Blog: Coping over Christmas

Monday 3 December 2018

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and while for most this an exciting, festive time of year, we know that for a lot of people affected by a brain tumour, Christmas brings with it a completely different mix of challenges and feelings.

It isn't always a carefree and jolly time of year, but can actually bring a wave of emotions, additional stresses and worries about treatment.

Tips to help you cope with the Christmas period and all that comes with it:

Talk to your medical team:

They may have some suggestions or advice to help you cope, and may also be able to be flexible about treatment or medical appointments, helping you to plan your Christmas period. They can also give you information about any out-of-hours services or contact details you might need at this time.

Manage your expectations and understand your limitations:

We all have different traditions at this time of year – decorating the Christmas tree, doing some festive baking or going Christmas shopping. But this year, you may feel too tired to decorate the tree completely, or can't face the crowds of Christmas shoppers. While it's frustrating not being able to do everything the same way you did before, it's important to acknowledge this and be gentle with yourself about it. Your body, brain and budget have been through a lot!

Creating new traditions:

Think about changing your traditions slightly to better suit how you're feeling at the time. You could watch A Christmas Carol instead of going out carolling. While decorating the tree, save your energy to put the star on top and let others do the rest (under your expert supervision, of course!). Or you could try buying presents online so you don't have to face the Christmas crowds.

Don't be afraid or ashamed to ask for help:

If there was ever a time of year to ask for additional support, this is it. Talk to your loved ones about trading traditional roles you may have had. See if anyone has spare time to help you or your loved one get to and from appointments. Ask if you can keep any leftovers from Christmas dinners to have throughout the week. Whether you're living with a brain tumour or caring for someone, make sure you ask for the help you need and take some much-deserved time for yourself.

Don't feel guilty for doing what you need to do:

This year, you may want to spend some quality time with a select few – and that's okay! Talk to your friends and family, explain the situation and they'll understand. Arrange a different day to celebrate with smaller groups, or simply skip this altogether. If you feel tired, make sure you take regular breaks, take time for yourself and rest when you need to. You know what you can handle and what you can't – make sure you respect this.

Consider dietary restrictions and be careful with alcohol:

We know that lots of people might enjoy an alcoholic drink at Christmas. Generally, the odd tipple isn't a problem, but it's really important to make sure you check with your medical team beforehand, so you can understand how it might affect you. Alcohol can sometimes interfere with how some medicines or drugs work, or it might make you feel sick. You could limit yourself to a drink with dinner, or just to toast with.

There's a lot to consider over the Christmas period, and hopefully these tips will be helpful this year. But you might still struggle. Remember: that's okay. If you want to talk to someone about how you're feeling, our Information and Support line (0808 800 0004) is open at the following times:

Christmas opening hours

Christmas Eve: 9am to 3pm
Christmas Day: Closed
Boxing Day: Closed
Thursday 27 December: 10am to 3pm
Friday 28 December: 10am to 3pm
Saturday 29 December: Closed
Sunday 30 December: Closed
Monday 31 December: 10am to 3pm
Tuesday 1 January: Closed
Wednesday 2 January: Open as usual 9am to 9pm

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