The holiday season is traditionally the time to celebrate, gather with friends and unite with family, but cancer patients know with compromised immune systems, and this year with COVID-19, it can make everything more complex. Cancer survivors and those undergoing cancer treatment may be feeling even further “out of step” than usual, which can lead to concern about how to navigate the season.
Here are some tips from our patient navigators for taking care of your body, mind and spirit this holiday season:
Remember the basics of self-care
It’s important to maintain a routine even through the holidays. Take extra measures to take care of your body, including maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet, exercising daily and getting plenty of sleep.
Connect with your friends and family through technology
The holidays are usually a joyous time spent in the company of loved ones, so it’s important to stay connected with your friends and family in this uncertain season. Give them a call or FaceTime, talk through text or connect via social media. If you experience extreme effects from isolation and feel overwhelmed, you can call the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at (800) 985-5990. This helpline is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling helpline to support people experiencing emotional distress and can link you to resources. Also, feel free to contact the Cancer Center with any questions or support needed.
Remaining mindful can help ease anxiety and depression. Mindfulness meditation is the very simple process of sitting still and focusing your attention on your breathing. By carefully noticing each inhale and exhale, your scattered thoughts quickly become focused on your body and your nervous system can relax. Yoga helps to ease the physical and mental discomfort that is caused by anxiety, as well as enhance your overall mood and sense of well-being. Other ways to practice mindfulness include managing your thoughts and feelings by focusing on what you can control and remembering simple things like humor, art, nature and music.
Create a new holiday tradition
Holiday traditions are some of the best ways to spend time with your loved ones. This year, starting a new holiday tradition can help with maintaining your routine while also trying something new. Holiday traditions can range from decorating a new ornament each year to calling or video chatting with those who aren’t able to be together.
Set aside some downtime
The holiday season can be hectic, so it’s important to take time to relax and spend time with yourself. Turn off your phone, go outside or just sit in silence for a few minutes to reduce stress and decompress from the day. Another way to unwind is to try some breathing exercises or create a safe space in your mind to help ease tension and stress.
The Cancer Center provides supportive services such as patient navigators or social workers at no cost, thanks to the generosity of donors. If you would like to speak to someone from one of these teams, please contact them today.
Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center: (225) 215-1126
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Gonzales: (225) 644-1205
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Covington: (985) 875-2234
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Hammond: (225) 215-1508
Mary Bird Perkins TGMC Cancer Center: (225) 215-2124
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Natchez: (225) 215-2311