Posts Tagged ‘tips’

7 Tips to Peacefully Celebrate the Holidays When You are Not Feeling Jolly

It is the time of the year to feel happy … time to be generous … time to spend time with loved ones … and sing festively. Are you not in the mood this season? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Many people find the holidays very stressful and sometimes even sad. Social engagements and family gatherings add another time commitment to already busy days. Gift giving puts pressure on already strapped budgets. Expectations of how you should be enjoying this time of year only make you feel worse. All of these feelings are magnified and complicated by cancer treatment during the holidays.

There are things you can do to help yourself get through the holidays and maybe even enjoy them a bit. Self care is important throughout the year, but during a stressful period it must be a priority.

1) Get Adequate Rest

Making sure you get adequate sleep nightly is key!

  • Adults need 7-9 hours every night and children need 10 – 12 hours of sleep each night.
  • Set a bedtime, and get out of bed every morning at the same time.
  • Don’t drink caffeine after lunch.
  • Limit alcohol to one drink at dinner.
  • Avoid stressful conversations after dinner.
  • Enjoy a relaxation routine in the hour before bed.

Relaxation routines depend on what works best for you, but consider stretching, breathing slowly, writing in a gratitude journal or listening to gentle music. For more information on the importance of adequate sleep and rest, visit the National Sleep Foundation’s website.

2) Pay Close Attention To Your Diet

Another key aspect of self care is attention to diet and exercise.

  • Fill your plate with colorful foods, mostly fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat only one plate of food at each meal.
  • Enjoy a holiday dessert, but a small serving is enough.
  • Cook with family, enjoy the conversation in the kitchen, but wait to put food in your mouth until you sit down to the meal.
  • Instead of soda, drink warm tea or cider.
  • After the meal, take a walk. Take a walk 3 times a day. Bring someone on the walk whose company you enjoy.

3) Listen To Music You Like

If elevator carols make you crazy, actively search for music you actually like, maybe Celtic tunes, old country or Jamaican steel drums, and turn that on whenever you can.

4) Try Alternative Gifts This Year

  • If your budget is tight, make gifts this year. Paint on canvas, write a poem, organize a scrapbook of old pictures, or cook a new dish. Or offer a service, such as walking a dog, watching children, delivering meals, or organizing a closet.
  • If wrapping presents makes you grumpy, spend time finding wrapping paper you like. Design your own paper. Make your own cloth bags that can be reused. Wrap in plain paper and finger paint it.

5) Turn Your Hospital Experience Around

If going to the hospital or clinic during the holidays brings you down, try to turn the experience around. The staff is always asking you questions, how about you ask them a couple? Ask  the front desk, the valet, the nurse what they like about the holidays, what music they like, and what time of year they prefer.

6) Take Time Out Each Day to Be Positive, Relax and Breathe

  • Every day, take time to breathe. Turn off the TV and computer. Sit down, stretch your head to the sky, softly close your eyes, relax your shoulders, breathe in through your nose slowly and out slowly through your mouth. Say to yourself, “I can breathe, I can do it.”
  • Every day remind yourself, “I am here today, I am going to find one thing I like today to make this day worthwhile.” Small things count. Notice a tree, feel the cool air, smile at someone.

7) Treat Yourself to an Alternative Therapy

Get a massage, try a Tai Chi or yoga class, consider acupuncture, drink green tea, or add turmeric to your favorite vegetable stir-fry. Many health benefits of alternative and complementary medicine are described at Be sure to check with your physician before you begin any new exercise programs, and let your physician know about any supplements you take.

To truly make a difference in the way you feel, make the effort daily to do some of the things mentioned above. You don’t need to do them all, but pick three things and make the commitment to do them every day!

Best wishes for a healthy and happy holiday season and New Year!
Wendy Baer, MD

About Dr. Baer

Wendy Baer, MD, is Medical Director of Psychiatric Oncology with appointments in the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Winship Cancer Institute.

Clinical Specialties In her work at the Winship Cancer Institute, Dr. Baer helps patients and their families deal with the stress of receiving a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment. As a Psychiatrist she has expertise in treating clinical depression and anxiety both with medications and psychotherapy to help people manage emotions, behaviors and relationships. The fundamental goal of Dr. Baer’s practice is to promote wellness and maximize patients’ quality of life as much as possible. She believes strongly in the team approach to patient care and collaborates regularly with patients’ doctors, nurses and social workers.


Healthy Holiday Eating Web Chat

‘Tis the season for indulgence, fa la la la la la la la laaaaa! With the holiday season upon us, it’s hard to resist the urge to overindulge. While it is important for everyone to know how to make healthy choices when it comes to nutrition and exercise, incorporating the right foods a nutritional elements into one’s diet is especially important for cancer survivors. According to the National Cancer Institute, an individual is considered a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis through the balance of his or her life. Understanding the role nutrition plays before, during, and after cancer treatment is critical to ensuring cancer survivors are as strong as possible through their journey in the fight against cancer.

Because nutritional recommendations can be very different for cancer patients than for the average healthy adult, Tiffany Barrett, MS, RD, CSO, LD, of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, is hosting an online chat on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at noon EST to share her insights on optimal nutrition to support the journey in the fight against cancer.

Be proactive this holiday season and join Tiffany and our other chat participants to share tips, ideas, and get questions answered related to the best nutritional choices you can make this holiday season and beyond!

Related Resources

Healthy Grilling – You can have fun and be healthy, too

Healthy GrillingGrilling is more than just a way to cook in the summertime.  It’s also a social event and a bonding experience. While cookouts are great for dusting off your “Kiss the Cook” apron and chatting with your neighbors, it’s important to keep your health in mind as well.

Eating red meat has long been considered a potential risk factor in developing certain types of cancer. Not to rain on your picnic and cookout, but there has been a large body of research conducted in the past few years that suggests grilling these meats is even worse for your health than if you baked or roasted them. The American Institute for Cancer Research recently conducted a meta-analysis on the causes of colorectal cancer and determined that consuming grilled or processed meats is a  “convincing” cause of the disease.


When meat is grilled using high levels of heat, the muscle proteins are broken down, causing the formation of compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs).  The longer the meat is cooked, the more HCAs form. The Department of Health and Human Services named HCAs on their list of carcinogens in 2005 due to their capabilities to damage DNA.  In fact, a recent study found that people who regularly consumed well-done meat were 60 percent more likely to get cancer.

It is also suggested to avoid the consumption of processed meats such as sausage, hot dogs, salami, bacon, ham, and pepperoni. This is because many of these foods contain the meat preservatives nitrates and nitrites, which have been linked to both colon and bladder cancers in humans.

Still want to have your steak and eat it too?

Here are some helpful ways to cook meat in a healthier manner:

  • Use a microwave to preheat the meat to reduce the time it spends on the grill.
  • Cover the surface of the grill with punctured aluminum foil and avoiding charring the meat or exposing it to flame.
  • Prepare smaller or thinner pieces, as it takes less time for them to cook.
  • Use meat with lower fat content, as more fat means more flames.
  • Flip the meat frequently to avoid constant exposure  to high temperatures.
  • Keep your grill rack as high as possible so that the meat is farther away from the flames.
  • Marinate meat for at least 10 minutes to help to protect it from burning.

About Dr. Dr. Bassel El-Rayes

Dr. Bassel El-Rayes, associate professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and an expert in treating gastrointestinal cancers, notes that it is important to think of grilling other things besides meat. Salmon and other fish are healthy options, for example. Also, Dr. El-Rayes reminds people to include plenty of fruits, vegetables and legumes for a healthy cookout. Adding such things as watermelon, strawberries, squash, peppers and tomatoes not only makes the menu more inviting but also keeps it healthy, Dr. El-Rayes says.

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