Tips for a Stress-free Holiday Season

Whether you’re currently going through treatment, recently finished treatment, you’re a long-term survivor, or living with metastatic breast cancer, let us think about the expectations and unique stressors you may face this holiday season. Let us appreciate the importance of self-love and understanding, because your health and well-being are more important than a picture perfect holiday.

To help cope with holiday-induced stress, we compiled a list of 7 tips and resources to help you have a low stress holiday. Share your favorites, and let us know what you do to reduce holiday stress in the comments below.

Stress-Free Holiday Tip #1: Me Time Is Even More Important This Time of Year

Paying attention to how you feel is even more important this time of year. Even if it’s for 30 minutes, block out time for yourself to address your needs.

Stress Free Holiday Tip #2: Being Strong Is Asking For Help

Your loved ones care about you and want to be there for you. Don’t feel like you have to do everything yourself. Build your circle of support with family and friends, and if they offer to help, let them. Supportive websites like Lotsa Helping Hands, Take Them a Meal and Care Pages make it easy to schedule meals, assist with daily chores and errands, organize rides to/from treatment, and help keep people updated.

Are you a co-survivor? Here are 15 ways you can help your loved one diagnosed with breast cancer.

If you’re having difficulty discussing certain topics or feelings with loved ones, don’t feel like you need to keep what you’re feeling in. Seek professional help. Healthcare providers, such as social workers or psychologists, make great objective listeners and can help you cope. Learn more about the relationship between mental health and breast cancer and what role psychological treatment can play in your breast cancer treatment plan.

Stress-Free Holiday Tip #3: It's Okay To Say No

With the holiday season often comes a seemingly countless number of invitations for holiday parties and events. Don’t feel like you have to participate in everything or accept every invitation you receive. Say yes to the people and events that are important to you, and remember, you are more important than any party.

Stress Free Holiday Tip #4: Focus On One Thing At A Time

Studies have shown that multitasking is not as effective as originally thought and can increase stress levels. Slow down, and try to focus on one thing at a time. Remember to stay flexible. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t get everything done or you need to adjust your routine/schedule.

Stress-Free Tip #5: Find What Brings You Joy

A breast cancer diagnosis often comes with a mix of emotions for the person diagnosed (and their co-survivors). It’s important to find a way to tap into what you’re feeling and find an activity that allows you to express emotions that may be difficult to convey. YSC Summit 2016 Speaker, Ali Schaffer, LCSW discussed letting your creativity flow by connecting with your inner creative goddess. For some, writing, dance or other art therapy helps them combat stress, while others find solace in spending time outdoors or getting active. Below is a small list of activities to help you find one that brings you comfort and joy.

Get Creative: use writing, dance, theater, photography or painting/drawing as art therapy to help you reduce stress or distract you from an upcoming medical treatment or visit to the doctor.

Get Active: exercise is a great way to lower stress levels and deal with menopausal changes and/or medication side effects. A short walk around the block or a quiet yoga session can sometimes do the trick. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the best exercises for you.

Get Outside: nature walks, listening to the ocean or enjoying the crisp fall air can be therapeutic and help increase relaxation.

Stress Free Holiday Tip #6: Know Your Holiday Stress-Points

Take a moment to think about your holiday stress points and how you want to handle them. Write down a list of topics or questions that have upset you in the past, and brainstorm responses that will help minimize holiday tension or awkward moments. Discuss your concerns with your co-survivors, and practice your responses. Here’s a list of questions to help you get started:

 – What topics do I not want to discuss?

 – What questions do I not want to answer?

 – Are there certain family members or friends who have upset me in the past?

 – Why did the conversation upset me? What questions did they ask?

Stress-Free Holiday Tip #7: Be Present

It can be easy to get caught up in holiday festivities and expectations for grand gestures or gifts. Allie Vreeland reminded us of the importance of living the life you want and focusing on the now. Try to be present in the moment, and use this holiday season to focus on favorite family traditions and to create special memories with your loved ones.

For young women living with metastatic breast cancer, these favorite traditions and special experiences can help you create a unique legacy for you and your loved ones. Join us at our Living and Leaving a Legacy half day retreat at the 2018 National Summit in Orlando, FL.

Stress-Free Holiday Tip #8: You are Never Alone

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and alone this holiday season, remember, YSC is a community, and we’re always here to help. If you haven’t done so already, now is the perfect opportunity to tap into our resources and find the support you need.
 – Want to talk with someone 1:1? Try our peer mentoring program, SurvivorLink.
 – Want to meet in-person with other young survivors? See if there is a Face 2 Face Network near you or learn how you can start your own today!
 – Want to chat online? Our Online Video Support Groups meet once a month.
 – Want a specific question answered? Our Discussion Boards and Private Facebook Group offer a wide range of conversations about hot topics and issues.

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