Battling the Holiday Blues

Holiday Decor

As the holidays come around, you may not be celebrating like in years past. As a patient, you may be forced to structure the holidays differently to accommodate to your needs. As a caregiver, you may need to take extra time and plan out the days to make sure you and your loved one are comfortable around family and friends. And, if you are bereaved, you may be painfully grieving more so than other time of the year. Regardless of which role you fall into, there can be one underlying emotion in differing intensities: the holiday blues.

The pressure to put on the facade of happiness is taxing and draining. During the holidays, a prototype of what happiness is supposed to look like is everywhere. On TV, walking down the street, in the grocery store, and in the mall, we are bombarded with images of families laughing and being jovial, taking part in holiday festivities. When struck with these images constantly, it can be easy to compare your own activities to these. These comparisons do not make you feel better. Feeling ill, watching your loved one battle their sickness, or feelings of loneliness can make it extremely difficult to whole-heartedly take part in holiday celebrations. And, that’s okay.

Often, the holidays are used to reflect on the past year, what you have accomplished, and what you wish to do moving forward in the new year. However, when the year consisted of experiencing diagnosis, going through the trauma of treatment, mourning the loss of a loved one, or feeling isolated from friends and family, this reflection can be painful and difficult to process. Looking forward can also be challenging, because the coming year may be filled with enormous uncertainty.

When battling the holiday blues, the most important aspect to remember is that you should stay in tune with your emotions. Talk to another person and share your grief, worries, and challenges. Make plans based on what you and/or your loved one is comfortable doing. Speak with your medical team to see if there are strategies to maximize your loved one’s sense of well-being during the holiday season. Perhaps rescheduling a treatment is appropriate, or limiting follow up appointments until after the holiday. Put your needs first, and listen to your body. Manage your expectations, and take care of your emotions during difficult moments of the day. Above all, recognize that it is normal to feel some level of the holiday blues during the season, and that you are not alone.

If you are a caregiver or a patient, this IMPACT page with holiday tips may be useful for you. You can also look at this IMPACT page about feeling isolated. In addition, you can join the Facebook and telephone support groups, separate for caregivers and patients, for additional support. Visit curemeso.org/support to learn more.

If you are bereaved, you can join one of our bereaved Facebook groups for additional support. If you are a bereaved spouse, considering calling in on December 25th to our telephone support group to be with other individuals experiencing similar emotions. Visit curemeso.org/support or contact Jadmin Mostel at jmostel@curemeso.org for information about support groups.

Additional articles to read on this subject:
When the Holidays Trigger Depression
Cancer and the Holiday Blues

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