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.

A MyEpilepsyTeam Member said:

I am glad iam not the only one thinking like this

posted 3 days ago

hug (1)

Recent articles

Article written by Kelly Crumrin On Friday, December 11, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration...

Epilepsy and the COVID-19 Vaccine: What We Know

Article written by Kelly Crumrin On Friday, December 11, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration...
Article written by Nyaka Mwanza The Seizure Safe Schools initiative aims to ensure students with...

How Seizure Safe Schools Legislation Supports Students

Article written by Nyaka Mwanza The Seizure Safe Schools initiative aims to ensure students with...
Article written by Sarah Winfrey An epileptic trigger is anything that brings on a seizure. The...

Epilepsy and Stress-Related Seizures

Article written by Sarah Winfrey An epileptic trigger is anything that brings on a seizure. The...
Article written by Sarah Winfrey Epilepsy is defined as a spectrum of disorders that involve the...

Alcohol and Epilepsy: A Potential Seizure Trigger

Article written by Sarah Winfrey Epilepsy is defined as a spectrum of disorders that involve the...
Article written by Max Mugambi Epilepsy is a spectrum of disorders that involve the central...

Should You Have An Epilepsy Bracelet?

Article written by Max Mugambi Epilepsy is a spectrum of disorders that involve the central...
Article written by Nyaka MwanzaTuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a rare genetic disorder that...

Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC): Your Guide

Article written by Nyaka MwanzaTuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a rare genetic disorder that...
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one-third of people...

Is VNS Therapy® Right for You? Talking to Your Doctor About Vagus Nerve Stimulation

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one-third of people...
Article written by Heather Lapidus Glassner Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) Therapy does not...

Top 5 Myths and Facts About VNS Therapy® for Epilepsy

Article written by Heather Lapidus Glassner Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) Therapy does not...
Article written by Mary K. Talbot In 2017, the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE)...

Why Did Terms for Seizures Change?

Article written by Mary K. Talbot In 2017, the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE)...
Article written by Jessica Wolpert About 50 million people have epilepsy worldwide, but for...

Types of Focal Seizures

Article written by Jessica Wolpert About 50 million people have epilepsy worldwide, but for...
MyEpilepsyTeam My epilepsy Team

Two Ways to Get Started with MyEpilepsyTeam

Become a Member

Connect with others who are living with epilepsy. Get members only access to emotional support, advice, treatment insights, and more.

sign up

Become a Subscriber

Get the latest articles about epilepsy sent to your inbox.

Not now, thanks

Privacy policy
MyEpilepsyTeam My epilepsy Team

Thank you for signing up.

close