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The festive season can be difficult for people who have experienced a major change, a diagnosis of cancer 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.

That’s why our Cancer Council Nurses have provided 6 tips on ways to cope with cancer and grief during the festive season:

  1. Be prepared
    Have a plan in place for how to cope over the festive period. Plan ahead with appointments and medications and talk to specialists about any specific concerns you may have about the holidays and who to contact in case of side effects or symptoms.
  2. Ask for a hand
    Don’t be afraid to ask for help during this period if you’re going through a stressful and emotional time. Delegate tasks like shopping, cooking, and cleaning to someone else. This year you may not be able to do what you’ve always done in the past, and that’s OK.
  3. It’s OK to break tradition
    Keep in mind that as circumstances change, traditions and rituals can change as well. Why not try a new tradition in memory of someone who has died or think about what it is you love about this tradition and different ways you can incorporate these values into your holiday.
  4. Take time to rest
    The holidays can be emotionally and physically exhausting, often resulting in fatigue. Prioritise rest and don’t feel guilty about cancelling plans if you need to. Talk to your family and friends about what you need—let people know that you may need to keep activities simple and non-strenuous.
  5. Prioritise healthy habits
    Eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep can all help to manage the stress and emotions you may be feeling during this time. This may involve incorporating mindful meditation and relaxation into your self-care routine.
  6. Reach out for support
    It can be helpful to talk about how you’re feeling with a loved one or with one of our experienced Cancer Council Nurses on 13 11 20. You can also access support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

Want to be there for someone impacted by cancer this festive season?

Staying in hospital or receiving treatment for a cancer diagnosis during the holiday season can be a lonely experience for families. If you’re a loved one, you can help with these tips:

Extend a pair of helping hands – Prepare meals, help with household chores, offer to do a food shop or drive them to appointments.

Offer companionship – Keep a loved one company or just be there to listen without trying to solve their problems. Get out and about and talk about things other than cancer.

Stay in touch – Regular communication, in hospital or via social networks and video calls, can provide reassurance that they haven’t been forgotten and help them feel included in festive celebrations.

Bring the cheer to them – If visiting them in hospital or speaking isn’t an option, you might like to drop off or post small touches of the holiday season to inspire joy in their room. A note from Santa, a snow globe, or Christmas-inspired treats may just bring a smile to their face.