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The holidays are a time to celebrate, rejoice, and renew connections with family and friends. However, the season can be a stressful time if you are coping with cancer. Rather than being a time of family togetherness, sharing and thanksgiving, holidays can bring mixed feelings of sadness and joy. The additional strain of the holidays can create overwhelming pressure when you may already be experiencing stress related to the illness.
Following are some key points to consider as you plan for the holidays:
Plan Ahead – Decide ahead of time which family traditions you want to participate in and which ones you may consider putting on hold this year. Well-meaning friends and family often try to prescribe what is good for you during the holidays. Do what is right for YOU. Instead of going along with their plans, focus on what you want to do. As you make your plans, however, leave room to change them if you feel it is appropriate.
Create New Traditions – Make the most of your energy by creating new holiday traditions that will relieve yourself of some of the pressures of the holiday. Have a “pot-luck,” have someone else host, or suggest eating out at a restaurant. Some traditions are comforting, but if not, consider establishing some new traditions. Try to keep the holiday planning and traditions simple.
Perform At Your Ability – Accept your limitations and do not beat yourself up for not doing the things you think you “ought” to do. Be gentle with yourself, allow for fluctuations in your mood and energy. Respect what your body and mind are telling you.
Ask For Help – Reach out to others for help with shopping, baking, preparing meals and wrapping presents. Do not hesitate to be specific about how others can help. It may be difficult for you to accept and receive help. Remember that those who care greatly for you have a need and desire to be helpful. You can meet their needs by allowing them to help.
Simplify Shopping – Use mail order catalogues, shop over the telephone or through the Internet. Make a shopping list ahead of time and shop when you have the energy. Try not to shop during peak hours and bring someone with you.
Communicate Your Feelings With Your Loved Ones – Talking about your wishes for the holidays will help you clarify what it is you desire. As you become aware of your needs, share them with your family and friends. The holidays may affect other family members as well. Talk over your plans with them and respect their choices and needs, and compromise if necessary.
Time For Reflection - During the holidays, you may find a renewed sense of faith or discover a new set of beliefs. Spend time reflecting about the meaning and purpose of your life. The combination of a holiday and dealing with an illness naturally results in looking inward and assessing your individual situation. Make the best use of this time to define the positive things in life that surround you.
Stillwaters understands the importance of embracing the joy and happiness of the holiday as well as how the holiday season can make you feel out of step with the rest of the world. The professional counselors at Stillwaters can help you cope with cancer during the holidays and all year long. Stillwaters Cancer Support Services is a community-based, not-for-profit organization providing supportive services for cancer patients, family & friends and survivors. Stillwaters promotes healing of the whole person; mind, body and spirit. All Stillwaters’ services are offered at no cost to anyone affected by cancer.
For more information:
262-548-9148 OR www.stillwaterscenter.org
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