Patient Blogs | Ankylosing Spondylitis
Surviving the Holidays With AS
photo of family holiday meal

The holidays are here again. It can be a challenge to navigate family get-togethers, company parties, or any of the many other reasons we get together during this time of year. Hopefully, a few of these tips will help you enjoy the holidays a little bit more when you have ankylosing spondylitis.

I think the key to most things in life is a good plan. The holidays are no different. For example, my body goes into full stop mode when I do a lot of extra things on back-to-back days. So planning ahead helps us navigate around that. The decisions you make at the beginning of the holiday season will affect everything else. In my opinion, this starts with: “Are you having any get-togethers at your house?” If that answer is “yes,” then make sure you have a good support system. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Delegate some of the housecleaning to family members. You would be surprised how many people will gladly help if you just ask. 

My wife loves to decorate for the holidays. We don’t normally go overboard when we decorate, but getting up and down from the attic was becoming an issue. My wife and I got together to solve this problem. We now have an area in our garage that is dedicated to holiday decorations. They are sorted in color-coded totes. Orange for Halloween and fall, red for Christmas, and some big clear ones we put seasonal pillows in. They are all lined up by color, and it makes it really easy to decorate now! Now remember: Just because it fits in the tote doesn’t mean it should go in there. Make sure you don’t completely fill your totes up, making them heavy to carry. Opt for more totes with fewer items to make it easier to carry. Your back will thank you! 

One of my biggest issues for the holiday is that I love to cook. When we are planning holiday parties at our house, I have a tendency to take on too much. I want to cook everything myself. I have had to learn to say yes when someone asks me if they can bring anything. I know it may not seem like much work making a few side dishes or appetizers, but it adds up. You could cut your kitchen time down so you will have more time to rest up. We usually cook the protein and will have friends and family bring appetizers and sides. Opt for doing a potluck, or have fun with something different, like easy holiday charcuterie boards! We plan on doing this for Christmas Eve where everyone is signed up to bring a different board.

Once the food has been devoured, it’s family time. Our family has an all-day competition to decide the winner. We play games like dominoes, different kinds of card games, and most entertaining is Pictionary! These are all games that I can play that don’t require physical exertion. We also try to space the games out throughout the day so that there is plenty of time for me to rest. The overall winner gets to decide on a restaurant for all of us to go to as a family. Now that dinner is usually in February or March. This just gives us another reason to see each other. Life can get hectic, and sometimes, family time suffers. 

The most important thing to remember during the holidays is you. Make time for yourself. Even if it’s just a few minutes on the couch or outside if it’s nice. Don’t feel bad about saying, “Hey I, need to take a break.” Be honest with your friends and family. If we have to travel during this time, we let them know it’s going to take us longer to get somewhere. We will even add an extra day for travel to allow me to rest before the event. This has allowed me to enjoy more gatherings since I’m not exhausted from a 4- to 6-hour drive. 

In my experience, they will be more than happy to help out during this time of year. Again, the most important thing is that you take care of yourself. No one knows how to help unless you let them know. So this holiday season, make sure you take it slow and enjoy. 



Photo Credit: golero / E+ via Getty Images

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Daniel Garcia

Daniel Garcia

Diagnosed since 2003

Daniel Garcia was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis in 2003. He enjoys gardening and traveling in his pop-up camper with his wife, Melissa, and dogs Chloe and Tilly on his good days. Garcia writes about travel on and gardening, technology, and DIY on You can connect with Daniel via his Instagram account.

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