5 Ways To Institute Self-Care If You Have Cancer

Article by Scott Sanders for The Pearl Day Spa

Cancer can lead to socioeconomic problems, depression and social isolation, but  a self-care program can help boost self-esteem and self-efficacy while increasing spiritual awareness. Incorporating a combination of techniques within your treatment plan is proven to be more effective than traditional treatment alone, so take time every day to put yourself first.  

1. Do Activities You Enjoy

Going through cancer treatment doesn’t mean you need to completely put your life on hold. Participating in regular activities and hobbies can give you a semblance of normalcy in your life while distracting you from the side effects of treatment. Consider trying a new activity to help boost self-esteem in the process. If you’re feeling up to it, try to maintain rituals like Sunday morning coffee with friends or date night with a spouse so you don’t become disconnected from your life before cancer. 

2. Stay Active To Some Degree

While you want to check with your doctor so you don’t overdo it, there are several benefits that stem from regular exerciseduring treatment. The type, stage and treatment program as well as your current stamina, strength, and fitness level will determine how often you can get physical activity, but positive side effects include:

●     Prevention of loss of muscle mass due to inactivity

●     Maintained or improved physical ability

●      Improved balance (lower risk of falls and broken bones)

●      A boost in mood and self-esteem

●      Lower risk of heart disease, osteoporosis

●      Stress reduction

●      Improved quality of life

●      Less fatigue and nausea

●      Less dependency on others

3. Eat Nutritious Foods

It can be difficult to eat through cancer treatment due to severe nausea, but it’s important to try to eat a nutritious dietwhenever you can. Experts suggest lean protein (think fish, chicken, eggs, beans, dairy), healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil and fruits and vegetables of all colors. If you’re feeling nauseous, opt for plain pasta, rice, or noodles; saltine crackers; oatmeal; and ginger and peppermint teas and chews. If you have no appetite, experiment with more frequent, smaller meals and/or high-protein shakes, soups, or smoothies. When food starts to smell good again, you know you’re on the road to recovery. 

4. Embrace Spiritual Awareness

Spiritual awareness is an important part of treatment as studies showthat it can improve cancer patients’ health. This type of soul-searching can be experienced through music, the arts, nature, or a specific experience that inspires gratitude. Practices such as mindfulness, meditation and prayer can also help one achieve a spiritual connection. 

Benefits of spiritual wellness include: 

●     Increased feelings of inner peace and optimism

●     A reduction in anger, depression, anxiety and stress

●     Enhanced quality of life

●     Coping techniques to help you handle the trauma of diagnosis and treatment

5. Use Opioids Wisely

Studies indicate that cancer patients are at a higher risk for opioid dependency — 1 in 10 individuals become chronic opioid users after treatment despite not having a need for the drug. It all comes down to education. Make sure your doctor is thoroughly explaining how to use opioids for pain managementto include how much and how often. The drug should only be taken as a last resort if medication like Tylenol and Motrin doesn’t work. 

Cancer can feel like an unpredictable roller-coaster ride. Feelings of fear, uncertainty, and stress are coupled with moments of happiness, joy, and gratitude. Self-care can be extremely helpful in managing stress and your overall constitution. When both are under control, you’ll feel better physically and mentally, which can help you cope with treatment — and life afterwards. 

For more information like this visit www.cancerwell.org

Photo Credit:Pixabay

Tips & Tricks for Healing After a Car Accident

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Car Accidents are scary and unsettling. Whether a fender bender or a major collision, car accidents can trigger a whole host of emotions. My son and I had what I have been calling a "medium car accident."  "Medium," because no one was critically injured. "Medium," because our car was totaled and smashed real good, and I sustained "Whiplash" (sprains and strains of the spine, rib attachments, and hip joints), smashed elbows, and my son and I were extremely shaken up.

I was in serious shock for 24 hrs, and still had pretty serious "brain fog" (difficulty focusing and reading) for about 2 weeks. I was very sensitive and worked up. My son was luckily O.K. He, too, had been shaken up and rattled by the crash. He was obsessed with wanting to look at the car and talk about the crash. He was irritable and extra sensitive (he is 3....lots of big feelings) for a week. This event left me sore and upset. It reminded me how little we can control.....Then, I felt really grateful!

Since the accident so many things have worked out well. I'm almost all healed up! We got another car and car seat. Good Reminder: A Car Seat That Has Been In A Car Accident Must Be Replaced! Many Insurance Companies Will Pay for a Replacement! And I feel increasingly grateful that we were not injured worse! Getting to this positive happy-puppy dogs-and-rainbows outlook did not happen over night, and has taken dedication to healing. Here are some important things you can do if by some unfortunate event you end up having an auto accident:

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1) Go to Urgent Care or see your doctor as soon as possible.                                      
If you are injured, even if it seems like just a little bit, a once-over by a doctor or nurse practitioner is not a bad idea. Many times someone can have a concussion and have no idea! Often we are not totally aware of what exactly happened to our body during a collision. We're a little preoccupied by trying to stay safe to notice if maybe we hit our head...or possibly have a minor break. Often, you can apply the cost of the visit to your claim, even if you go before you receive a claim number. Make sure the office knows it's due to an auto accident. They can help!

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2) Seek out a Chiropractor.                                                                           "Whiplash" A.K.A. Sprains and Strains of the neck, spine, hips, arms, legs, jaw, ect., are very common injuries after a car accident. At first I was in shock but as the day went on my hips and neck and ribs felt awful. You may not fully know how injured you are for a few days...possibly even up to 6 weeks. Having a good advocate who can help you is key! A chiro can directly help reset the body by aligning joints, which can lessen pain, help restore range of motion to the body and help reset the brain-body connection back to "normal." Chiropractors are also great resources because they can be a hub for referrals! Insurance likes you to be under a doctor's care and to have a doctor's referral to do most anything....and A Chiro Is A Doc! Yay!  Obviously keep in good contact with your insurance to be sure that all services will be covered. Dot those I's and cross those T's when it comes to insurance...Don't assume. Usually, insurance is good about helping. At your first Chiro appt, you can talk to them about a massage referral, and a physical therapy referral for down the road.

3) Seek out a Massage Therapist                                                                           

With referral and claim information in hand, you have what you need to find a Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT). Up front, let whomever you're talking to know this treatment is related to an auto accident. Many LMT's, clinics, and even our Pearl Day Spa, can bill an auto claim for treatment. Massage is a wonderful and supportive way to heal form a motor vehicle accident, though I may be biased as I am an LMT of almost 13 years. I have personally aided many clients through auto accident injuries. Massage helps restore range of motion, reduce inflammation, soothe the autonomic nervous system, support joints staying aligned, and is a supportive place to feel safe and validated while you're healing and possibly feeling vulnerable. I have been receiving great care from a friend whom I work with at the spa. She has really helped my hip specifically. Over time she has helped all the muscles to calm down, loosen up, and helped my pelvis to remain aligned. If, as you heal, your notice you're still not quite getting over the hump, physical therapy may be in the cards.

4) Seeking out a Physical Therapist.                                                                       

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Once again, have that claim number and referral ready. And once again, make sure they know this is due to a motor vehicle accident. Then let the PT do their magic! I have yet to see my PT. I have an upcoming sequence of appointments set up and am looking forward to all of them! PT offers something really amazing. PT is another way to support the mind/body connection. Often after an accident, weakness or over firing (over compensating) can occur in certain muscle groups. This can in turn cause imbalance and pain throughout the body. A well-trained PT has the training to muscle test. This allows them to see what muscles are not doing their job, or which muscles are overworking themselves. After they take you through many muscle tests, stretches (such as having you flex your bicep with a little resistance or isolating the hamstrings to see how they are or are not working) then the real work begins. The PT gives you very special exercises and or stretches that continue to support joint stability, alignment, reduce pain (though, through PT you may have some soreness in the beginning), and increase strength.

5) Other Useful Tips                                                                                             

ICE! ICE! ICE! And Rest! It's easy to get impatient and feel like, "Hey! I'm busy! I don't have time to slow down and rest..." But let me say, Yes You Can! And your body will thank you for showing it a little grace while it's healing. In fact, proper rest from exercise and house work...for a few weeks...and a good icing routine can expedite healing and support the work you're seeking out. Allow those adjustments and massage time to do their job. I fully understand how difficult this can be. I'm a busy working mama...lyin' low is a challenge for me. But, I took 3 weeks off from the gym (Not easy for me!) and let some house work take a back seat while I let myself rest...and even squeezed in a few naps. Let me say, it Made A Huge Difference! 

I, of course, hope you are never in an auto accident, but if you or someone you know has the unfotunate luck of getting into one, I hope these tips can help you or your loved one heal faster, feel better, and help you to feel more informed and empowered with your care.

May you be well,

Lily

Developing a Healthy Body Image through Bodywork

Body Image

Learning to Love Who We Are

The statistics are alarming. The majority of U.S. women–some estimate more than 80 percent–are unhappy with their appearance. At least 10 million young women, and 1 million young men have an eating disorder. Girls as young as 6 and 7 are expressing disapproval of their looks, and most fourth-grade girls are already diet veterans. Most unsettling is the fact that more women, and girls, fear becoming fat than they do dying.

Combating the Images

How do you see yourself?

Are you content with the person looking back at you from the mirror each morning or do you frown in frustration? Unfortunately, many of us are unhappy with the person looking back. Whether it’s lamenting about having a pear-shaped figure instead of an hourglass, or exhibiting more serious, self-hating body dysmorphic disorders, body image is under siege in our celebrity-fixated society. While Madison Avenue continues to airbrush photos of svelte, 120-pound supermodels for magazine covers, others are trying to teach young girls to love their bodies, beautiful imperfections and all. One way to combat the Hollywood hype and to create an appreciation for the bodies we have is through hands-on massage and bodywork.

Why Massage Affects Body Perception

Being unhappy with our bodies has serious, and sometimes lifelong, ramifications. Feelings of unworthiness and self-loathing can set up a lifetime of self-deprecating behaviors. What regularly scheduled massage allows us to do is “get back” into our bodies and reconnect with ourselves. Massage can help us release physical and mental patterns of tension, enhancing our ability to experience our bodies (regardless of their shape and size) in a more positive way. Just as it facilitates our ability to relax, massage also encourages an awareness of the body, often allowing us to more clearly see and identify destructive behaviors, including overeating or purging.Massage also creates a sense of nurturing that is especially powerful when it comes to poor body image. Accepting the nonjudgmental touch of a trained therapist goes a long way toward rebuilding an appreciation and respect for your own body. If we find acceptance for who we are and how we look, we are giving ourselves permission to live comfortably in the skin we have.The Value of Massage

Research shows that touch is a powerful ally in the quest for physical and mental health. Not only does it help us be more in tune with our bodies, it can also helps restore a sense of “wholeness” that is often lost in our segmented, over scheduled lives. When we regain that connection, it’s much easier to remember that our bodies are something to be cherished, nurtured, and loved, not belittled, betrayed, and forgotten.Valuable for every age and every body type, massage and bodywork have innumerable benefits. Here are a few:

– Alleviates low-back pain and improves range of motion.
– Decreases medication dependence.
– Eases anxiety and depression.
– Enhances immunity by stimulating lymph flow.
– Exercises and stretches weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
– Increases joint flexibility.
– Improves circulation by pumping oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs.
– Releases endorphins–the body’s natural painkiller.

Every Shape and Size

No matter what a client weighs, massage and bodywork therapists are trained to appreciate all bodies, without judgment, and to deliver the best care possible. As in any session, a therapist’s goal is to create an environment that feels safe and nurturing for clients, all while delivering much needed therapeutic touch. For heavier clients, some minor adjustments might be needed in the delivery of the bodywork, but its nurturing, therapeutic, nonjudgmental role will remain unchanged.

Through the Scars

We also have to remember that a negative body image is not necessarily about those few extra pounds on the hips. It might instead be tied to the scars of past injuries and surgeries. Massage can help here, too. For burn victims, research has shown massage can help in the healing process, while for post-surgery breast cancer patients, massage and bodywork can reintegrate a battered body and spirit. In addition to softening scar tissue and speeding post-surgery recovery, massage and bodywork for these clients is about respect, reverence, and learning to look at, and beyond, the scars.

Finding the Stillness

Experts say that when the tissues start to let go and relax under a massage therapist’s hands, profound shifts occur emotionally and physically. A softening happens, and the brain and body begin to integrate again. The chasm between body and mind that created the eating disorder, or fueled the negative body image, begins to narrow. In her book, “Molecules of Emotion,” Georgetown University Medical School professor Candace Pert explains that the body is the “actual outward manifestation, in physical space, of the mind.” She says that if we generate negative energy in response to our appearance, it can eventually find its way into reality. Self-acceptance, then, is paramount for living well, and massage/bodywork is a healthy path to get you there. Finding the stillness in a massage session allows you to just “be,” without judgment. Partner that with the comfort that comes from allowing your body to be nurtured by someone else, and we begin to remember our value, regardless of our outward appearance, or what we perceive it to be.

Posted on December 22, 2017 and filed under Self-care, Mental Wellness.

Don't love drinking water? Foods that hydrate better than water!

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Even in the dead of winter I've got hydration on my mind, and my mind on hydration.. Too much indoor heat and not enough water can leave skin feeling crepey and tight.  Some foods are actually better at hydrating your body than water, which is great if you find it challenging to drink 8 glasses of plain agua a day.

'To be properly hydrated, you need to replace fluid lost from the body with one that's similar to the body's natural composition,' says Dr Susan Shirreffs, exercise physiologist and hydration expert at Loughborough University.

'Watery fruit and vegetables often contain levels of minerals and sugar that mirror this, so they can hydrate you more effectively than water alone.'

Watermelon is a hydration superstar composed of 92 percent water, eight percent sugar and contains essential rehydration salts calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium.

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Watermelon is rich in Vitamin C as well as beta carotene and lycopene which will give the body some protection from UV light. A University of Naples study found that plant chemicals lutein and zeaxanthin - found in fruit such as watermelon and papaya - help hydrate twice as much as water.

Because chia seeds absorb thirty times their weight in water, they help regulate body fluid levels and retain electrolytes, both imoprtant for staying saucy. During times of high indoor heat, chia seeds are a tasty way to prolong hydration.

Other hydrating veggie snacks include celery & cucumber.  A crunchy handful of mineral-rich celery sticks replenish levels of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. These salts help carry the 96 per cent water in which they are dissolved around the body--making them ideal for maximum hydration.

Stay juicy.

-Karen Corbin

Posted on December 12, 2017 and filed under Self-care, Healthy Living.