The holiday season is upon us! For many, this means a bounty of holiday parties filled with rich and tasty foods, time spent with friends and family, gift exchanges, travel and much more.
As we begin to prepare for the holidays, it’s important to remember self-care is still a priority. Whether or not you’re currently on treatment, take some time to write down ideas as to how you’ll maintain your best health this holiday season.
12 Ideas for Self-Care
Unsure about where to start when practicing self-care? Here’s 12 ideas to get you started!
1. Keep infection at bay. Risk of infection is higher if you’re in treatment. Keep your hands clean and ask your sick friends, family and coworkers to steer clear of you to reduce your chances of catching their colds. Remember, it’s flu season! (Get your flu shot!)
2. Avoid food borne illness. Keep cooking surfaces and hands clean, and make sure foods are cooked to the right temperature and leftovers are stored appropriately. This can help you (and your holiday guests) avoid getting sick off of your yummy holiday party foods.
3. Remember your dietary needs. If you plan to attend a party where food will be served, let the host know if you have certain dietary needs. It might be uncomfortable, but it’s perfectly OK to make them aware of your needs so they can prepare accordingly. Or, if you don’t want to alter their menu, notify them you’ll be bringing your own food ahead of time so their feelings don’t get hurt. Communication is key! Need nutrition tips? Check out our nutrition resources!
4. Be mindful of the foods you eat. To avoid a bowel obstruction, chew your food well and eat small amounts of food multiple times a day. This will make your colon do less work. (If you eat a giant meal, your colon has more work to do). Avoid foods that make you feel unwell or cause pain. You may consider a vegetarian holiday, or cutting down on red and processed meats. For recipe tips and more, read our Q&A with Ann from Cook for Your Life (CFYL). To read one survivor’s story, check out Danielle’s guest blog for CFYL on “Food Breakups.”
5. Stay hydrated! Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day, suck on ice chips and eat foods high in water content. It’s important to combat dehydration, which can be a serious treatment side effect.
6. Be honest with how you feel. Let your friends and family know how you are feeling, for example, if you’re too tired to cook – ask someone else to take on the job of cooking this year. Give yourself permission to not attend the party if you need to rest, or leave early if you’re extremely fatigued.
7. Pack smart. If you’re traveling, make sure you pack whatever you need to manage your side effects. If you have an ostomy, read up on some tips for traveling with an ostomy.
8. Stay warm. Make sure to keep gloves, a scarf and a hat with you – especially if you’re experiencing neuropathy, which can make you even more sensitive to the cold.
9. Rest. Holiday season is “Go!Go!Go!” Try meditating or take a short nap to recharge. Avoid caffeine or alcohol late in the day, as they can disrupt sleep.
10. Manage stress. The holidays can be very stressful. Engage in the activities that help you manage stress: maybe that means spending time in nature, getting a massage or taking deep breaths and practicing mindfulness. Forget about striving for a “perfect” holiday, and focus on enjoying the presence of those around you.
11. Move your body. If you’re up to it, take a walk with friends and family. Studies have shown there are benefits to staying active, even while on treatment. Check out our resources on the benefits of exercise for colorectal cancer patients and survivors.
12. Remember and reflect. For some, the holidays can be a time when those who’ve passed away are missed. Take time during the season to remember those who have touched your life. If you’re experiencing guilt or grief, don’t be afraid to work through it. Be present and live in the moment. ‘Tis the season to enjoy!
Get More Tips for Self-Care
Sign up for our email where each month, we’ll send you a Patient’s Guide full of education and information for those facing colorectal cancer. You can also check out our Resource Library packed full of free webinars, podcasts, mini magazines, brochures, videos and more covering topics impacting those in the fight.
Have another tip for surviving the holidays and practicing self-care? Let us know – leave a comment below!