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Coping During the Holidays


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The Melanoma Research Foundation's CURE OM initiative offers Surviving and Thriving During the Holidays as a topic for the ocular melanoma support group meeting hosted in partnership with oncology social workers at Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson in Philadelphia, PA.

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Coping During the Holidays

  1. 1. Surviving and Thriving During the Holidays CURE OM Support Group December 7, 2016
  2. 2. 5 ways to keep the holidays happy when dealing with cancer 1. PRIORITIZE! Decide which traditions are most important to you and ditch the rest this year. Focus on quality, not quantity. Delay some visits until after the new year. 2. Communicate Communicate your wishes clearly with loved ones. What do you need to make things easier? What gifts would you appreciate most? What do you want to do? Set limits and remember, it is okay to say “no”! 3. Care for yourself (Caregivers, this means you too!) Take time for yourself, ask for help and know when to say no. Acknowledge that dealing with cancer may impact your holiday traditions. What can you control and what should you just let go of? Get enough rest and try to maintain a healthy diet to help boost your energy level. Christina Bach, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C 2/5-ways-keep-holidays-happy-dealing- cancer/ 2
  3. 3. 5 ways to keep the holidays happy when dealing with cancer 4. Validate your feelings Think about your feelings- how do you feel about the holidays and why do you feel this way? How does that influence your actions? Understanding these feelings can help you make decisions that support YOU. It is okay to not celebrate and your loved ones will (or should) understand. 5. Develop your elevator speech Think of some responses to the questions you often get in social situations. Have responses that deflect from the cancer – for example, “I am feeling good, how is school going for your son?” or “I had a rough month, but I’m doing a little better. How is your mom doing with her recovery? People feel obligated to ask or fear they appear insensitive, but if you redirect them, they are usually happy to talk about something else. If you think about responses ahead of time, you will find those interactions a little less uncomfortable. 12/8/2016 Christina Bach, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C 2/5-ways-keep-holidays-happy-dealing- cancer/ 3
  4. 4. Staying Grounded during the Holidays: Taking Yoga Off of the Mat • Calms the mind • Deep feeling of relaxation and balance • Can be done any place or any time • Give yourself the gift of “instant yoga” by practicing Fern Nibauer-Cohen 1/staying-grounded-during-the- holidays-taking-yoga-off-of-the-mat/ 4
  5. 5. Taking Yoga Off of the Mat • STANDING POSE – The next time you are in the middle of a busy mall and feel overwhelmed by the crowds, take a few second to ground yourself by standing with your feet hip’s distance apart, relaxing your shoulders and fixing your gaze straight ahead. Take a few release breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. This will reset your body and mind to allow you to continue with the remainder of your shopping! • ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING – If holiday shopping gives you a headache, try inhaling and exhaling through each nostril by closing off one nostril and breathing in to a count of 8 and exhaling out of the other nostril to a count of 16. Do a few rounds of this ancient yogic breathing practice slowly for relief of stress and anxiety. • SHOULDER ROLLS – If holiday shopping lines are driving you crazy and causing stress, draw your attention to your shoulders and take a nice, long inhale bringing your shoulders up to your ears, circle them back and down. While you are at it, circle your neck around a few times while inhaling and exhaling slowly. You will feel a renewed sense of calm. 1/staying-grounded-during-the- holidays-taking-yoga-off-of-the-mat/ 5
  6. 6. Taking Yoga Off of the Mat • LION’S POSE – If you have attended one too many office parties and get tired of talking, smiling and socializing, go to a quiet place and try this pose by opening up your mouth wide and sticking out your tongue. Making the sound of a roaring lion helps, too. Sounds funny, but this ancient pose is a great release for the facial muscles and really helps if you have been doing a lot of talking. • MEDITATE – The best way to get through the holiday season feeling happy, healthy and whole is starting each day with a few minutes of meditation. Just sitting silently with your eyes closed at any point during your day is very helpful to keep yourself in balance. Remember, it doesn’t have to be for a long period of time…even just one minute of silent meditation in the midst of a busy holiday season will go a long way! 12/8/2016 1/staying-grounded-during-the- holidays-taking-yoga-off-of-the-mat 6
  7. 7. Dealing with Financial Pressures • “Pollyanna” style gifts • Homemade gifts • Handwritten note • Donations to cancer organization • Financial assistance wish list • Know your budget and stick to it 12/8/2016 7
  8. 8. Travel tips • Have enough medication • Travel with Doctor’s contact information • Practice saying “No” • Pick a mutual location • Plan a route with built in breaks • Start a new tradition! 12/8/2016 8
  9. 9. Coping with Loss • Stages of Grief • Acknowledge your feelings • Get support • Forgive yourself • Join a support group • Forgive yourself • Give yourself a break from grief • Remember: each person experiences loss differently 12/8/2016 9
  10. 10. Coping with Loss • Prepare for the holidays; Strong feelings may resurface • Plan in advance: how do you want to spend your time? With whom? • Keep certain traditions or create new ones • Do something to honor the memory of a loved one • For children ages 3-18 Continue family traditions 12/8/2016 10
  11. 11. Coping as a Caregiver • Get organized! • Communication is key • Be flexible • Take time for yourself • Call on your team: 12/8/2016 11
  12. 12. Wrap-up: Coping Tips for Survivors and Caregivers • Establish realistic goals and expectations. Don't expect that everything will be perfect. • Delegate responsibilities to others. • Spend time with caring, nurturing, supportive people. • Plan ahead; allow extra time for travel and preparations. Be sure to get enough sleep. • Learn to say NO! People will understand. • Don't forget, regular exercise, even walking helps relieve stress and tension and helps to improve mood. • To minimize financial stressors, know your budget and stick to it. 12/8/2016 12