• Julian Randall

Navigating Sickle Cell During The Holidays

The holiday season has the potential to trigger a myriad of mental stressors that could totally ruin this oh-so happy time of the year! This issue is compounded for those dealing with chronic health conditions such as sickle cell anemia. The current biomedical and sociocultural climate also doesn’t help. Thus, it’s imperative that those who have sickle cell are especially taking care of themselves during these times.

Set Boundaries

Not allowing the holidays to resurface any negative emotions is something that sickle cell and non-sickle cell carriers have to navigate every year! Whether it’s Aunt Jane mentioning your weight or grandma asking you when you’re going to get married, it’s crucial to remember that setting boundaries is not only okay, but necessary. People must know what’s acceptable to do and say to you not only for their mere understanding, but for your own mental health. As you may know, stress and sickle cell do not mix well!

Dig In, Wisely

In addition to mental health serving as the foremost guide through which we navigate the intricacies of the holidays, our food consumption is just as important. What we eat plays an integral role into our physical, emotional, and psychological welfare. This is the time of year to fully indulge in all of your family’s favorite cuisines, especially considering how unique of a year 2020 has been. However, you must remember how you want to feel after it’s all over. The holiday season is temporary but you have to be able to live with your body.

Enjoy Yourself!

Depending on the severity of one’s condition, it could be likely that day-to-day living can present a set of unique challenges that makes doing life difficult. Take this time to fully enjoy all of the positives that the holidays bring! Family, food, games, all of it. Being in a good mood and releasing those endorphins have innumerable benefits. After all, you totally deserve to enjoy yourself right now. We’ve almost made it through the year and that counts for a lot.

Converse On Your Terms

I get it, you love your family, so do we. And sometimes those conversations can get uncomfortable and that’s okay. But as aforementioned, we’ve got to normalize managing familial conversations according to our preferences. It’s okay to not want to discuss sickle cell during the holiday and it’s also okay to tell them that. Any information regarding your condition should be discussed on your terms, always. Now go have fun! You can best maneuver these conversations by remaining in control of the conversation.

Overall, it’s important to just remain aware of your triggers because no one knows them the way that you do. The commencement of the holiday season does not mean that you have to compromise on your lifestyle, beliefs or values. It’s simply a time for family and friends to come together, enjoy each other’s company and express genuine love and expression. Anything that poses a threat to that, is a no-go.

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