The most wonderful time of the year is upon us and we’re gearing up for joyous celebrations, spending time with those we love, and gift-giving, but it may be tough getting excited about the holidays when your and your family have more serious issues on their minds. Being a cancer patient during the holidays means that you and your family may not necessarily be able to continue the same traditions or participate in the same events that you used to, but we are here to reassure you that this does not mean you won’t enjoy the holidays. Instead of focusing on how this year won’t be the same as the years before, focus on how you can adapt this year’s festivities to make sure you have the opportunities to get into the holiday spirit.
Tips to Make The Most of the Holiday Season
There are several organizations out there that want to help cancer patients and their families find joy during the holiday season, including CancerCare and the American Cancer Society, both of whom have put together a list of tips and suggestions that can help those living with cancer during the holidays get into the holiday spirit. We wanted to pass on this helpful information because everyone, especially those enduring hardship, deserves to experience the love and joy of the holiday season…
— Don’t shop ‘til you drop and stick to a budget. Do as much online shopping as possible and get creative. A framed piece of nostalgia could mean more to someone than the latest electronics. Remember that buying things will not make up for any negative feelings you are having.
— Learn to say no. You don’t have to participate in everything. People will understand if you can’t do certain activities.
— Enlist support for organizing holiday gatherings, meal preparation, and cleanup. Don’t pressure yourself with unrealistic expectations or try to do everything yourself.
— Express your feelings in ways that help you receive the support of the important people in your life. Sharing can be comforting. It is common to experience a mixture of anticipation, excitement and apprehension about the future. Give yourself permission to feel and express your feelings, whether of joy, fear, sadness, or pain. Let yourself laugh or cry.
— Take care of yourself: Eat balanced meals, drink in moderation, and try to make time for some physical activity, which is a good way to relieve stress. Get plenty of sleep. Don’t abandon healthy habits.
— Allow yourself simple pleasures that will help lift your spirits, such as reading outside, hot baths, and naps.
— Prepare for the holidays. Create a list of the usual traditions and events and decide if you want to continue certain traditions or create new ones. Plan how you want to spend your time, with whom, and for how long.
— Don’t overindulge in alcohol. Because alcohol is a depressant, it can “bring out” or heighten bad feelings.
— Find distractions like going out to dinner or a movie or playing board games or cards with friends.
— Don’t try to force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
— Make plans to get together with friends, family or co-workers over the holidays. Trying to celebrate alone can be very difficult. Find the right balance between celebrating with family and friends and spending the time you may need on your own.
— Talk to your health care team about upcoming special events. They may be flexible about appointments in order to accommodate travel or other needs.
— Celebrate strengths you and your loved ones have developed. Many families who face the day-to-day challenges of cancer discover strengths and courage they didn’t know they had. Reflect on the strengths you have developed, and build on them during the holidays.