Cancer Support: Tips for Beating the Holiday Blues
Christmas season is coming. Plans for social gatherings are being prepared. Malls are filled with the sights and sounds of the season. Families plan Christmas meals. But for people battling cancer, the joy of Eid can ease stress, sadness, and worry about its diagnosis and treatment. The mess of the next few weeks doesn’t help. But there are ways to de-stress and take the time to enjoy the season.
Instead of hoping to spend time with loved ones, you might be wondering, “How can I manage the vacation while paying attention to what’s best for my health?” Elaine Smith, MS, LMFT, a mind-body therapist at our hospital near Atlanta, offers these tips for cancer patients trying to take vacations:
Make realistic plans
- Make a list of priority activities.
- Even if this year was different from the past, focus on the here and now with an open mind and gratitude for the positive aspects of your life.
- Set a budget and stick to it. Financial challenges can extend your stress into the post-holiday season.
- Make plans to accommodate your life today, not the way it was before.
Realistically assess your energy level
- Realize that dealing with fatigue and therapy can be overwhelming.
- Take the time each morning to gauge your energy level for the day.
- Schedule your activities according to how you feel that day. Energy levels rise and fall, so every day will be different.
- Stay positive.
Be open and honest
- Say yes when you mean it.
- Say no, without feeling guilty, when you feel it’s the best thing for your health and emotional well-being.
- Share your thoughts and feelings with others.
Get enough rest
- Go at your own pace. Overdoing it and being overly alert can affect our sleep patterns.
- Make sleep a priority. Sleep is beneficial and healing. Lack of sleep can exhaust you and affect your mood.
Take the time to energize yourself
- Relax by practicing mindful breathing.
- Listen to calm music.
- Use guided images and positive mental images to help relieve stress.
- Spend 15 minutes a day on mind and body techniques, which can positively impact your physical and mental health.
Maintain healthy habits.
- Beware of excesses. Vacations are often “free for all” for many. Practice moderation.
- Enjoy special meals and activities, but stick to your healthy plan.
Holidays are a special time of the year. It provides the opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones. While it can be easy to fall into the gift frenzy, balance the potential fun of holiday cheer with the realization that, as a cancer patient, your health and well-being should be your number one priority. “Giving a gift can bring us happiness,” Smith says. “But sharing the gift of ourselves with those we love can be priceless.”