The holidays are a mixed blessing: a time to celebrate but also a time of stress. The pressures are magnified for those with cancer or their caregivers, but there are ways to make it easier.
First of all, keep it simple. Maybe you won’t send out those holiday cards this year. People will understand. If you are entertaining, plan a potluck so you don’t have to do all the work. Delegate chores. Don’t run all over the place looking for the perfect gift. Get gift certificates, shop on line, or go to small businesses where the shopping experience will be so much more restful than at the mall. Listen to your body. If you feel tired, take a break.
Whether you are a patient or caregiver, take some time for yourself. Get some fresh air, read a book, talk to friends or watch a movie on TV. Lie on the couch with a cup of tea or coffee by your side, then call friends or family members and tell them how you feel. Don’t try to put on a happy face if you’re tired or stressed. Don’t draw comparisons to years past. Do take time to celebrate the very fact of being alive.
Sweet treats are going to be all around, at other peoples’ houses, at your doorstep or in the office. Try to have something healthy with you; instead of taking that extra cookie, maybe eat an apple instead. If you are at a phase in treatment when food is unappetizing, nibble on a little something that looks palatable. Also drink plenty of water.
Knowing that you can find just about anything online, think about the interests that people have and buy something accordingly. For example, for the kids who have everything, I bought specialized T-shirts this year. For a niece who majored in geography and is now a graduate student in transportation planning, I found a website with maps clothing and got her a T-shirt with a beautiful map of the world. For my son who was addicted to the TV show “Breaking Bad,” I got a T-shirt from breakingbadstore.com. Many local stores have their own T-shirts; I got my other son a T-shirt from our local deli, Tailgate Picnic, a place he loves to go.
Whether shopping at your computer or at a store, take stretch breaks. Roll your shoulders, twist from one side to the other when sitting in a chair, bend in either direction from your waist, or anything else that keeps the blood flowing and keeps you from tightening up. These can just be subtle movements when you’re out in public. I do it all the time without worrying if I look silly. It’s better than blowing up at the cashier.
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