'Tis the season to be busy, stressed out, painful and anxious or...jolly, merry and bright. Our five tried and true tips will keep recurring or chronic pain from ruining your holidays so you can ring in the season with true holiday spirit.

1. Simplify. In past years, you may have been the best host/hostess, most creative and generous gift-giver, chef, party planner and more.  This year may be different as you maneuver the holiday season while managing chronic pain. Consider it an opportunity, not a disappointment.  Simplifying your schedule and responsibilities means you can be fully "present" for holiday traditions instead of overwhelmed. 

  • Let someone else host and enjoy being a guest.
  • Give fewer gifts, shop online and avoid exhausting yourself and your budget.
  • Select holiday events that really hold meaning for you and decline "obligation events."

2. Travel light. If your holidays include travel, lighten your load.

  • Give yourself plenty of time so you won't feel stressed and schedule in rest days.
  • Pack less and avoid lugging heavy bags.
  • Think twice about where you'll be staying. Will bunking with family or friends provide enough personal space for rest and relaxation? Consider giving yourself the gift of a hotel room and avoid stress, fatigue and over-scheduling.

3. Stick to what works. Add in holiday activities that support (and won't sabotage) your healthy lifestyle and chronic pain relief plan. Don't risk losing your holiday spirit, because of lack of exercise or sleep or an unhealthy diet.

  • Consider time zones in your travel plans and adjust your sleep schedule to get your full eight or nine hours.
  • Be vigilant about foods that throw you off. For example, if red wine or blue cheese triggers migraines or you're losing weight to reduce joint pain, just say "no." Some party-goers eat a healthy meal before party-time so it's easier to forego dangerous temptations.
  • Don't skip your daily walk or workout. Ask friends and family to exercise with you and make it a family tradition.

4. Take your medicine. See your doctor about your best options for preventative, acute and chronic pain relief. 

  • Get prescription refills before the holidays so you don't risk running out.
  • Don't mix alcohol with narcotic pain medications like Vicodin, Tylenol with codeine, Percocet, Oxycodone, Oxycontin and others. This could lead to respiratory depression and even overdose.
  • Pack a snack if you normally take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications with food.

5. Count your blessings. No matter how tough your pain condition is, pay attention to how good life is.  That's what the holiday season is all about - family, friendship, gratitude, community, love, tradition and celebration.  The saying, "it feels better to give than receive," is absolutely true.  This holiday season, you deserve to feel better.

  • Volunteer through your church, work or community center to help organize gifts for underprivileged families.
  • Volunteer to do crafts or read to children who'll be spending their holidays in the hospital.
  • Let people help you and give others the feel-good opportunity to give back.