A Guide To A Healthier Thanksgiving For Cancer Patients - Karen Berrios

A Guide To A Healthier Thanksgiving For Cancer Patients

The holidays bring so much joy, peace, and love but it can also bring about stress, grief, conflict, and unhealthy behaviors.

So I am here to help you have a healthier Thanksgiving. And I’ll tell you right off the bat that it has to come from all angles of life- not just “healthy food swaps” here and there- although that’s part of it.

In this article, I encourage you to go back to your pillars of health and let those define how your holidays go.

In order to have a healthier Thanksgiving, you will need to look at this holiday in a physical way, an emotional way, a mental way, a social way, and finally (and most importantly), in a Spiritual way. Do these things and I promise you a happier, more content, and peaceful Thanksgiving.

The physical aspect of Thanksgiving.

When I talk about my physical pillar of health, I am looking at what I eat, intentional movement, and sleep. These things should not fall to the wayside with Thanksgiving.

Of course, you will be eating more treats during Thanksgiving- that’s okay! Give yourself grace and enjoy the beautiful memories that can be made around food. But be mindful of when you aren’t indulging. Make sure you are eating plenty of greens (the entire rainbow- really!) to make sure that your body is still getting the fuel it needs to repair and feel optimal. You know how you physically feel “low” when you aren’t eating clean? Don’t let that happen day after day during the holidays. Are you having an indulgent sugar-y breakfast? Have a salad at lunch. Or start your day off with a green juice. Did you eat way too much for dinner? You can always have leftover dessert tomorrow. Be gentle on your body and don’t push it.

When it comes to movement, make sure you are getting in walks each day. It is so easy to park it on the couch during Thanksgiving, but make sure to get up and move. Be active in the kitchen, schedule a workout ON Thanksgiving day if you can. I promise if you workout first thing in the day on Thanksgiving, you will have more energy throughout the day and you will digest food even better. Also… know when to rest.

Speaking of rest, none of this matters if you are sleeping poorly. Sleep is when your body regenerates. It is when your brain can rest. It is the most healing part of your day and to ignore it or not give it much emphasis would be a shame. Imagine feeling well rested all throughout Thanksgiving. You would be less on edge, more energetic, and more calm knowing your body has done some major healing.

The emotional aspect of Thanksgiving

Taking care of yourself emotionally is a radical act of self love, not towards yourself but the people around you. When you are for yourself emotionally, you feel better and you treat others around you in a kinder and more patient way.

A few years ago I realized that I had spent much of my life suppressing a lot of my emotions. I operated from a place of trying to conform to expectations—what society says, what religion says, what others want from me—instead of being true to myself into being a whole person, the person God created me to be.

Now that I have a much greater awareness of my thoughts and emotions, I'm learning to feed my soul with positive emotions that serve me in life and don’t swallow me whole. We are supposed to be like Jesus and often they describe him being as calm as water in a still lake. That is what I envision for myself. You should envision that too. What rocks you? If something is your trigger during this Thanksgiving, then you need to have a plan to deal with it in a positive way before it even happens. When you have a plan and you aim to be more “still” in your emotions, you will experience a much higher level of happiness and balance.

Thanksgiving can be such an emotional time. It is an overload of people, time (good and not so good), it brings up old memories or past behaviors, we need to go into it joyously and also with grace in our heart towards ourselves and others. Emotions should be felt and processed so they don’t “erupt” in a negative way during Thanksgiving. What is your trigger? Now is the time to figure it out.

Plans of action can include going for a walk when something starts to bother you, or having an “escape” to certain areas of the house. Or telling yourself you won’t allow a certain emotion to evoke a specific behavior anymore- and obeying your rules! Trusting yourself.

We are beautifully emotional human beings. More than ever, during Thanksgiving, cater to this aspect of yourself.


The mental aspect of Thanksgiving

Cancer has taught me that it has no barriers, no boundaries and it comes full force to snatch your health, your peace and invade your thoughts. It can be especially challenging during Thanksgiving, when perhaps relatives are extra nosey with how your healing is going, or they push the boundaries for you, physically or emotionally. There are times you are going to have to anchor yourself. Stand firm in your own beliefs and boundaries that you have.

The best way to keep a strong mental state, during a week when it can be tougher to do so, is to focus on Jesus multiple times throughout the day.

Knowing Jesus and His heart for you will teach you to stay present, calm, to stay focused on Him and what He says about you and your situation. He knows how best you can “react” to things, so listen to his wisdom. Relish in the bible. Get quiet in prayer each day. I call Jesus my dwelling place, my strong tower, my shield. To Him I run in time of trouble or in gratitude. He has helped me see the truth about me and others. While humanity may not have all the answers, or the cure for cancer, HE does!

While I may not have the answer on how to deal with family members, HE does. While I cannot rely on my own strength at times, I can rely on HIM. While certain things during the holidays can get me upset, HE can bring me peace.

Mental strength = seeking refuge and wisdom from Jesus.

This Thanksgiving, go into it with a strong mind. Not a wishy-washy one, not an indecisive one or one without a plan, a strong mind and roadmap for how to handle the holidays. Rely on HIM.

A strong mind will also help keep your body healthy. We are holistic beings.

The social aspect of Thanksgiving

Men and women were created to live in community, to care about others and participate in life together. We are meant to be social.

Please go into this Thanksgiving feeling grateful to have connections with others. Whether you are meeting in person this year or doing plenty of phone and zoom calls, be present. Show up. Care.

Your presence means more to others than you know. The bible says again and again how important community is. If you were planning on being alone this Thanksgiving, I urge you to make more phone calls or zoom calls and really connect, because that is what the spirit of this holiday is about. Catering to your social pillar of health and the social pillar of health of others!

I am very active with my community and spending time with my family is always a priority because it adds to my purpose and leaves me feeling good! I like to multiply my social time over Thanksgiving, because time is not always guaranteed!

If you feel you have no friends or family, this is something you can’t neglect. Pray to Jesus for the right people in your life, for more opportunities to connect, and that you never grow cold towards new relationships- or igniting old ones.

It is healthy to be social, always remember that.

The Spiritual aspect of Thanksgiving

I have said this many times before and I stick by it 100%, if I had to only act on one pillar of health, it would be the Spiritual pillar. It is by far the most important pillar we have and we if strengthen this pillar, then often, we secondarily strengthen the other pillars!

Jesus is blessing us with a time to be together and submerge ourselves into feelings of gratitude. Take this time to really thank Our Heavenly Father for what he has given us.

For you that might be food, family, abundance, health, a new type of healing, you name it… there is something to be grateful for!

While Thanksgiving can be stressful, if you start your day thinking of things you are grateful for and actually telling God how thankful you are, your day is going to go so much smoother. You are bound to have an extra pep in your step. Things and people in your life will hold more depth, and you will be left feeling more fulfilled.

You know those Thanksgiving movies where people are so happy and thankful and smiling? That can be you! You can be that person who shows up this holiday feeling warm and open and at peace. If you are dealing with cancer, I encourage you to cultivate gratitude even despite the challenges of your healing journey

Spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with him and not only will your Thanksgiving be healthier, your whole life will be healthier. Wishing you a “Happy & Healthy Thanksgiving”

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