The holidays are traditionally a time of celebration and coming together. However, the holidays can be emotionally and physically demanding for individuals with cancer and their caregivers. Here’s how to handle the holiday period with grace.

Rethink Family Traditions

The usual family get-togethers may be off the cards for someone with cancer. If you’re not up for long drives, involved baking sessions, or events that run late into the night, consider low-key alternatives instead. A zoom call can replace an in-person appearance, while a potluck dinner or simple yet festive store-bought dish can reduce the pressure to cook. Keep your decorations to a minimum and simplify your gift-giving by implementing a family Kris Kringle.

Reset Your Expectations

The holidays are important to all of us, but they carry even more weight for those with cancer and their caregivers. It’s easy to find yourself trying to create the “perfect” event or memory, something that puts a lot of pressure both on yourself and your friends and family. Instead, try to relax your expectations and enjoy being in the moment with your loved ones.

Don’t Overdo It

The end of the year is busy when everyone wants to connect, catch up, or spend time together. Don’t feel obligated to say yes to every invitation from a casual friendship group or attend that function with work colleagues. Commit to only the things that truly matter to you and that you feel well enough to be able to attend. If you feel overwhelmed or overcommitted, you can always change your mind.

Communicate with Others

Your friends and family don’t necessarily understand what it’s like to live with cancer. When accepting or declining an invitation, communicate your situation so that you can manage their expectations. You’ll be able to navigate a more manageable holiday period, and your loved ones will be able to work around your needs.

Ask for Help

If decorating, shopping, wrapping gifts, or traveling is too challenging, ask for help. Prepare a support list of people who are happy to help out with holiday-related tasks or travel, and contact them if you need assistance. They’ll be all too happy to help out – it is the holidays, after all!

Look After Yourself

The holidays aren’t a vacation from cancer. Plan ahead so that you have ample time to travel or get things done. Be sure also to allocate time for rest and relaxation. Naps, short walks, and time spent doing the things that relax and re-energize you are even more vital at this time of yours.

Southwest Women’s Oncology staff wishes you all the best for this holiday season. If you need any help or assistance during this time, please contact us. We’re here to help.

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