A cancer diagnosis results in a huge upheaval to your lifestyle. Suddenly, you have to make regular doctor visits, subject your body to uncomfortable treatments, and face debilitating physical symptoms. This makes it extremely difficult to maintain the quality of life that you once had. Plus, cancer gets in the way of both career and life goals, making you feel helpless to live the life you want. Fortunately, adopting self-care practices and focusing on spiritual wellness can help you regain some control over your life again.
Acknowledge the Psychological Effects of Cancer
It’s no secret that cancer wreaks havoc on the body, but it takes a huge toll on our mental health as well. Cancer causes us to face intense emotions such as anger, fear, guilt, worry, stress, and sadness. According to The American Cancer Society, people often grieve the losses that cancer causes in their lives. For example, alterations to your body can put a damper on your confidence and self-esteem, while physical symptoms keep you from enjoying the activities you once loved. A cancer diagnosis comes with plenty of unknowns, causing anxiety about what lies ahead and depression about perceived helplessness. These mental issues are serious problems and should not be taken as unavoidable side effects of the disease. Instead, talk to a doctor or therapist about what you can do to deal with cancer-related psychological problems.
People who are battling cancer often have a hard time sleeping. These sleep disruptions only increase stress and contribute to feelings of depression. Choose Hope recommends keeping a sleep journal so you can track the potential causes of your sleep difficulties. Is it stress that’s keeping you up? Are naps during the day impeding your ability to sleep at night? Are certain medications affecting your sleep? Keep track of the issues that you think are contributing to sleeplessness so you can find ways to combat it. For example, try limiting your daytime naps to less than an hour. Also, eating early in the evening and developing nighttime routine can help you wind down and prevent stimulation from interfering with your sleep.
Pick Up an Engaging Hobby
Try getting involved in an enjoyable hobby to reduce stress, improve your mood, and distract yourself from worrying thoughts. Arts and crafts are great for people with little energy and those who are bedridden. Activities like knitting, origami, reading, and sketching are excellent for keeping your mind occupied during chemotherapy treatments. Gardening is another wonderful way to pass the time at home and can be extremely meditative. If you have the energy, try doing some light exercise or engaging in holistic activities like yoga.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Sticking to a healthy diet will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to heal and keep your moods balanced. Choose fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines for their omega-3 fatty acids. These have anti-inflammatory properties and support optimal brain functioning. Dark green leafy veggies are packed with plenty of bone-strengthening calcium, blood-cell boosting iron, and essential magnesium. When your appetite is low, reach for nutrient and calorie-dense snacks, such as trail mix, to keep your energy up.
For many people, a cancer diagnosis sparks questions of mortality and meaning. This may cause you to reevaluate your entire belief system. Spirituality can be a powerful way to address the needs of your mind and body on a more holistic basis. In fact, almost 73 percent of people report that their cancer caused them to grow spiritually. Whatever you believe, spirituality can help you cope with negative psychological feelings and emotions that come with cancer. Some spiritual practices that can help you cope may include praying, meditating, reading spiritual books, or taking time to retreat to spiritual places and natural settings.
Too often, the mental health and general well-being of a cancer patient are overlooked during treatment. Self-care and spirituality can really change how you experience and cope with the many negative aspects of cancer. Treating yourself with care can even help you feel a sense of a hope and develop a new gratitude for life.
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