Heading Toward the Holidays

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Heading Toward the Holidays

For those caring for a family member in treatment for cancer or another serious condition, the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day can be stressful and overwhelming.

Here are some ideas from Terry L. Irish, D.Min., board-certified chaplain in City of Hope’s Department of Supportive Care Medicine, to keep caregivers going during the holiday season.

Adjust your holiday faith traditions.

If taking care of someone keeps you from your usual holiday activities, give yourself permission to create new activities that are more convenient.

If your relative or friend is in the hospital at City of Hope during the holidays, you can call Spiritual Care Services at 626-256-4673, ext. 63898, for help in observing your spiritual or religious practices. Our Department of Clinical Social Work, 626-256-4673, ext. 62282, can provide information on resources in the community.

Conserve your energy.

Prioritize your activities and choose only the most important ones to help restore your spirit and renew your energy.

Celebrate with others.

However you celebrate, plan to include others. If big celebrations feel overwhelming or emotional, sit near an exit to make it easy to slip out and take a break.

Take care of your inner or spiritual self.

Regardless of your definition of spirituality, take the time to renew your inner spiritual resources. Taking care of yourself now means you’ll have more to offer others in the months ahead.

Establish reasonable expectations.

Be realistic about what you can accomplish and keep your focus on providing the best care possible to your loved one — while staying connected to your family and friends.

Think about the future.

Finally, write down some specific, realistic goals to care for yourself over the next year. You’ll feel good when you reach these goals, and they’ll help you keep a positive focus on your own well-being.

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