Community Shares: Tips for Mentally Surviving the Holidays with Advanced Breast Cancer Part 2

We all need a plan for the holidays. A healthy plan can be key to surviving the physical to-do lists of baking, decorating, and gift buying, along with safeguarding our mental and emotional well-being during the holiday season.

To learn more about how you plan on taking care of yourself this coming season, we reached out to community members on our Facebook page. We asked members to tell us: “What are some tips for getting through the holidays with metastatic breast cancer?”

More than 30 community members answered, and here is what was shared.

Try not to have any expectations

We all do it - We automatically have expectations about what the holidays should look like. However, expectations likely lead to disappointment. If you can, try to remind yourself that however, each day goes, it is OK. In each moment, you have everything you need. When you already start from a place of acceptance, you are more likely to remain free from expectations.

“No expectations that things go a certain way or look a certain way.”

Remind yourself of what you are grateful for

Yes, when you are living with advanced breast cancer, sometimes it is easy to feel sad. It is OK to be sad and to grieve the life you had, but you have a choice. When the holidays arrive, remember that you can choose to feel sad or be grateful. From time with friends and family to the beauty of freshly fallen snow and a hot, home-cooked meal, there is much to appreciate. Life is lived in the small moments, so any time you can bring yourself back to gratitude, you will enjoy the moments so much more.

“Just remaining grateful. I am grateful to be here and see another year of holidays.”

“Just be grateful. I get to have another holiday with my family.”

Staying present during the holiday season

We all struggle to stay in the present. Our minds naturally want to take us to the past, which can lead to depression, or the future, which can cause anxiety. The trick is to stay present now, which gives us the greatest chance at happiness. Taking long, deep, slow breaths is one of the best ways to get back in the moment. Being outside can also help us feel present. Going for a walk outside, going sledding, or even taking a drive to see holiday lights can work wonders.

“Enjoying the moments this year with my family.”

Show yourself some grace

When all is said and done, remember to show yourself some grace. In other words, show yourself the kindness that you would show your best friend or child. Fix yourself a cup of herbal tea or go to bed early if you are feeling exhausted, even if it might mean missing out on a holiday activity. As much as you can, try to find that balance of being social with people and taking care of yourself. Sometimes it helps to pause before saying yes or committing to something and asking yourself how you would feel after committing or declining the invite.

“So much grace for myself and for those around me.”

Thank you to everyone who shared their experiences for this story. We appreciate all of your suggestions, feedback, and support. Check out Part 1 of this article series on other ideas to help get through the holiday season, Tips for Surviving the Holidays.

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