Facing a New Year with Serious Illness

On the eve of a new decade, with a little luck, the atmosphere around home is one of positive anticipation.  Maybe it’s been a rough few years and the next chapter is looking brighter but for some, the passing of another year brings uncertainty.  And for those dealing with a serious illness themselves or with a close loved one, the holiday season can bring added stress and emotional turmoil.

With a growing “less is more” attitude among people, this year might be a perfect time to allow a few labor-intensive traditions to take a back seat.  It’s ok to not be cheerful just because it’s New Year’s Eve or any other significant holiday and it’s also ok to take pleasure in activities that bring a little joy, whether it’s a cheesy movie with friends, a warm bath or hockey game. 

According to the American Cancer Society, accepting help with meals or clean up after the holidays can help lighten the load for caregivers or adults with a serious illness.  Giving yourself permission to express your feelings or decline invitations that add to stress are healthy tools to help navigate the remainder of the holiday season.  Eating nutritious meals, getting some exercise and avoiding too much alcohol can also stave off negative feelings or at least not make things worse. 

By planning ahead, adjusting expectations and accepting that traditions may change, smaller celebrations can be enjoyable.  Loved ones and hosts can help support the needs of a sick friend or family member by asking about dietary needs, offering a quiet place to rest if needed or helping provide respite to a caregiver who may be feeling overwhelmed. 

For more strategies for managing the rest of the season, follow this link to breastcancer.org.