Staying as Healthy as Possible (Part 2)
Last updated: December 2022
As we all know, cancer takes a toll on our bodies. Eating healthy and moving often are two great ways to try to keep ourselves in the best condition we can. But sleeping well and keeping stress to a minimum is also important. While Crystal was in treatment, she was in bed a lot, but her sleep wasn’t always restful. She had headaches, nausea, dry mouth, and a lot on her mind. She felt stressed and tired a lot. Other people that I know have felt the same way. This is a good time to evaluate your lifestyle and make a few changes if you can. It wouldn’t hurt and it might help you to feel better.
Sleep - It’s a healer
Sleeping helps our bodies in so many ways. I find getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night is needed, as this is the time our body repairs itself. But this may be difficult when in treatment. Nothing is normal right now, but maybe a few things will help. Sometimes there is so much on our minds, it makes it difficult to get rest. Having a sleep journal may be beneficial. Writing your thoughts, fears, and goals for the future is a way to get them on paper and off your mind. This alone may help you to sleep better. Having as much of a sleep routine as you can may aid in getting needed rest. Turning off the TV and electronics is also beneficial and may help you to get a deep and more refreshing sleep. Of course, getting out and doing some walking may help you to feel a little tired at the end of the day. The key to this is to walk as early as possible.
- Have a routine.
- Do not eat 2 hours before bed.
- Turn off electronics 2 hours before bed.
- Journal to help get things off your mind.
- Take a warm shower or bath.
- Read, but don’t read something that will be hard to put down.
- Do not exercise close to bedtime, do this earlier in the day.
- Keep your room cool and dark.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time.
As Crystal battled cancer, she slept in a dark room and we kept it as cool as possible for her. On her better weeks, she took walks which helped to get a better night’s sleep. This was definitely a difficult time for Crystal as it is for anyone going through cancer. Getting the sleep you need is important. Let your body be your guide and when it needs rest, rest.
Stress is part of cancer
Hearing the words, “You have cancer" produces stress right after the shock of those words wear off. Everything about cancer is stressful. So what can you do? My best suggestions are to try meditation, prayer, have someone to talk to, and exercise. Those are the normal everyday type of suggestions, but if you’re up to it, maybe you could try a massage, acupuncture, or take an expressive writing class. Doing any of these activities will cost a bit of money, which may be tight, but right now you need to take care of yourself. This could also be the thing you ask for when people want to know what they can do to help. Doing any of these things will get you out of the house and talking to people which may help to calm your stress. Sometimes the change of scenery is the best medicine. There are many people who feel stress contributed to their cancer diagnosis. Whatever the case, too much stress is harmful to us. Deep slow breathing and journaling may also help. The important thing is to try some of these techniques and see what works best for you so you can try to get through this as stress-free as possible.
There is so much more to say here, but here are a few tips:
- Keep an appointment book with you.
- Set reminders on your phone to help with your schedule.
- Journal - Write down what’s bothering you. If you don’t feel comfortable having your thoughts on paper, then tear it up when you're done. Sometimes getting it out will help a lot.
- Keep a list of questions to ask your doctor - put it in your appointment book or in memos on your phone.
- Take an early morning walk alone or with a friend - this helps you to release built-up cortisol and lower your stress.
- Meditation, prayer, and deep breathing exercises may also help.
As Crystal went through her treatments, she journaled, shared her story with others on social media, walked (exercise is a big stress reliever), and she used acupuncture. Although she still had stress, these things seemed to help her.
Doing what you can
Cancer is a scary disease that wreaks havoc on your body. Doing everything you can tolerate will help you to get through the treatments and may even lead to a healthier lifestyle once treatments are done. This is what happened for Crystal and she is feeling so much better. I hope some of these ideas help you too!
As always, wishing you health and happiness!
Read Part 1 of Staying as Healthy as Possible.
What blood cancer were you diagnosed with?