Living with cancer and coping with all the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of the illness can be exhausting. From my own personal experience with breast cancer, I know what a huge toll it can take on your mental health, so it’s important to make sure you are practicing self-care. I can remember sitting down amongst the whirlwind of information and doctor’s appointments being thrown at me, and just feeling completely overwhelmed and helpless. Just hearing the word ‘cancer’ was enough to make my mind go blank. A cancer diagnosis is out of your control, but the way you power through it is up to you!
For those who need chemotherapy, mental health care is imperative. Dealing with the physical discomfort and pain is one thing, but it can be very hard on you emotionally as well. In fact, many people who are living with cancer suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. You may experience feeling angry, confused, scared, or even guilty, but knowing how to take care of yourself will help you feel better, even on the worst of days.
Here are a few of the best ways to boost your mental health when undergoing chemotherapy.
One of the hardest things about chemotherapy is that it can give you lots of time to think, which means your mind can go in many different directions at once. By the end of a session, you may be left feeling overwhelmed. This is where mindfulness can help; by focusing on the present moment, paying close attention to your breathing, or becoming absorbed in a good book, you can learn to keep negative thoughts at bay and push distractions away easily. Meditation can help, and so can yoga, which is often used in conjunction with mindfulness.
As long as your doctor gives you the go-ahead, it’s always a good idea to work out for at least 30 minutes per day. Not only can this boost your mood and help you feel better physically, it can also assist in combating fatigue, which is common in individuals who are fighting cancer and undergoing chemotherapy. When you don’t feel exhausted, you’ll be able to face the day’s challenges head-on, which can boost your self-confidence as well.
Get enough rest
It’s absolutely essential to make sure your body is getting the rest it needs. Not only do you need enough sleep, you need enough good sleep, which means starting a bedtime ritual to help you get relaxed, and ready to shut off your brain for the day. You might take a hot shower, or limit screen time at least an hour before bedtime. Another good idea is to reduce your responsibilities, so that you can have as much time as you need to rest. For example, if you’re a dog owner, you might consider hiring a dog walker, or finding a responsible person to board your pet should you need to stay away from home for a while.
Eating well-balanced meals can help you keep your energy up and stay as mentally and physically strong as possible. Maintaining a good diet has many benefits, but knowing that you’re putting good things into your body will help you feel a measure of control—something many individuals who are living with cancer feel like they lack.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is life-changing, and chemotherapy can affect your body in many ways, but knowing how to take care of yourself will allow you to help prevent fatigue, depression, anxiety, and emotional exhaustion. Turn to friends and family for support as much as possible during this time and ask for help when you need it.