Facebook Pixel

Top Ten Tips for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the Holidays

By HERWriter
Rate This
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome related image Photo: Pixabay

What is the holiday season like for someone with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Different. Really different. Everyone could stand to reduce the stress this time of year, but for the chronically ill, it's essential.

Do you suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Or do you know someone who is ill? Then lend an ear to some suggestions not on the standard wish list.

1) Gifts from a distance

Travel is out for CFS shut-ins at the holidays. Many are not up to people visiting. Some can't handle phone calls.

This can be an intensely lonely time for the chronically ill. Send them cards, send emails, send them gifts. Write about special memories shared during happier, healthier days. Compile a photo album of time spent together.

Make sure to consider any chemical sensitivities when choosing gifts.

2) Be a Personal Shopper

Many with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome find shopping a huge obstacle. Some are housebound. Some can no longer drive. Some are able to go out but facing holiday crowds may do them in.

You can offer to do some of their shopping, or drive them to the stores. Help them really experience the joy of the season. And they will feel loved in the process.

3) Lower the financial bar

Many who are chronically ill have unhealthy budgets. Unable to work, or shouldering high medical expenses, they often live on a slim little shoestring.

Draw names for gift exchanges rather than buying for everyone in the family. Emphasize smaller, more personal gifts. Better yet, emphasize the importance of being together, so that gifts are incidental.

4) Gifts that keep on giving

If someone you love is chronically ill, consider giving a gift of things like monthly help around the house, or weekly visits with them.

An afghan for the lady who is bed-ridden and chills easily, snow-shovelling for the winter for the man with muscle pain or vertigo. Perhaps a present of a much-needed supplement, or chemical-free organic soap, or an offer of rides to the doctor would be most valuable.

5) Cultivate hobbies

Does your chronically ill friend have a hobby that helps while away the hours, or allows them to be productive or creative? Consider yarn or needles for the knitter, books by a favorite author, music to soothe and uplift.

6) Provide a haven

Does one of your guests suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Prepare a quiet room they can go to for a short (or long) rest or nap, a place they can retire to if festivities wear them out.

And if you tell them ahead of time that you've planned for this, they'll feel more confident about pacing themselves through the visit. They will be touched by your thoughtfulness of their vulnerability.

7) Tone down the audio/visual

If you can avoid flashing lights as decorations your chronic friends will thank you for it. Keep in mind that loud music and rowdy kids can cause sensory, neurological overload that may have repercussions for a surprisingly long time.

8) Think small and intimate

People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome often are drained by large get-togethers. A small gathering for a short period of time works best. Your loved one will be able to enjoy more holiday cheer later, rather than being flattened by one big celebration.

9) Scrutinize the menu

Consider any special diets of those who sit down to your table. Gluten sensitivity? Have something available that contains no flour. Cut down on the sugar in the desserts.

Go ahead and lay out your traditional meal, but provide extra dishes more friendly to those who can't handle certain foods.

When in doubt, ask. BEFORE the menu is finalized.

10) Ease the load

If you've always fed the family but now suffer from CFS, let others share this blessed burden. Your sister can bake (or buy) the pies, your brother can bring rolls.

Your aunt would love to make her special holiday recipe. Don't be shy about asking the younger ones to clean up.

The priority after all, is spending quality time with people you love.

I spent 15 years losing the battle against CFS — two years ago I found treatment that worked for me, and now I am making a comeback.



Add a Comment5 Comments


Thanks Diane.

I'm glad my article gave you some new ideas. It's great to hear when I've connected with someone and they take an idea and run with it. It is also reassuring to any of the chronically ill to read such nurturing, caring comments as yours and Pat's.

Diane, I'm sure any chronically ill person would enjoy the quiet haven you will have created for them.

November 30, 2009 - 9:55am


What a wonderful article. I, too, took away several things that I'd have never thought of without your post. I hope that everyone who reads it will point it out to someone else, and that in turn those people will point it out to someone else, so that it will reach as many people as possible. Thank you so much for writing. I personally will never forget to make the guest room a quiet haven for someone who needs to rest.

November 30, 2009 - 8:29am
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you very helpful

November 28, 2009 - 1:09am

Hi Pat,

I'm glad you found the article helpful.

I am always so happy to hear from people like yourself. It is a nice reminder that there are people out there who are sensitive to the chronically ill. And yes, most of these tips would definitely be appropriate for many people with many types of illnesses and disabilities.

Thanks for taking these tips and running with them.

November 27, 2009 - 8:39pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hi Jodi - I learned a lot of new information from your article, and really appreciated it. As I was reading it I realized that a lot of your suggestions would also be helpful for those dealing with other conditions that affect one's energy, such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. I plan to borrow some of your tips to support some friends over the upcoming holiday period, and also plan to share them with their loved ones. Thanks for your insight and these valuable tips.
Take good care,

November 27, 2009 - 4:08pm
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Get Email Updates

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!