It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is much planned for and much anticipated and can bring joy, but we know that this time of year can also be challenging for many different reasons. Tasks, deadlines, expectations and the pressure of entertaining can feel overwhelming. When we consider the additional challenges such as fatigue and sensory overload that can be experienced when living with a brain tumour diagnosis, there is potential for this to be a difficult time.
We’d like to share with you some thoughts and tips that can help make this Christmas the best that it can be, despite living with the challenges that a brain tumour diagnosis can bring. Some suggestions include:
Make plans and stick to them
Planning your social contact over the festive period can have many benefits. It can help manage other people’s expectations of what they can expect from you, which can be useful if you struggle with spontaneity. Knowing that you’ve already planned when you’re seeing people can reduce anxiety about letting people down or fitting it all in. It also keeps your schedule on your terms factoring in important issues such as managing your fatigue.
Making firm plans and sticking to them can also help alleviate low mood at this time; when hibernating and staying indoors can seem all too tempting, an outdoors plan away from the home fulfilled can lift the spirits. Perhaps make plans to meet outdoors for a walk, or how about a family zoom call?
Communication is key
Whatever your concerns about the holiday season, it should help to talk to those around you about what it is specifically that you are worried about.
Perhaps you’re worried about finances and parity of gift buying – having a conversation about this can really help to level the playing field. You probably aren’t alone in such concerns, and it may well be the case that others will feel relieved if you suggest slighter tighter gift budgets this year. Secret Santa arrangements can work well in larger families, or how about baked gifts; or giving the most valuable gift of all – your time.
It can be difficult to accept that things may not be the same post diagnosis as they were before, and Christmas is no different. You may feel concerned about the expectations those around you have of you at this time, or perhaps you’re trying to do it all and feeling that you can’t cope. Sharing your thoughts and feelings honestly will give others the opportunity to help support you, and can open up conversation about what a fresh new reality might look like. Just because things have always been done one way doesn’t mean that they always have to be – maybe now is the time to create new traditions, or to let others share the load.