By American Cancer Society
The holidays can be a difficult time of year when you or a loved one is facing cancer. Your usual traditions may be disrupted by treatment needs or unpleasant side effects; the demands of the season may feel overwhelming when combined with the emotions stirred by dealing with a serious illness.
These tips and resources can help get you through:
• 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 and make time for some exercise. Physical activity is a good way to release the tension that builds around this time of year.
• Allow yourself simple pleasures — hot baths, naps, favorite foods — that will help lift your mood.
• Find distractions like going to a movie, dinner, or a ball game; playing cards with friends, or other activities you enjoy.
• Prepare for the holidays. Decide if you want to continue certain traditions or create new ones. Plan in advance how you want to spend your time, with whom, and for how long.
• Enlist support for organizing holiday gatherings, meal preparation, and cleanup.
• Learn to say no. You don’t have to participate in everything. People will understand if you can’t do certain activities.
• Don’t pressure yourself with unrealistic expectations or try to do everything yourself.
• Don’t overindulge in alcohol. Since alcohol is a depressant, it can “bring out” or heighten bad feelings.
• Don’t try to force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
• Don’t shop ‘til you drop. Stick to a budget if you are going shopping. Buying things will not make up for any negative feelings you are having. Decide how much money you can afford to spend on gifts and other items. Then stick to your budget.
• Don’t plan too much per day. Plan ahead, setting aside specific days for specific tasks.
• Don’t abandon healthy habits. Eat and drink in moderation. Get plenty of sleep.
Learn From Others
Other cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers can also be a source of comfort and support during the holiday season.
Check out one of these online communities to connect directly with people who know what you’re going through:
• Whatnext.com was developed in part with the American Cancer Society. Get firsthand insights from others facing cancer, get answers to your questions, and read how others are handling the holidays.
• Cancer Survivors Network (http://csn.cancer.org) is a community of cancer survivors, family, and friends, who control all site content. Find and communicate with others who share your interests and experiences.
See cancer.org for other tips and resources, including “Coping with Grief During the Holidays,” “Words of Inspiration” from Cancer Survivors, and “Tips on Holiday Eating.” Call the American Cancer Society any time day or night, even on holidays, to speak with a real person and get local resources to help. 1.800.227.2345
Reprinted with Permission