seizures are a type of epilepsy that affects up to 40 percent of people with...

What Are Generalized Seizures?

Generalized seizures are a type of epilepsy that affects up to 40 percent of people with...
Metabolism is the chemical reaction in the body’s cells that changes food into energy. It’s a...

What Are Metabolic Disorders, and How Can They Cause Epilepsy?

Metabolism is the chemical reaction in the body’s cells that changes food into energy. It’s a...
Abdominal epilepsy is a very rare type of temporal lobe epilepsy. This form of epilepsy is most...

What You May Not Know About Abdominal Epilepsy

Abdominal epilepsy is a very rare type of temporal lobe epilepsy. This form of epilepsy is most...
Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which bones lose density, becoming weak and brittle. This...

Bone Density and Epilepsy: Are Antiepileptic Drugs a Risk for Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which bones lose density, becoming weak and brittle. This...
MyEpilepsyTeam My epilepsy Team

Thank you for subscribing!

Become a member to get even more:

sign up for free

close