Coping with Holiday Stress & Anxiety: Tips for Those with Mesothelioma

Cancer & Caregiving

Well, it’s that time of year again. The holidays are pretty stressful for everyone, but especially those affected by mesothelioma.

For the record, stress is something we all deal with, so don’t be so hard on yourself if it is affecting you this holiday season.

As a mesothelioma survivor, I know firsthand how difficult the holidays can be. I remember the Christmas right after I had the HIPEC treatment. It was my first Christmas as a new mom, a new wife, and I was two months post-surgery. It was definitely stressful.

When you’re a new mom you’re always thinking about how perfect you want your child’s first Christmas to be. I wasn’t working at the time since I was still recovering from major surgery, and so many things were running through my head.

When life isn’t going the way you planned, it’s easy to get caught up in negative thoughts that remind you of where you’re falling short. Then you start comparing yourself to others and begin feeling sorry for yourself.

There are five words to remember if you find yourself going down this path: Be grateful for every day.

Surviving Another Pandemic Holiday Season

After being diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, I made it my purpose to enjoy each and every moment, especially around the holidays. I processed my situation and accepted it for what it was. I may not have had everything I wanted, but I was cancer-free, enjoying time with my husband and baby boy. The memories we make with family are what matter the most. 

We’ve been in this COVID-19 pandemic for almost two years now, and I’m sure it’s placed a damper on everyone’s holiday and added much stress and anxiety – especially given the unknowns.

When the pandemic first began, we had the fear of not knowing what was going to happen next. Our normal life as we knew it was transformed into a season of isolation. The holidays didn’t feel the same.

This year, as the holidays approach again, I’ve heard numerous people say that it feels different. You can still celebrate your holiday traditions with some precautions, as well as create new ones. 

10 Ways to Cope During the Holidays

As someone who has experienced anxiety myself, I’ve come up with some tips to help you cope with the stress you may feel around the holidays.

  1. Give yourself some grace. Look how far you have come within your journey and the strides you’ve made.
  2. Don’t sweat the small stuff. This is good advice any time of year, but it’s especially important around the holidays.
  3. Take things one day at a time. Don’t feel as if you have to rush to do anything. One thing I’ve noticed is that when I’m rushing or feel as if I have to hurry to do something, it can lead to anxiety.
  4. Refrain from slipping into “social comparison.” This is when we compare ourselves to people we think are doing better than we are.
  5. Talk about your feelings. Find a health care professional, therapist or even a close friend and express to them how you’re feeling.
  6. Take some time out for self-care. Self-care is the best care and it is whatever you make it.
  7. Pray. I believe that prayer works.
  8. Take a social media break. Social media is great for connecting with family and friends, but it can also trigger stress and anxiety.
  9. Get your happy back. Do something spontaneous that brings you joy.
  10. Live in the moment. However you celebrate the holidays, enjoy each minute and make some great memories.

One thing to note: You’re not alone. It’s important to try to stay positive and take life one day at a time. Things will work out, just keep the faith! And have a happy holiday.

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