The holidays are upon us and the last thing you want to be thinking about is cancer. As you prepare to join in on the festivities, here are a few tips from Ellis Fischel social worker Christina Penn.
Conserve your energy: Save some energy by shopping for gifts and groceries online. Not only will you escape the stress of the busy stores, you'll also protect your immune system. Internet ordering resources can provide many energy-saving conveniences when you plan ahead.
Prioritize: Prioritize what you need and want to do; there are only so many hours in a day. Always listen to your body and know your limits. If cooking grandma's famous pumpkin pie is a favorite tradition of yours, go for it – maybe a different tradition can take the year off. Who knows, you might even find some new traditions along the way!
Delegate: It can be hard to pass off responsibilities. Focus on your needs and enjoyment even if it means letting someone else take over the bulk of the holiday preparations. Redistributing responsibilities could allow for more energy for enjoying time with your family.
Keep on track with your meds: Regardless of if you're traveling or staying local this winter, make sure you have medication refills and are staying on track with your medication schedule. Check your pharmacy's schedule for any holiday closings or special hours. If you're having trouble taking your medication on time, try setting a reminder alarm on your phone or create a checklist system to help you stay on track.
Be honest: Are there certain smells that make you nauseated, or are you just too tired to do a certain activity? Be open and honest with your family and friends about what you need and what you can and can't do. They want to help. Let them.
Set your expectations: This year, the holidays might be different, but that doesn't mean they have to be called off. Participate in family traditions when you can, and don't feel bad if you can't attend every gathering.
Enjoy and savor: Whatever happens, try to take a few opportunities to pause and soak in the moment. Enjoy spending time to yourself and with loved ones. Appreciate the little things and enjoy what you can as often as you can.
If you're grieving
Not everyone grieves and expresses sadness and stress in the same way. Whether you're adjusting to your illness or mourning a loss, remind yourself that it is ok to be sad. Decide what is the most meaningful and comfortable way for you to express yourself and do it. Know that it's ok to take a break, and go with what feels right.
Ellis Fischel Cancer Center’s social workers provide support, assistance and resource referral to patients and their families. To talk to one of our social workers contact Patient and Family Services management at 573-884-1509.