CCC - Coping with Christmas and Cancer

Christmas is truly just around the corner! The round of parties and get-togethers are in full swing. Christmas day food and activities need to be planned. Presents have to be selected and wrapped and the list goes on. Christmas is a time for families and families to re-connect, share and spend quality time with each other while enjoying the season. But what if you’re feeling ill, tired or just down? If you’re someone who has always held the big Christmas feast or who have children that you’ve always made the day special for, then Christmas may be difficult if you’re going through cancer diagnosis or treatment.

I hope the following suggestions may help if you find yourself in this situation.

1. Don’t be tied to the idea, “I’ve always done this or that at Christmas”. Accept that this year is different and adjust accordingly. Doing less or something different doesn’t mean worse.

2. Maybe this is the year you become an on-line shopper extraordinaire. Purchasing gifts on line can save energy and sometimes come gift-wrapped.

3. Accept offers of help or ask. People are usually only too happy to help, especially at this time of year. Ask them to help put the tree up or the Christmas lights or wrap the presents. 

4. Suggest that the Christmas feast be held at someone else’s house this year. Or suggest a bring and share meal. This can be a great way of sharing more than just the meal. You could even simply alter the menu - think of short cuts that you could take i.e. pre-prepared food etc. If the budget allowed you could simply go out to a restaurant for Christmas lunch or dinner.

5. Allow yourself time to be still. If you need to lie down, then do it. Don’t feel you have to keep going – people will understand.

6. If you have a regular exercise program try to keep to it if your body allows. It is easy to be side-tracked over the holiday period but that exercise is important for body and mind.   If your time is being eaten up, then break the exercise into smaller time portions i.e. if you walk for 30 minutes each day normally, then make it 2 x 15 minutes walks.

7. Think about what you’re going to eat at the parties and get-togethers. Have something small to eat before you go so you don’t fill up on party food that is usually higher in calories. If your favourite food is served don’t deny yourself. Just try to select a smaller serving.

8. Drink a lot of water (about 2 litres each day) to keep hydrated and help ease fatigue.  Alternate an alcoholic drink with a glass of water.

9. Ensure you get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can make you cranky, lose focus and affect your immune system. As Christmas is a busy time, sleep is often something that is compromised.

10. If you are feeling down, don’t be hard on yourself. Think about what has happened and know it’s ok if you don’t feel the holiday spirit. Try to meet with friends and exercise, as these are great ways to help beat the ‘blues’

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