While I loooooove the holidays, they are also fraught with challenges You know what I mean? Too many calories. Too little sleep. Too many errands. Too little time. The year that I had FBC was especially difficult – obviously. DUH. I felt completely out of step from the rest of the world during that holiday season. I wondered: How do I take care of myself AND everything else? How can I celebrate when I have so many other things on my mind? I know that I wasn’t alone in having these feelings.
Here are some additional tips for coping with cancer during the holidays:
- Release obligation. This was especially hard for me, but when I did, I felt so much better. I didn’t “should” on myself. I gave myself permission to pace my activities and to decline invitations when I didn’t feel well or have the energy to participate.
- Express your feelings in ways that help you receive the support of the important people in your life. It is incredibly therapeutic to cry. In fact, tears often bring me a humongous sense of relief. Laughter can be simultaneously invigorating and relaxing. Sharing can be comforting. Let your feelings breaaaaaathe, and talk them over with a loved one, friend or professional counselor.
- Make plans to see family and friends. Trying to celebrate alone can be very difficult (especially when you are on Isolation Island!), so accept some invitations from others, or join an organized group activity through your local YMCA, YWCA, church or synagogue. Find the right balance between celebrating with family and friends and spending the time you may need on your own.
- Be a creative and innovative shopper or gift giver. When I was sick, I didn’t go into a single store. I shopped entirely online. This helped me immensely. I have to say that I have held to that practice! Another idea is to write a short note or make a phone call to let others know that you are thinking about them. The Silver Lining is that this is FREE!
- Create a new holiday season tradition that makes the most of your energy. One of my friends who had FBC has about 25 family members descend on her house for Christmas dinner. Many even bring their own tupperware to take food home. Seriously. It is so healthy to change your usual holiday activities so you relieve yourself of some (or all!) of the pressures of entertaining. You could have a “pot luck,” with family members each bringing a dish for the meal, have someone else host the meal, or suggest eating out at a favorite restaurant. Remember: asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness!
Hope that this helps! What has helped you cope?