This time of year is different from no other except that the season can fill up with social obligations, expectations and general stress. We’re all busy, but we can choose to focus on the human being part of ourselves rather than the human doing.
For cancer survivors and their co-survivors, taking steps to treat yourself with gentleness is important to maintain a sense of peace.
Cliff Notes to Self-Care During the Holidays
CancerCare offers some wisdom we could all use. Here’s the cliff notes version: create new traditions which honor the energy you have, take advantage of online holiday shopping, spend time with those by whom you feel loved and supported and plan ahead.
I would add it’s also okay to say no. Energy and emotional levels can and do change. You might have agreed to something on a day you felt great. When that day arrived, maybe you feel differently.
If you need permission to say no, here it is: it’s okay to change your mind. It’s okay to do things differently and ask for help. It’s okay to do both of these things spontaneously and at the last minute. Others may not like these changes and that’s okay.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute offers similar advice:
Pay attention to how you feel. While you might be surrounded with holiday music (which stores have been playing since late-October), you may feel reflective and introspective.
Don’t pressure yourself to put on a happy face and beat to the drum of others. That can be exhausting and produce a lot of anxiety.
Pay attention to what your body’s telling you. If you decide to go to a holiday gathering and feel good at 10 a.m. but your energy tanks at 2 p.m., it’s okay to not to go. You are more important than the party, even if it’s hosted by your best friend.
Keep things simple. If you are someone who normally bakes for the neighbors and the mail carrier, maybe this year you can ask your friends to bake for you. They can deliver those delicious treats on your behalf. This turns out to be a “two-fer.” Friends who ask “what can I do” are taken seriously and given a job, and you see an important tradition honored. Meanwhile, you’re not exhausting your precious energy.
Me” time is even more important this time of year. Even if it’s just for 30 minutes, honor taking those moments to restore and rest.
The Gifts of Care and Compassion
Whether or not you’ve tapped into YSC’s resources, now is a wonderful time to lean in to them.
Want to talk with someone 1:1? Try Peer Mentors.
Want to meet in-person with other young survivors? See if there is a F2F group near you.
Prefer to chat online? Our private Facebook group offers support from a large community of breast cancer survivors.
I know we’ve all heard some version of these suggestions in one form or another. I encourage you to test out a few of them and see what happens. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, and, who knows, you might just give yourself a gift!