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Living with Cancer: 5 Tips to Keep Holiday Stress Under Wraps

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living with cancer? here's 5 ways to lessen holiday stress MonkeyBusiness Images/PhotoSpin

The winter holidays are filled with shimmering celebrations, generations of tradition, unforgettable foods, reuniting with friends and family, and for some, a range of emotions that could have you questioning if you should ask your doctor to prescribe anti-anxiety medications.

Welcome to one of the most stressful times of the year.

At one time or another we’ve all felt the added stress the holidays bring: an unusually full social calendar, the decorating, cooking, shopping, wrapping, cleaning, the organizing, and worry about creating that perfect experience family and friends will talk about for years to come.

When you or a loved one has cancer, the holiday season can heighten an already challenging and emotional situation. But it doesn’t have to, says Sarah Reed, MPH, MSW, LICSW at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and a member of the LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center of Excellence Network.

Reed says there’s no right way to celebrate the holidays, so don’t be afraid to reframe your expectations, acknowledge your situation is different this year, and find what works for you.

Here are five tips to help you keep unnecessary holiday stress under wraps.

1. Keep it simple.

You may be known for the best holiday decorations on the block or for distributing goodie bags to all the neighbors, but if that seems overwhelming this year, acknowledge that you just don’t feel up to it and give yourself permission to be okay with that.

Instead of doing it all, “pick one or two special traditions and ask family and friends for help. Some families even create new traditions when a loved one is going through treatment. Instead of a big holiday party, try planning a small potluck dinner and have everyone pitch in,” says Reed.

2. Listen to your body.

Fatigue is the most common side effect of cancer treatment, so it’s important to balance activity with rest.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.