Tips for the holidays

Dealing with cancer can cause a lot of different emotions, especially during the holidays. With the holidays come a lot of gatherings with family and friends; which means a lot more social expectations and obligations. Often times, the cancer treatments that patients are going through can cause daily nausea and fatigue. This may result in a patient not being as into the holiday spirit. There are many things that cancer patients and their friends and family can do to reduce the stress that the holidays may bring.

1. Enjoy the Small Things and Keep Things Normal

Remember to enjoy the small aspects of the holidays that truly bring you joy. Three-time breast cancer survivor and inspirational speaker, Tina Pruitt suggested that if decorating the Christmas tree is something that you have always really enjoyed, make sure that you plan to do that. If you love baking holiday cookies and treats for your family, if possible make sure you still do this, but only as much as your body will allow. Simple things like lighting candles in your house or just watching a favorite holiday movie with your family may make you feel calm and at ease. Keeping things as meaningful and normal as possible can really make the holidays enjoyable and reduce the chance of becoming overwhelmed.

2. Simplify Your Gift-Giving to Close Family

Dealing with cancer can be a stressful experience so it is important not to bring on any additional stresses, even during the holidays. Holiday gift shopping can sometimes become overwhelming, even if it is done far in advance, so it is important to remember the true meaning of the holidays. Tina Pruitt also suggests trying to simplify your holiday gift-giving list. Letting everyone know (friends and extended family) that you will only be exchanging gifts with immediate family. This will help to simplify your holiday season.

3. Continue to Pay Attention to Your Diet

As a cancer patient it is extremely important to monitor your diet on a daily basis in order to ensure your body is receiving the proper nutrients that it needs to continue fighting the disease. This is important even during the holidays. With the holidays brings many unhealthy snacks and treats. Be sure that you are continuing to eat healthy. In addition, remember the importance of drinking enough fluids and remaining hydrated. Maintaining a healthy diet can help give you the energy that you need.

4. Suggest Small Gatherings

With the holidays come a lot of social gatherings with friends, family members, and co-workers. These get-togethers might become stressful and overwhelming for a cancer patient. Be sure to remember that if you aren't feeling well or just simply aren't in the mood for a social gathering, it is okay to say "no". Your friends and family will understand. Remember that it is okay if you would prefer to spend the holidays with only immediate family, said Karen Rapport, wife of a stage 4 kidney cancer patient, the daughter of a mom with inoperable brain cancer, and co-founder of Feel The Hugs organization which was created as a way to help cancer charities.

5. Take Care of You

This is the most important tip to keep in mind. Put yourself at the top of your list of priorities. Treat yourself to things that you normally wouldn't do. For example, get a manicure and pedicure. If taking a nap each day is going to help your overall energy level, then don't think twice about it.

The holidays should be a time to reflect on our blessings, enjoy our friends and family, but also feel comfortable while going through a hard time. Keeping these things in mind will help to ease the pressures of the holidays while battling cancer.