Caring for Your Spirit While Battling Cancer
As a cancer patient, there is a lot on your plate: treatment, reactions, and medical appointments. You may be so overwhelmed that you’ve forgotten to care for your spirit. Just as your doctors provide treatment for your cancer, you need to provide self-care for your inner being as well.
How to Care for Your Mind and Spirit
Stress, depression and other negative emotions are normal right now. It’s important to find techniques that will help you feel better emotionally. In fact, research shows that people who are optimistic have longer survival rates and better health outcomes in general than those who are pessimistic.
What can you do to improve your outlook? Start by taking care of your mind and spirit. Here are five ideas to get started:
Pray or meditate.
According to Jeff Levin, Ph.D., M.P.H., author of God, Faith and Health, “Frequent prayer, whether public or private, is associated with better health and emotional well-being and lower levels of psychological distress.” If you do not pray, you can still meditate which can help clear your mind and may even reduce pain and anxiety.
Use essential oils.
Diffusing essential oils can calm you. Use a blend or oil specifically known for its relaxing qualities, such as lavender. Make sure your doctor and medical team approve before you can begin usage.
Take a nature walk.
Research also shows that connecting with nature can lessen stress and hasten healing. All you need is a day with fair weather and a pair of shoes.
Use guided imagery.
Guided imagery or visualization is a way to imagine “pictures, sounds, smells, and other sensations associated with reaching a goal.” It may reduce depression, increase your immune cells and boost your feeling of well-being. Find a therapist who specializes in this type of therapy.
Journal your emotions.
Writing out your concerns, fears, hopes, and dreams can improve how you feel and give you a safe outlet to cope with your cancer.
Address the side effects of chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy can take its toll on your mind and body, which can ultimately affect your self-esteem. In fact, many people women feel self-conscience when chemotherapy results in hair loss. However, there are many options you can explore (head scarves, turbans, etc.) that can help you regain your confidence.
Also, be sure to check out this article on ways to boost your body, mind, and spirit while going through chemotherapy.
Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle
Self-care is an important component of feeling better and it begins with a healthy lifestyle. This is a perfect time to nurture these habits:
- Drink water when you feel thirsty.
There is no “set” amount you must drink; just don’t let yourself get thirsty. Water will provide many benefits, such as keeping you regular and balancing your body temperature.
- Take care of the air you breathe.
Chemotherapy can weaken your immune system, which is why it’s important to address the quality of the air you breathe inside your home. In addition to air purifiers, you can address this concern by getting an air filter that has a high MERV rating (the higher the number, the more particles it traps). It’s also important to change your air filter every 60 to 90 days.
- Eat more produce.
Your body loves vegetables, even if your palette doesn’t, so do your best to put more produce into your diet. You can hide them in smoothies, dip them in sauces and find other creative ways to eat them in a way you love.
- Eat fewer carbs, sugar, and processed foods.
These are all bad for you in high amounts so try to limit your intake of these foods. Find healthy substitutes for all of them.
- Drink water when you feel thirsty.
Take a multivitamin.
A daily multivitamin can provide nutrients that may be missing in your diet as well as boost your energy levels.
Sleep when needed.
You may be more tired than normal, so try to establish a longer sleep routine. Add 10-15 minute increments. If you’re struggling to sleep, cut down on extra responsibilities and find a way to wind down earlier in the evening.
Addiction Prevention and the Safe Use of Opioids
Unfortunately, cancer treatment often comes with some intense pain and your doctor may prescribe opioids to combat it. To prevent the risk of addiction, you should talk with your doctor about any history of substance abuse.
With any prescription, make sure to take the exact dosage prescribed and do not let anyone else in your home take or access your medication. If you are still worried, ask your doctor if he or she can prescribe a drug that is less addictive. You can also ask your doctor if you can try any natural remedies for pain relief.
Remember, though, that addiction has its roots in the mind and spirit. Taking care of those can help you to cope with all the emotions that you might face.
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