An estimated 10 percent of the population suffers from holiday depression to some degree. It may be one or many things that contribute to the holiday blues, especially coping with a cancer diagnosis. For individuals with a chronic condition, you may still feel sick and the pressure to be jovial can be difficult to deal with. It can be helpful if the you let those close to you know that the holiday season will not cure your disease or take away symptoms.
If you cancer diagnosis is new, you may not feel like joining in all the usual festivities and parties because they are so out of sync with how you are feeling. If you find yourself in this situation, ask your host for understanding if you decline the invitation.
If your cancer diagnosis was long ago and those negative feelings long forgotten, the holiday season can still be quite stressful or bring about holiday blues. The following suggestions are given to reduce stress, maintain health, and lessen the holiday blues:
Keep your plans realistic:
- Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Make a list and prioritize the most important activities.
- Let go of the past. Don't be disappointed if your holidays are not like they use to be. Each holiday season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way. Do not set yourself up for sadness by thinking everything has to be like the good old days. Don't be afraid to try something new.
- You don't have to do it all or prepare it all. Make cooking and entertaining a team effort. Scale down menus.
- Consider deleting or delegating some of the activities you have accumulated over the years.
- Schedule with the real world in mind--not as you would like it to be.
- Don't wear yourself thin by trying to find the perfect gift for everyone, plan the ideal meal or host the biggest party.
- Be realistic in your expectation for family or friend's gatherings. People do not change just for the holidays. Some of the same everyday problems will still be there.
- Keep spending and gift buying within your budget. Facing credit card bills in January can depress nearly anyone. Set a limit on spending. Some families pick a name out of a hat and buy for just one person.
Be good to yourself:
- Enjoy Christmas treats and feasts, but do so in moderation. If you indulge in high calories one day, limit yourself to low calorie fruits and vegetables the next day.
- Do not abandon your healthy habits. Continue exercising and eating healthy. Eating healthy, nutritious meals will keep your energy levels high.
- Don't drink too much alcohol. It might slow you down the next day and has lots of empty calories.
- Spend time with people who are supportive and who care about you. Contact someone with whom you've lost touch.
- Get enough sleep.
UI Cancer Information Services