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 breast cancer treatment or have just finished treatment. 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 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.
Give yourself a time out
If you are expected to host the holiday meal, but don’t think you can handle the responsibility, give yourself a “time out.” Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to keep up with your traditional duties. More times than not, people will understand if you ask them to bring a dish for the meal, have someone else host the meal, or suggest eating out at a restaurant if that’s in your budget. That said, don’t be pushed into celebrating by well-meaning friends and relatives if you are not in a cheerful mood. If you feel low emotionally or physically, you may want to postpone a family gathering, an outing with friends, or an office party. Give yourself permission not to join the festivities this year. There will be other opportunities to socialize.
Enlist the help of family/friends
Are you too tired for tasks such as shopping for gifts and cards, 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.
Perform a devotional act
This is whatever your religion or spiritual tradition practices. It could be a prayer of any kind as your beliefs dictate, dance, chant, swaying back and forth of the body, or perhaps a vow of silence (as brief or as long as you would like it to be).
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. 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.
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 inside (at an indoor track, mall or larger shopping center) or outside (be sure to wear appropriate outerwear if you live in a seasonal environment), listen to music and do gentle stretches, look for classes in your community that offer gentle yoga, water aerobics, tai chi or dancing. You can also work out videos at home as well.
There are many ways to meditate, but for the purpose of finding peace all you need to do is find a quiet place to sit where you won’t be interrupted or distracted (this could even be in your car), for a minimum of five minutes. It doesn’t matter how you sit, but try 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.
Don’t worry about next year.
Focus on this year and enjoy the here and now for all its simple pleasures and beauty.
Allow yourself simple pleasures.
Hot baths, naps, and favorite foods and drinks may help lift your mood. Of course, it’s important to eat as healthily as possible, but it’s okay to indulge.
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.