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Posted on Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

Tips for stress-free holidays

By Betsy de Parry

The following content was published on the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center's blog,, (a terrific resource!) and is republished here with permission and thanks. Wishing my readers joyous holidays!

From Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, the holiday scramble can be daunting even under the best of circumstances. But people coping with cancer face different stresses. Here are some tips from patients, parents, survivors and social workers at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center on how to make the best of the season.

Delegate: Whether you typically cook a big holiday meal for a dozen guests, or a feast for your small family, enlist family members and guests to help cook the main course, side dishes and desserts. Someone else's latkes might not be as good as the ones you make, but will still taste delicious.

Communicate: Talk to family and friends about their expectations for the holidays, and let them know your needs. Find out what's most important to children. Together, you can set expectations for what is do-able, and what isn't, such as limiting visits or cutting back on seasonal decorations.

Pick and choose: What traditions mean the most to you? Consider letting go of the ones lower down on your list. It may be difficult to make changes, but being selective can help prevent exhaustion and make the activities you maintain more enjoyable.

Just say no: Setting limits is especially important. It's okay to say "no" to cookie exchanges, parties and difficult relatives.

Plan a restful holiday: Make changes in your routine that create time for you to rest or relax. Instead of going to parties, enjoy lower-key activities, like watching special television programs at home or taking quiet drives to look at holiday lights.

Appreciate (don't emulate) Norman Rockwell: Recognize that the perfect holiday is an unrealistic expectation and accept that the holidays may be emotionally difficult. People often see holidays as markers in time, triggering reflections on past losses and hopes for the future. If you find yourself struggling with depression, consider seeking out a social worker, therapist or clergy member for counsel. Give back: Bring a little more meaning to your holiday season by helping others. Volunteering or making a contribution can be especially fulfilling for those who are beyond treatment.

Shop smart:

- Skip the crowds and shop at home in your bathrobe. Internet and catalog shopping offer convenient options for gift-giving.

- Consider simple, homemade gifts - and the key word is "simple!"

- Consider cutting down on the number of gifts you typically give; talk to your friends and family to let them know that you're just not up to it this year.

- Delegate the shopping to someone else. Make a list and ask a friend or family member to pick up the necessary gifts while they're out running their own errands.

These are just some of the tips and techniques that can bring relief — what helps you get through the holidays?

More resources:

Coping with Cancer during the Holidays

Questions & Answers about Coping with Cancer during the Holidays

Coping with Cancer during the Holidays

Coping During the Holidays: Answers to Common Questions

Caregivers: How to Handle the Holidays

Caregiving During Holidays and Special Occasions

Betsy de Parry is the author of Adventures In Cancer Land. Find her on Facebook or email her.