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Holiday simplicity: Tips for families coping with cancer

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The busy holiday season can easily become overwhelming when you or someone you love is undergoing medical treatment.

People with cancer can sometimes feel out of step with the rest of the world, and the holidays can prompt new questions.

How can I celebrate when I have so many other things on my mind?

What will my life be like next year?

How will I manage the holiday rush and myself at the same time?

Sharing these questions can help families feel ready to move forward, focused on what is most important.

These “Keep it simple” tips may also help nurture your glow of happiness this time of year:

  • Share ideas about how you want to “do” the holiday season this year. Don’t worry about decorating the house, baking, or buying gifts for everyone in your life. Remind yourself, “This is temporary. I can let that go, and it’s OK.”
  • ​Express the need for flexibility as you make social commitments. Decide not to isolate yourself during the holidays but plan a rest time each day, no exceptions.
  • Make room for your feelings, whatever they are. There’s nothing wrong with feeling angry, sad, or scared about how cancer is impacting your life.
  • Keep children informed. Children very much need to know about their loved one’s diagnosis, what’s likely to happen, and that sharing hugs is still OK. It’s best to explain things to children promptly and privately.
  • Give yourself the gift of “self-care” often. It’s amazing how much exercise, enough sleep, and proper nutrition can help reduce stress! Cancer treatment can sometimes feel like “all cancer, all the time.”
  • Keep in mind that spiritual renewal doesn’t require you to be physically energized. Dip into a book of short inspirational thoughts; attend a religious service. Finding spiritual meaning in the holidays is helpful, regardless of whether you meditate, belong to a religious organization, or read philosophy.
  • Take time to demonstrate the wisdom that the most precious gift we have is often our time together right now. Enjoy the moment!

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