By Scott Sanders
The physical effects of cancer are downright debilitating, and considering it’s the second-leading cause of death next to heart disease, the psychological and emotional side effects are equally taxing on one’s spirit. Many patients experience anxiety, depression and adjustment disorders. Because of this, cancer treatment centers nationwide are starting to incorporate specific wellness programs to address these symptoms. If your care provider doesn’t offer access to mental health professionals specializing in cancer patients, consider asking for a referral in your community. But there’s no need to rely on a medical setting alone. There are several ways you can practice self-care and spiritual wellness on your own watch
- Put Yourself First: Before practicing any form of self-care, you have to commit to putting yourself first. While this may take a bit of getting used to, it’s crucial in order to make time to heal yourself spiritually and emotionally. You’re going through an extremely challenging period, so don’t look at this as a selfish act. By making yourself a priority, you can possibly overcome feelings of depression, angst and fear.
- Get A Life Coach: Cancer can deplete a patient’s self-esteem, which can negatively affect their ability to manage practical, social and emotional issues post-treatment. Studies suggest that working with a life coach can rebuild confidence while preparing for life after treatment. While each patient to coach relationship differs, sessions generally help a cancer patient:
- Get through the shock of diagnosis
- Craft a healing plan
- Set realistic goals
- Cope with treatments and side effects
- Research any applicable information in relation to their health — to include natural remedies
- Become educated on ways to minimize progression and/or recurrence
- Build Your Social Circle
Having the support of friends and family is key, but nobody can truly understand what you’re going through like fellow cancer patients and survivors. There are copious support groups — some of which give you one-on-one attention — to help you talk through your emotions and share experiences. It’s not uncommon for patients establish relationships that last longer than the length of treatment.
- Get A Beauty Boost
Cancer greatly alters one’s appearance, which can have a serious impact on self-esteem. This is why there are organizations that work with hospitals to provide beauty treatments to cancer patients. It’s no surprise that research reveals that 86 percent of women who receive hair and makeup services feel better about themselves afterward. If your treatment facility doesn’t offer this type of program, check with salons in the area. Many licensed professionals cater to cancer patients.
- Incorporate Relaxation Techniques
Deep-breathing techniques can be performed anywhere, so they’re the perfect arsenal against stress whenever it strikes — just make sure to speak to your doctor if you had surgery that affects your abdominal muscles. Yoga, mindfulness, visualization and meditation can also reduce anxiety. Body and energy work like massage are also effective, but look for someone specifically trained to work with cancer patients first.
- Tap Into Your Spiritual Side
Studies conclude that prayer can relieve stress because religion and faith provide stability, happiness, support and positivity. If you’re not part of a spiritual community, try making little changes to tap into your inner-self such as distancing yourself from electronics, meditating, exercising and keeping a gratitude journal.
A well-rounded cancer treatment plan incorporates both pain management and mental health techniques. Some days, the physical side effects may make it difficult to handle the psychological ones. Just keep in mind that even the smallest effort can help you get through a rough patch with a more positive outlook.
Scott Sanders is an author of cancer support materials. Please see his website for additional resources!