(BPT) – Just when we all thought it was still March, the holidays have crept up on us. Let’s face it, we could all use a little joy right now to brighten up our holidays. Although the holidays may look different this year, many of us are hoping to keep a few normal traditions. Whether it’s gathering safely with family or enjoying a special meal, if you’re suffering from a recurrent diarrheal condition like C. difficile infection, those things can be anything but normal. Here are 5 tips Dr. Paul Feuerstadt of the PACT Gastroenterology Center in Connecticut recommends to help people with C. diff enjoy the holiday season.

1) Try your best to decompress

The holidays come with their own set of stressors. Gathering for meals with loved ones shouldn’t be one of them. Feuerstadt explains that those living with recurrent C. diff often show greater signs of stress in general, and frequently when it comes to mealtime.

Many C. diff patients often suffer a range of increased emotions which can be further elevated during the holiday season. Whether it’s grief, anger, fear, depression or anxiety, remember the holidays are a time to be kind to one another, including yourself.1

Take some time for yourself. Each day take 10 minutes to relax. Close your eyes and try your best to clear your mind.

Find outlets to help manage your stress and anxiety, such as through yoga, listening to music, reading a good book or just by getting enough sleep (7-8 hours per night).1

Listen to your body. It will tell you when you may need to take a minute for yourself. If the feelings are more intense than you feel you can consistently handle, follow up with your healthcare provider.

2) Don’t try to do it all yourself

The holidays can be a busy time of year. From picking out gifts for loved ones, to decorating the house, those suffering from C. diff can feel overwhelmed easily.

Rather than trying to do everything this year, why not focus on a couple of fun holiday traditions you enjoy? Maybe your one big activity is family baking and you ask a family member to help you decorate cookies. Whatever it may be, remember you don’t need to do it all. Focus your attention on one or two holiday traditions so you’re able to enjoy them to the fullest.

3) Know what’s on the menu

Whether you’re the chef or guest at a holiday dinner, know what’s on the menu. If there are certain foods or ingredients you must avoid, let your host know.

Although no two people are alike, there are foods that C. diff patients should generally avoid, including dairy products with lactose, greasy foods and any foods that may cause bloating (e.g., broccoli, onions, beans).2

Knowing it’s never good to arrive at a holiday gathering empty-handed, consider bringing a dish that you know will keep your gut calm and that you can eat without repercussions.

Remember to consult your healthcare professional for more information on nutritional advice for foods that are best suited for your body type and C. diff infection.

4) Practice health and safety guidelines

Anyone living with recurrent C. diff knows how contagious it is. That’s why it’s important to ensure you maintain standard health and safety measures, such as frequent handwashing. When using the restroom, be sure to always wash your hands with soap and water before touching surfaces such as doorknobs. Please be aware that alcohol-based hand sanitizer will not kill C. diff spores.3,4

Although already top of mind for most, COVID-19 is still on the rise in many parts of the country. Proper handwashing, social distancing and wearing of face coverings is essential for everyone. Many people living with C. diff have already been practicing many of these universal hygiene measures before COVID-19 so this will be less of an adjustment.

COVID-19 has opened the doors to telehealth, making it even easier and more common for people with C. diff to connect with both their local medical providers but also experts across the country who might be able to help. If you feel that you are not well, you should feel free to utilize these modern tools to communicate with providers to get the proper care you need, when you need it.

5) Try a new tradition

2020 has been a year unlike any other. We’ve all had to reimagine the expectation of being “together” and perhaps this year is the time to try a new tradition — like a virtual meal with family and friends who are far away. If you’re a big football fan, you may consider a Zoom football watch party. Or how about a recipe and meal prep virtual gathering? It’s normal for people with C. diff to feel isolated, so try turning social distancing into an opportunity to be more connected without the stress of, “What if I need to get to the bathroom quickly?” Embrace technologies like Zoom to safely connect with loved ones and take this opportunity to spin this constraint into a positive.

Although the holidays this year will look a little different, consider these tips as a guide to safely connect with your loved ones and enjoy this special season. Above all, continue to talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms, and potential treatments. There have been a number of important advancements in therapies for recurrent C. diff that may help people feel better and lead better lives.

About C. diff:

Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) is a type of bacteria that can cause diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, nausea, colitis, and in more serious cases, shock and death. According to the CDC, it’s estimated to cause almost half a million illnesses in the United States each year.5 After initial C. diff infection, up to 35% of patients may experience symptoms again, also known as recurrent C. diff infection.6

To learn more about the power of the microbiome and if it can be unlocked to break the cycle of recurrent C. diff infection, visit http://www.powerofmicrobiome.com/ and on Twitter, follow @FerringUSA.

This piece is sponsored by Ferring Pharmaceuticals, a research-driven, specialty biopharmaceutical group committed to helping people around the world build families and live better lives.

1 C Diff Foundation. Warm Wishes for a Peaceful Holiday Season. https://cdifffoundation.org/tag/holidays/. Accessed on November 10, 2020.

2 C Diff Foundation. Nutrition: Suggested Foods to Avoid During a C. difficile Infection. https://cdifffoundation.org/nutrition/. Accessed on November 10, 2020.

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Information for Patients. https://www.cdc.gov/cdiff/prevent.html. Accessed on November 10, 2020.

4 C Diff Foundation. Hand Washing & Updates. https://cdifffoundation.org/hand-washing-updates/. Accessed on November 10, 2020

5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What Is C. diff? https://www.cdc.gov/cdiff/what-is.html. Accessed on November 10, 2020.

6 Lessa FC, Mu Y, Bamberg WM, et al. Burden of Clostridium difficile infection in the United States. N Engl J Med. 2015;372(9):825-834.