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If You Don’t Take Care Of Yourself, You Won’t Be Able To Care For Anyone Else

The holidays are typically a festive time of year.  Parties with family and friends, gift giving and receiving, and celebrating with traditions handed down from generation to generation are usually on the agenda for the season.  However, when one is dealing with cancer – whether it’s their diagnosis or someone that they love – this time of year can be extra stressful.

The following tips may help you cope during the holiday season.

Do:

  • Keep it simple this year. Many of us love to decorate, to do everything we can to create this amazing winter wonderland.  We love to host parties, bake treats and gift them to our neighbors and friends.  When we’re overwhelmed with cancer, this is the time that we want to prioritize what is most important to us; you don’t have to worry about doing it all.
  • Let yourself feel the emotions. The holidays often come with many emotions.  We want to laugh, cry, and scream.  We want to feel the joy and love.  Do that.  Do all of them.  A good cry or scream, even a great belly laugh, can bring a sense of relief.  If you need to talk to a loved one or a counselor about added emotions of frustration and sadness, do so.
  • Lift your mood by finding your simple pleasures. Do you remember what a hot bath feels like?  How about eating a favorite food?  These simple pleasures can instantly lift your mood.
  • Do listen to your body. There’s nothing worse than over doing an activity or pushing yourself to complete everything in a small amount of time.  Your body will rebel.  You’ll become exhausted and sore.  Listen to your body.  Rest when you need to rest.  Sleep when you need to sleep.  Eat when you need to eat.
  • Feel free to say no. We don’t have to do everything.  Nor do we have to be everywhere.  Feel free to say no when you know you will not be able to complete a task or attend that extra holiday party.  People will understand.
  • Be creative with your holiday shopping and gift giving. Running around to store after store may have been fun last year.  But this year, if you’re dealing with cancer treatments, it may be more tiring than ever before.  This might be the perfect opportunity for you to try online shopping, ordering something from a catalog or over the phone.

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Don’t:

  • Don’t try to do everything yourself. Pushing ourselves to the limit will only decrease our energy and increase our pain levels.  Your spouse, family, and friends may be able to help.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help can be difficult, especially when we feel we should do it all ourselves.  However, this is the time that others would be more than willing to lend a hand.  If you can’t host that holiday party this year, see if one of your friends would be willing to.  If you are having a hard time wrapping all the presents because your hands hurt, see if your spouse or best friend could come over to assist.  Remember you want to try to keep things simple and prioritize this year.
  • Don’t ignore your body. In the “Do” list we talked about listening to your body; don’t ignore it!  Ignoring our aches and pains can only cause more inflammation and weaken our immune system even further.  Continue to eat a healthy diet, exercise when you can, don’t over indulge in the delicious food or drinks when celebrating.
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew. We may have a tendency to say “yes” when asked to do something, to be somewhere, or to support someone.  We want to continue doing those things during the holidays; however, saying yes to everything may create more stress than we need.  Remember you can say “no” and people will understand.

This is a joyous time of year.  Although it is a time to celebrate with family and friends, it is also a time to look out for yourself.  It’s a time to do what is best for you.  The best gift you can give anyone is your continued health.

Learn more about Angela’s battle against breast cancer.
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