The holidays are a hectic time of year. Schedules and routine can go out the window with an onslaught of shopping, decorating, travel, social gatherings and other potentially stress-inducing activities.
You may be spending time with people who don’t know you have epilepsy and what your Seizure Action Plans is.
Taking some time to plan ahead can help make the Holiday Season happier and healthier.
Here are some tips for the holiday season:
Holiday Parties & Large Gatherings
- Talk to your clinician to determine your individual risk for alcohol consumption.
- If you follow a specific diet, review the restaurant menu in advance to ensure there are options that will be appropriate for you. If you are bringing food for a potluck, bring something that you are able to eat. If food you need will not be served, eat in advance or bring something with you.
- Remember that changes in sleep patterns can be a seizure trigger.
- Remember that changes in temperature can be a seizure trigger. Be mindful when in large gatherings such as parties and religious services, or even in shopping centers.
Stress Reduction Tips (Good for everyone!)
Know your stress triggers and work to manage them, especially if stress is a seizure trigger for you.
- Planning Ahead: Shop or decorate in advance, not at the last minute.
- Rest! Ensure that you are staying on your sleep schedule whenever possible.
- Relationships and Grieving: The holidays aren’t a festive time for everyone. Some people might be emotional over the loss of a loved one who will be missing the holiday season. Remember, self-care is important and making sure you address and manage your feelings is important to reducing your stress levels.
- Depression and Suicidality can be experienced at any time, and particularly during the holiday season. Don’t wait. Get help from other people or agencies that specialize in crisis intervention and suicide prevention, including the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (Dial 988).
- Exercise can be a great stress reducer. If you exercise regularly, keep it up through the holidays. If you don’t, consider how you will incorporate exercise into your routines.
While standard holiday lights are not a concern for MOST people with epilepsy, it is important to know your seizure triggers regarding lights, light shows and/or LED lights.
Seizure Safety at Holiday Gatherings
Hopefully you have shared your Seizure Action Plan with your family members and friends. Remember, allowing your family and friends to be part of your Seizure Action Plan EMPOWERS them to help you. It can make them feel helpful instead of helpless if you have a seizure.
If you have not shared your Seizure Action Plan with your family members, please consider doing so.
If you are attending a party without a family member or friend who knows your Seizure Action Plan, consider informing the host of your Seizure Action Plan. You can do this in advance via text, phone call or in-person. Should you have a seizure at the party, the host will know what to do and possibly mitigate an unnecessary call to 911.
Tools and Resources Available to talk to your Family about your Seizure Action Plan
Are you traveling for the holidays? Whether you are traveling to spend time with family and friends or taking a much needed vacation, check out our Seizure Safety Travel Tips.
Clinicians sometimes have reduced office hours around the holidays. If you need medication refills for your travel needs, try to plan ahead.
For Kids with Epilepsy
Many of the tips above apply to children with epilepsy as well. Talk to your child with epilepsy to address any anxiety or concerns they might have about the holiday season.
Some additional tips:
- If your child is attending holiday parties and following a special diet, talk to the school / host in advance to ensure there is something they can eat. If not, pack a special snack for them that they can enjoy.
- Winter sports and activities can be fun, but also expose us to great temperature changes. If temperature is a seizure trigger for your child, plan ahead.
Managing the holiday season is stressful when you are caring for someone with a medical condition. Give yourself some grace and make sure you are taking time for yourself. Remember, self-care is not selfish.
Additional Resources Available
What the ELF Episode – Our friends at What the EF released a special holiday edition podcast on November 30, 2023. You can hear their five favorite strategies to stay merry and bright (and hopefully seizure free) in this 16 minute podcast.
CURE Epilepsy Podcast – Our friends at CURE Epilepsy focused on Epilepsy and the Holidays in December, 2022.
Support Groups – Finding ‘your people’ is important. Consider joining an in-person or virtual support group to talk about your concerns with people who ‘get you’ and ‘get it’. Creating connections and building community is what our member organizations are here to do for you.
The content for this page was created by Epilepsy Alliance America and its member organizations and approved by its National Professional Advisory Committee members.
This production of this page was made possible through a gift from NEURELIS.
Updated December 4, 2023