It’s the time of year for family, friends, and celebrations. But when you’re coping with cancer, it can be hard to find joy in this season. The winter holidays are challenging because they come on the heels of Christmas and New Year’s Day, both times that people often experience higher stress levels. So it’s important to balance coping with the demands and pressures of your health while still enjoying all that this festive time has to offer.

Avoid Too Much Responsibility

First off, try not to take on too much responsibility in your personal or professional life over the next few weeks because that will only add more stress. Avoid tasks that lead to stress, such as cooking, shopping, or entertaining. Remember that there are not too many rules to holiday festivities — celebrate in a way that allows you to focus on yourself and your health first.

Planning is Key

Plan ahead, so there are no surprises during the festivities. Whether you are a host or traveling far, this will allow you to stay calm if something doesn’t go as planned. Pace yourself and scale back if you feel your energy dropping.

Don’t Be Afraid to Communicate

It can be daunting to see your friends and family for the first time since your treatment, but you don’t have to be afraid to hide this big change in your life. In addition to all the physical discomfort from treatments and fear of relapse, many people feel uneasy about how their loved ones will react to hearing the news that they have cancer. Reach out to your family and friends beforehand to let them know; be open about how you’re feeling and let them know how they can help during this holiday season.

Create New Traditions

Rather than focusing on old traditions that may not be in your comfort zone anymore, consider creating and adapting to new practices that focus on your wellbeing. From virtual games to new meal habits, these often lead to new, fun memories that you will cherish forever as well.

Listen to Yourself

No one knows you better than yourself. If you feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to be kind to yourself. It’s important to find ways to enjoy your holidays and have fun with the family while still coping with the realities of being diagnosed. Figure out what feels good for you during this challenging time in your life. Then, permit yourself to enjoy what’s happening around you.

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