Coping with stress during the holidays

Kathleen Reynolds

By Kathleen Reynolds, MSN, RN, CS, clinical nurse specialist with Karmanos’ Supportive Service Department and Counseling Service

Once summer is over, it seems as if the holidays come one right after another – almost as if they are rolling over us like a bulldozer!  Store promotions for Halloween take place right after Labor Day, and before we know it, Thanksgiving is here, and then the huge push towards the winter holidays of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas. It all ends in a mad rush as we plan our New Year’s Eve festivities.

Many cancer patients struggle getting through one day to the next while going through cancer treatment. The onslaught of these wonderful social and family events during the holiday season can become almost like an albatross around your neck.  You may feel guilt over your inability to keep the fast and furious pace you normally keep and you may feel exhausted by your cancer treatments. It can all send you into a tailspin!

As you ponder how you might make this a better year for yourself, keep in mind that to benefit from treatment, you need to minimize your stress levels and nurture your body so that you can keep yourself in a healing environment.

In the simplest terms, you need to be more selfish!  Think of ways you can give personal thanks for the life you have been given. Find ways to feed your soul by doing activities that you enjoy and provide you satisfaction.

While attending holiday parties, offer to bring a dish rather than hosting the big family dinner. Take time at Thanksgiving to remember those things you are grateful for. You may want to make a list to remind yourself of them in the future.

Offer your wonderful self a gift this holiday season. It could be a massage, a movie you love to watch, a special dinner out at your favorite restaurant, or a personal gift that will bring you joy.  Give yourself time for peace, quiet and freedom from the holiday bustle.  Make no apologies to anyone. You can, however, provide a simple explanation to others that in the New Year, you will be taking care of yourself as your gift to you and your family!

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