Dr. David Buscher, D.Ac. here: I've been seeing more people with cancer lately, helping them remain calm and positive, supporting their wellness goals, and minimizing the side effects of chemotherapy. Coincidentally I've been in contact with Scott Sanders, creator of cancerwell.org and author of a forthcoming book on the importance of self-care during cancer treatment. I'm turning over the rest of this post to him for a quick overview on the topic.
Dealing with Cancer Is Hard, but Self-Care and Spiritual Wellness Don't Have to Be
by Scott Sanders
Are you struggling to find spiritual peace while dealing with cancer? Know you are not alone. Cancer, though a disease of the body, has a habit to doing damage to the mind and soul as well. Even treatment can leave you tired, worn out and at the end of your wits. People want you to be a warrior but really you just want to feel normal again. If you are having issues finding spiritual tranquility, self-care may be a way to disconnect from the physical and mental pain and feel some control over yourself again. Wondering what kind of self-care you need to soothe your soul? Take the following tips to heart.
Stay As Active As You Can
When you’re living with or being treated for cancer, even the simplest of tasks can be taxing on your physical and emotional strength. It’s tempting to give in and settle into a sedentary routine but, in reality, you still need to stay active. Physical activity helps strengthen the body and clear the mind, so try finding easy ways to get some exercise in throughout each week. Go for a short walk or practice a simple yoga routine.
Find Peace in the Present
Studies show that mindfulness, or staying focused on the present, can help people find peace and calm in their life. Cancer may cause your mind to wander and stress about the future, or think about regrets and the past. Being able to focus on a single moment or object, and take in the beauty it has to offer is much more beneficial to your spirit. Mindfulness practices, like meditation, will help you think through difficult times and search for strength within yourself. These practices can also help take your mind off of pain and stress, if you focus on basic concepts like breathing instead of letting your mind race.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Cancer can be a source of severe physical pain but often the most painful effects are those that impact your mind. When you’re dealing with a serious disease, it’s understandable to feel stressed, anxious, afraid and depressed. You may even be angry. Everyone experiences illness differently but what’s universal is the need to express emotions positively and seek professional help when needed. Consider visiting a counselor to keep your mental health in check. You can also opt for group counseling or support groups, if that offers more solace. If you start having thoughts of suicide, seek help immediately at the closest emergency room or call 911.
Try to Relax and Rest
The physical, psychological, and emotional effects of cancer can make it difficult to get decent rest. Yet, your body, mind and soul need sleep and relaxation to heal. Talk to your doctor about ways to make relaxation a little easier. He/she may be able to prescribe medications or treatments that will help put your mind at ease and allow you to get some real rest. It can also be helpful to create comfort and calm at home, especially in your bedroom, or wherever you can get the most rest. Keep your room cool and avoid using harsh lighting. Invest in some soft pillows, to support your entire body, and change your sheets out for ones that feel comforting on your skin.
Supplement Your Treatment
Chances are, you have a busy schedule with chemo and doctor’s appointments. Quality medical care can make a difference your treatment, you could benefit from the addition of alternative care. Many cancer patients find comfort in using complementary treatments, such as acupuncture and medicinal plants and herbs, as complementary care to their traditional treatments. Talk to your healthcare team about supplemental therapies that could enhance your treatment or at least provide relief from pain and other side effects.
Cancer takes such a toll on your body and mind. Practicing self-care may seem trivial but attaining spiritual peace may help ease the pains you feel. At the least, taking care of yourself will help you feel a bit of control over your life and the way you live it while struggling with cancer.
Scott Sanders is the creator of CancerWell.org, which provides resources and support for anyone who has been affected by any form of cancer. He is also the author of the book Put Yourself First: A Guide to Self-care and Spiritual Wellness During and After Cancer Treatment, coming Summer 2018.