Simplifying the Holidays


For many, December marks the beginning of holiday festivities that last the whole month long. In the best of times, the holidays can be stressful; when you have cancer, they can be absolutely overwhelming. Here are seven tips to balance the challenges and maintain the true spirit of the season.

1. Look Back

Before you head into the holidays, think about past celebrations. What was on your to-do list in previous years? What brought you happiness? What caused you stress? Strike anything from your list that didn’t add joy.

2. Keep It Simple

You don’t have to forego all the trappings of the holidays, but you do need to choose wisely. Focus on the one or two traditions that matter most to you. This may mean decorating just a corner of your home rather than decking the halls or making one special recipe instead of a multi-course meal.

3. Ask for Help

The people in your life usually want to help, but may not know what you need. Reach out to family and friends with specific requests. Entrust someone with your gift list or ask for help with wrapping or decorating. People are often flattered to be asked and happy to pitch in.

4. Give from the Heart

The simplest gifts are often the most meaningful. Draw names so each person has one carefully chosen gift. Write a personal note to loved ones or print a picture of a favorite time together. Double the blessing by making a donation in a family member’s name to his or her favorite charity.

5. Eat Well and Wisely

Most holiday fare, including sweets and spirits, doesn’t follow the principles of sound nutrition. Now more than ever, it’s important to avoid sugar, alcohol and caffeine and concentrate on foods that build health and strength. Instead of one large meal, try to eat several small meals to maintain your energy.

6. Respect Your Limits

The reality is that cancer doesn’t take time off during the holidays. You may be tired from treatment or feel unwell from side effects and stress. Pace yourself, get plenty of rest and prioritize your needs. Be honest with others about your limits – your loved ones will understand.

7. Take Joy

The holidays, at their essence, are a time for renewing relationships, being thankful and sharing gifts with others. Savor the sweetness of simple celebrations and take joy in time with those you love most. You’ll make memories for years to come.