How to Cope With Cancer This Holiday Season

Coping With Cancer During the Holiday Season

The winter holidays can often be a time of joy but when you've recently received a cancer diagnosis or are going through cancer treatment, the holiday season might not seem as bright as it usually does. You might feel worried or stressed about what the diagnosis means and might not feel up to celebrating. If you've started to receive treatment, you might have less energy than usual.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help yourself feel better during the holidays. Remember to make time for yourself and don't be shy about asking for support should you need it.

Give Yourself Time for Self-Care

Even without cancer, the holidays can be a frantic time. You might feel obligated to put the needs of others above yourself and might feel that you need to do whatever it takes to keep things as "normal" as possible.

In all the hustle and bustle of the holiday, it's critical that you carve out some time for self-care, especially if you're dealing with cancer. Self-care can take many forms. For example, practicing self-care can mean giving yourself some quiet time alone at the start or end of the day. It can mean spending an hour curled up in a chair reading a book or watching your favorite TV show.

Self-care can also take the form of pampering. You might decide to spend an evening soaking in the tub or treat yourself to a manicure or massage.

When deciding what to do to practice self-care, think about what you like most. It could be spending time with your loved ones or friends, taking a walk after dinner, or making an arts and crafts project.

Keep Things Simple

Consider scaling back your holiday celebrations to keep things as simple as possible. If you're used to throwing large dinners or hosting big parties, find ways to ease the burden on yourself by simplifying. You might have a potluck meal instead of taking on all the cooking yourself, for example.

When deciding what to keep and what to do away with during the holidays, focus on the things you like the most. You might love baking cookies with your family but not be as excited about having to buy numerous presents for everyone. In that case, you can suggest a cookie exchange or a day spent together baking rather than a large gift exchange.

Similarly, don't feel that a holiday meal has to be elaborate or include multiple sides. Dinner with one main dish and two or three sides will likely be more than enough. Also, you don't have to cook everything from scratch. There are plenty of ready-made sides and dishes out there to give you a hand.

Get Help When You Need It

Speaking of giving you a hand, don't be shy about asking for help when needed. Your family and friends want to support you and are likely to be willing to help out when you ask, whether that means bringing a few dishes for the family meal, helping you wrap gifts, or taking on the responsibility of shopping for you.

Keep in mind that there are community resources available to help you out if you're feeling tired and want help with meal prep or shopping. Your physician can also point you in the direction of assistance programs if you need them.

Consider Starting a New Tradition

Getting a cancer diagnosis can change your life and cause you to reflect on the things that matter most to you. One way to handle cancer during the holidays is to use it as an example to start a new tradition. The new tradition might be one that encourages you to reflect on things you love and are thankful for. Alternatively, it could just be something fun to try with your loved ones.

For example, you might start a white elephant exchange or watch a holiday movie every night in December. You can start taking walks after dinner or start going for a drive to see the holiday lights in your area.

Finally, don't be shy about taking a step back from holiday traditions this year. If you're feeling tired or too stressed, it's okay to ask for a break and use the time to care for yourself.

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