Cancer takes a toll on us physically and mentally. Every second can seem like an eternity, even while the days and weeks can blur into one long stretch of confusion. The emotional and physical stress is real. Just getting through the day is an accomplishment. While it may seem impossible, it's important to carve time out for yourself.
Photo Credit: Matt Hardy
You've added treatments, new habits, and follow-up appointments to your already busy schedule of working and taking care of your family, pets and home. It doesn't feel like you have time for anything else. But taking time to focus on yourself - focus on your spirit - will make all of those other things more manageable. Doing things that feed your soul can give you the perspective that carries you past cancer to a journey that is uniquely yours.
Let People Help
There are many ways to nurture your well-being. Maybe the first task is being willing to let people help you. We are so used to doing everything ourselves, that we don't like to ask for help, even if we're battling cancer. But remember those around us want to help, and often feel like there's very little they can do. Letting them help with anything (cooking a meal, small chores) is a good first step.
Learn to Say 'No'
This is also a good time to learn to say 'no'. You don't need to attend every committee meeting, or pep rally, or bake sale. There are some people who feel better when they get out and talk to friends and can forget about their cancer for a little while. If those events and get-togethers bring you joy, then go ahead - as long as you are not tiring yourself out. But if you are usually over-scheduled, this is a time to re-evaluate. Choose only the social events that most important to you personally. The rest of the world can wait. There are plenty of other people who can fill in during your hiatus.
Spending time by the water can reduce anxiety and stress.
Do Things that Bring You Joy
If you play an instrument, carve out time to play music. It's amazing the places your creative mind will go when you are just playing for the love of it. If you love to paint, set up a place in your home where the paints are all ready to go whenever you want to sit and paint and think. If you like to garden, take a trip to a nursery and create a new special place in the garden that will represent your new path in life.
Connect with Nature
Neuroscientists have learned that being near the water has a positive effect on us physically and mentally. They call it the 'Blue Mind'. Make regular trips to the ocean, or a lake or river - whatever is close to you - and just sit and watch the waves, or the water lapping at the banks of the river. It can put us in a meditative state that reduces stress and anxiety.
In Japan, they have a concept called Shinrin-yoku, or 'Forest Bathing', which washes away the stress, anxiety, and over-stimulation of our modern world, and restores us. It is said to be calming, rejuvenating and restorative.