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

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