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A montage of three headshots of the MS nurses. Liz id dressed in a dark jacket and stands in front of a Christmas tree, Razia and Jen wear Santa hats

Tips for Christmas

By MS Helpline Nurses

Our 12 days of Christmas blog, looks at 12 tips and ways to look after yourself during this festive season – from planning ahead, staying connected and making time for you! 

1. Plan ahead 

If you can, but if you haven’t been able to don’t worry. You might want to arrange to meet with people after the festive period. Or send cards in the New Year to some people who might appreciate hearing from you when things are quieter. Keep a diary or make a list of what needs to be done and ask family or friends to become involved in last minute jobs.

2. Shopping

We know that the cost of living crisis has hit many people hard, so budgeting is important. Making use of cheaper shops, cheaper ranges of products and charity shops can help keep costs down. Instead of buying gifts for everyone, “secret Santa” can be a cheaper alternative, especially if you set a spending limit. Or why not get creative! Homemade gifts made with love are inexpensive. 

Find more money saving tips for Christmas on the Citizen's Advice website

3. Socialising

Try and do what you enjoy and avoid what stresses you, if possible. To help manage symptoms such as fatigue, pace yourself. Give yourself a day off before and after, if you’ve late nights or a special event you don’t want to miss out on. If meeting up in person isn’t possible, can you meet virtually in the comfort of your own home and connect by social media. For some who are newly diagnosed, this may be the first time you’re meeting others since you’ve been given this news. This might be overwhelming, but it’s up to you who you tell and how much information you wish to share. 

If you’d like some help in how to explain MS to others, you can look on our resources and publications page

4. Christmas alone

We recognise that Christmas can feel like a lonely time for some. We know the impact that loneliness and social isolation can have on our health and wellbeing. If you know someone who's alone this Christmas, take some time-out on Christmas day to give them a call and make sure they know someone cares for them.

If you’re spending this Christmas alone, have a think ahead about what you want to do beforehand. It may be that you decide to speak with people on the phone or online, watch a festive movie and have a nice meal. And remember that we’re here to make sure no one feels alone in their MS journey. Our online forum is a welcoming community of people who know life with MS. And you can get connect with people from around the UK who might be going through something similar.

5. Eating and drinking

Christmas is about enjoying yourself and we can all overindulge! Finding healthy meal options that everyone can enjoy can be helpful too. Drinking within the recommended guidelines means you’ll get to enjoy a Christmas tipple, without the negative effects on your mood and health. Maybe not all social events need to be around a meal, you might enjoy going out for a coffee with friends just as much.

6. Keep active

Either on your own or with friends and family. If you’re able to, getting outside in the fresh air can be mood boosting as well as good for our physical health. If you’re not able to get out you may want to check out some simple exercises for MS.

7. Mental health

We know many people experience stress, anxiety, isolation and loneliness at this time of year. Some people benefit from the structure and routine of Christmas planning. Whether you live with MS or support someone with MS, staying connected with others and finding ways to relax, or keep your mind stimulated might help. 

Find tips for looking after your mental wellbeing on Mind's website

8. Vaccines

It may not be too late to book your routine vaccinations such as the flu vaccine or COVID booster. 

Find out more about vaccines and MS

9. Medication

Remember GP’s and MS services’ opening times will be affected over Christmas. Make sure your repeat prescription is on your Christmas list! If you have a disease modifying therapy (DMT) delivered to your home, you can contact the homecare delivery company for information on your DMTs.

Find out more about out of hours delivery for your medication on the NHS website

10. Sleep 

Lots of people with MS experience sleep problems. During the busy festive period, make sure you take time to look after yourself and plan to get enough sleep. We have lots of tips on getting enough shut-eye in our Sleep and MS podcast.

11. Medical advice 

Check the opening hours of your GP surgery and MS services. If you’re worried about symptoms or need medical advice over the festive holidays, you can contact NHS 111 for advice outside GP or MS services opening times.

12. Make time for you! 

The Christmas holidays can be a busy time. But remember it’s important to make sure that you do something for you too. It’s ok to say ‘no’ when sometimes you aren’t feeling up to. Try setting a free day or two aside just for you to do what you want.

Whatever the holidays have in store for you this year, we’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  

Jennifer, Razia and Liz.

MS Helpline Christmas closure

Our MS Helpline will be closed over the festive period. We'll be unable to reply to enquiries from Friday 22 December from 3pm until Tuesday 2 January at 9am. We'll respond as soon as possible from this date onwards.

If you need to speak to someone about a medical matter and you live in England or Scotland, you can call the NHS on 111. For Wales, you can dial 0845 4647 and for Northern Ireland you can contact your GP surgery directly.

For emotional support the Samaritans can be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their telephone number is 116 123, or you can email them at [email protected].