Take care of yourself, prioritize self-care and know your limits.
- Recognize the physical and emotional stress attending gatherings may create. It is perfectly acceptable and appropriate to modify your plans to make time for adequate rest.
- Focus on balanced meals, avoid excesses and make time for light exercise to reduce stress.
- Self-care is an essential part of maintaining well-being and managing stress. Allow time for self-care activities you enjoy such as reading, listening to music, crafting or taking a bath.
Express yourself and ask for support.
- Remember it is normal to experience feelings of sadness over how cancer may have changed your holiday season. Be patient, compassionate and gentle with yourself.
- Though it may be uncomfortable expressing these normal feelings with family, friends or a helpful professional, do it anyway. You might also consider joining a support group.
- Accept the help of family and friends eager to support you. You may be surprised how much this can ease stress.
For families of cancer patients, follow your loved one’s lead.
- Be flexible with traditions and expectations. Be mindful your loved one might not be up for usual holiday obligations and festivities.
- Volunteer to assist with activities like holiday shopping, cooking, or wrapping gifts.
- Most importantly, be there to listen to and support your loved one with cancer.
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey offers support services for cancer patients and families, including stress management. Learn about our Patient Support Services program. https://www.cinj.org/education/caregiving.
Rosemarie Slirzewski, MSW, LCSW, is the interim director of social work at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.