5 Tips for Reducing Holiday Stress

PicMonkey Collage2By Robyn Stroller, Founder of CancerHawk.com. Originally posted on CancerHawk.com on November 23, 2014.

Getting through the holiday season can be difficult under the best of circumstances, but if you or a loved one is facing cancer, the holidays can be especially trying.  For some people, the demands of the season will be physically and emotionally overwhelming. For others, treatments and unpleasant side effects can disrupt long-held traditions.

Dana Farber Cancer Institute posted these 5 tips for reducing holiday stress:

1. Keep it simple

Don’t worry about doing it all. Baking cookies or entertaining might have been easy in the past, but may seem overwhelming this year. Pick one or two special traditions and then ask family and friends for help. Make a list of what is most meaningful and prioritize. Some families even create new traditions when a loved one is going through treatment. Instead of a big holiday party, this year, plan a small potluck dinner and have everyone pitch in.

2. Go online

Skip the long lines and mall mayhem this time of year. Crowded shopping centers may be filled with holiday cheer, but they can be overwhelming. Shopping online lets people browse from the comfort of their couch. Invite friends over for gift wrapping or a cookie swap. Simple homemade gifts and cards, or even a phone call, can be just as special. The Internet is full of holiday e-card options and even grocery delivery services.

3. Express yourself

As the song says, this is the happiest time of the year. But if you or a family member is not feeling that way, it’s okay. Don’t feel obligated to be festive. Remember that it’s okay to show emotion – tears can bring a sense of relief. Pay attention to feelings and signs of stress. Joy can be side-by-side with other emotions like sadness or frustration, and it can help to talk these through with a loved one or a professional counselor.

4. Listen to your body

Fatigue due to cancer treatment is a common problem, so try to balance activity with rest. Conserving energy this time of year is important for most everyone. It’s important for people going through treatment to plan activities when they typically feel at their best and be sure to set aside time to relax and recover. Also stick to healthy activities. Take a walk with family or friends.

5. Plan a little “me” time

Do something enjoyable for yourself. This can provide a break from worries, and renews a sense of hope and satisfaction with life. Watching a favorite movie, talking to friends, playing seasonal music, or getting some fresh air can give a sense of peace and hopefulness. Try to focus on things to be thankful for to help enjoy – and let go of – what you can.

What do YOU do to reduce stress while celebrating the holidays with cancer?  Email robyn@cancerhawk.com OR tweet your suggestions to @CancerHawk and we’ll post them on our site.