It is not abnormal to feel like your usual holiday cheer has been overshadowed by incongruent feelings. Here are the Brain Tumor Buzz’s top ten helpful hints to ease the process… “Before you call the whole season off.”
1. Normalcy is Good – This is especially important when you feel so detached from your normal holiday cheer or excitement. The goal this year is to find a new normal, while honoring family tradition.
2. Create a New Normal – Participate in the usual holiday festivities that you feel up to, but do not feel obligated. This is also a great time to institute those new holiday traditions that you have been pining over for the last five years.
3. Do Not Isolate-Even though you may not be in a celebratory mood. Do not avoid the holidays. Most people do find relief in participating in some holiday activities. It is healthy to be around others, and can help you to feel supported.
4. Allow Others to Offer Support – Many people do not know how to respond when someone they know and love has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Allow others to help in their own way. Some are good at cooking, others like to clean, shop, or decorate. These activities can be a big help during this busy time of year. Remember, people would not offer if they did not want to help. Do not feel like you are burdening them. This allows them to feel supportive and helpful to you.
5. Be Respectful-Try to discuss the holidays ahead of time. This will allow caregivers to plan appropriately for parties, presents, and decorating. As caregivers, we help from the heart, but not always the mind. Be respectful of decorating, cooking, and other planning. These activities can be very emotional for someone with a brain tumor, and may be more upsetting then good.
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6. Express Yourself-Brain tumors require multifaceted treatments, which often include mood altering agents. Steroids and other medications have a nasty way of wreaking havoc on normally pleasant people. This can become very overwhelming quickly in combination with the normal stress that accompanies the holidays. Therefore, it is important to allow for happiness, sadness, and every emotion in between. Emotions and crying are normal and facilitate the healing process. Remember, mood fluctuations in individuals with brain tumors are normal. Do not take them personally.
7. Set Your Own Pace-Brain tumors often bring aphasia or other speech difficulties. Remember that crowds may be too overwhelming for your loved one. Try to arrange smaller group gatherings if possible. Provide frequent breaks or limit visits to avoid frustration. Make a signal together so that they can discreetly inform you when they need a break.
8. Rest and Relax-Remember, it is important to take care of yourself first. Do not overdue it. Let your body and mind direct your activities, and remember to take a break. Try shopping from home this year or allow others to shop for you.
9. Protect Yourself – This is an important message to patients and caregivers alike. Many germs come with all of those holiday visitors and their goodies. Do not be afraid to set boundaries with others, and limit visitors. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments rely on healthy recipients. Lastly, stay away from the buffet. This is a breading ground for germs from dirty hands, and from food that is often not properly refrigerated.
10. Cooking Caveats – The chemotherapy and radiation that accompany brain tumor treatment often like to bring their naughty friends nausea and vomiting to dinner. Try cooking when your loved one is at appointments if possible or while he or she is sleeping. Have food catered or allow family members to do the cooking for you. Eating out is another option, but beware of germs. Food served cold is also more palatable for some. Avoid foods that are too spicy or bland, depending on your needs. Eating with plastic utensils can help decrease the metallic taste that some people experience.
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