Feeling a little ‘bah humbug’ about the holidays this year? The expectation to deck the halls and be jolly is overwhelming, especially when you’re going through cancer treatment, just finished treatment, battling a chronic illness, or struggling with mental health. The last thing you feel like doing is being jolly, and it may seem like others don’t understand why you can’t be joyous during this time of year. It’s okay to feel this way. Everyone has the right to their own feelings, but it’s important to express them by telling others how you feel or by writing them down in a journal. Here are some tips from Cancer Care and The American Cancer Society on how to cope during the holidays:
It’s okay to feel sad
You may feel sad about the year that has gone by and that’s okay. Express those feelings. Tears can bring a sense of relief. It is common to experience a mixture of anticipation, disappointment, and apprehension about the future. Try not to suppress your feelings. Instead, talk them over with a loved one, a friend, or a professional counselor. Accept yourself as you experience your emotions. Respect your own timetable, and don’t rush yourself with any healing.
Enlist the help of family/friends
Are you too tired for tasks such as shopping, or standing in line at the post office to mail packages? If so, enlist the help of a friend or family member, shop online, or use mail order catalogs this year. There are also other ways to let others know that you are thinking about them such as writing a short note or making a phone call. You can always send them a card or gift later if you so desire. Besides, buying things will not make up for any negative feelings you are having.
Journal your feelings
Grab a notebook and write down how you feel. Don’t worry about proper grammar or punctuation or having a fancy notebook. Just grab some paper or a notebook and write. It can be in any color of pen or pencil you’d like. Sometimes just writing down your feelings or an awkward situation is extremely beneficial. You could also write as if you are addressing someone or something, like your cancer. It can help you process your thoughts. Be sure to find a private place to keep your writings if you don’t want anyone to see them, or some people even find it therapeutic to get rid of the writings after letting it all out.
If you are able and your doctor gives you the green light to do so, exercise! Research has shown that adding moderate exercise to your daily routine can actually improve your physical health, reduce stress, release tension and improve quality of life. You can go for a walk outside (be sure to wear appropriate outerwear if you live in a seasonal environment), listen to music and do gentle stretches or find workout videos to do at home.
There are many ways to meditate, but for the purpose of finding peace, all you need to do is sit for a minimum of five minutes in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted or distracted. It doesn’t matter how you sit, but try to maintain the natural curve of your back. Close your eyes, and breathe deeply inhaling with your nose and exhaling from your mouth. Don’t force your breathing. Let it come naturally. You may find the breathing exercise helps you feel calmer and more relaxed. You can focus your attention on just your breathing or focus on a positive or relaxing thought while you breathe. There are also guided meditations on YouTube or Spotify that can be helpful.
Don’t worry about next year
Focus on this year and enjoy the here and now for all its simple pleasures and beauty. Think about something good that happened this year, or remind your loved ones how you feel about them to focus on something positive.
Allow yourself simple pleasures
Hot baths, naps, and favorite foods and drinks may help lift your mood. Re-watch an old movie that makes you laugh, or share some memories when talking to a loved one.
Originally published on 11/24/2010
Updated by Fight Like A Girl on 12/9/2020
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.