Finding Tranquility and Well-being During the Holidays while Coping with Cancer

The holidays can be filled with celebrations and time spent with loved ones, but even in the best circumstances, it’s easy to feel overextended and anxious. Finding the balance between self-care and participation can put the focus on good health and cheer while managing the emotional and physical demands of cancer care.

Minnesota Oncology offers these tips to help navigate the season:

Keep Communication Open

Shared holiday experiences can keep spirits high, but it’s okay to decline invitations in lieu of rest and self-comfort during a hectic period. Let friends and family know that while you may need more downtime, it’s okay for them to embrace and enjoy the season. If you keep communication open and honest, everyone will have reasonable expectations about how best to enjoy the holidays together.

Peace of Mind

Maintain routines that keep you feeling positive and refreshed:

  • Set aside time for low-impact exercises such as walking, yoga, or tai chi.
  • Use daily meditation to instill a sense of harmony.
  • Practice breathing techniques. The simple box breath is a great way to regulate a busy mind and nervous system: inhale, hold, exhale, and hold for 4 counts at each step, and repeat until a sense of calm returns.

Rethink Traditions and Chores

Reimagine your rituals to help alleviate stress points:

  • Share favorite recipes and ask each guest to prepare a dish for your holiday meal rather than undertaking all the cooking and hosting duties. Consider foods that will be easy to eat and digest when planning a menu and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses by avoiding lightly cooked or raw foods, unpasteurized dairy products, or unwashed fruits or vegetables.
  • Make everything a pajama party. Choose comfort and easy conversation over more formal attire or orchestrated events.
  • Minimize your to-do list by shopping online or suggesting the Secret Santa approach to gifting.
  • Utilize delivery services. Most retailers, restaurants, and grocers offer online shopping and delivery. Even trees can be delivered to your door, “pre-lit” or live.
  • Keep decorating simple. Light candles and use music, throws, and pillows to create a warm environment.

Holiday Entertaining

It’s important to maintain a strong immune system. Remind friends that you may be more susceptible to flu and other viruses, and delay visiting if anyone is unwell.


Most people with cancer can travel without issue, but getting medical clearance from your doctor is advisable before deciding to fly. Some airports can be large and challenging to traverse, especially during the holidays. If you require extra support for security screenings, call TSA Cares at 855-787-2227 for flights departing within 72 hours, or sign up for a TSA Notification Card. You will not be exempted from screenings, but accommodations for greater privacy can be made. Airlines are also happy to provide wheelchair service to and from your gate, between connecting flights, and to baggage claim. Request special assistance when booking your trip.






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