The festive season can be difficult for people who have experienced a major change or loss in their life. Feelings of loneliness, isolation and sadness are common and traditions such as Christmas can be painful reminders of how different life has become.
To help, we've put together some tips for coping with cancer over the festive season:
- It's important to be flexible about the way you celebrate Christmas - trying to maintain traditions that aren't practical during this time of your life can create stress for yourself and others.
- If you like to give gifts, consider online shopping and/or gift vouchers to help save both time and energy or give your shopping list to a friend or family member.
- Introduce a family "Secret Santa" because buying just one gift can be a great initiative if energy is low or finances tight.
- Book lunch or dinner at a restaurant, arrange a picnic at a local park, or ask people to bring a contribution to the meal.
- Keep activities simple and non-strenuous and allow for rest time during the day.
- Plan ahead and know who to contact if you have a problem, this can help to reduce anxiety. It's also important to make sure you have enough prescription medicine for this time as pharmacies may have amended opening hours.
- If you are having treatment over this period, consider having a low-key day on December 25 and plan a celebration at the end of treatment.
- Tell your loved ones how you're feeling, rather than pretending to be strong. By letting them know how you feel, they're able to show their support.
- The first year after a loved one passing away can be hard as you're faced with many significant events without them for the first time. Be gentle with yourself - get through the festive season the best way you can and remember Christmas doesn't have to be perfect!
- Mood swings and feelings of loss are common over this time. Allow yourself some time to grieve and reflect.
- Remember - this Christmas doesn't signify how the rest of your Christmases will be. This is just how things are at this time in your life.
One of the most important things to remember is that you don't have to go it alone. Talking to someone about what you're feeling can really help. Family and friends are a great source of support and can be very understanding.
But sometimes, you might prefer to speak to someone anonymously. For confidential cancer-related information and support, contact our experienced Cancer Nurses on 13 11 20. The normal hours of service for 13 11 20 are Monday to Friday from 9am - 5pm.
Over the 2017 Christmas break, these will be altered to:
Support available outside these hours:
• LIFELINE 24 hours 13 11 14
• CRISIS CARE 24 hours 9223 1111
• SAMARITANS 24 hours 9381 5555