10 Ways to Get Through the Hard Days

It’s been a hard day. Honestly, it has been a hard week. My numbers are all looking pretty good, but my body somehow missed the memo. I feel poorly, and I am so tired that I dream about being tired. My bottle of oral chemo and I are currently in a staredown, and I know who is going to win.

I am normally very optimistic, and I rarely complain. Life just has not been going as smoothly as I have wanted it to lately. I would be lying if I said that I was not feeling financially, physically, and emotionally stressed. I am craving a hug and some genuine human affection and reassurance, but there is no one here to help me through this storm. It is up to me to find refuge in any place I can.

There are gonna be hard days

I’ve lived long enough to know that not every day will be a walk in the park or a frolic at the beach. And I had hard days long before cancer came along.

I knew that a myeloma diagnosis would bring its fair share of difficulties, but the hard now comes in different and more intense flavors. It can feel helpless, some days even impossible. And it's heavier now, weighed down with nagging fears of loss of security, independence, and life itself.

How to get through hard days

A few months ago, I began seeing a counselor at my local cancer center. I didn’t think I needed the help at the time, but it has actually been quite a relief to have someone to talk with. On our most recent visit, we discussed how to deal with tough times. We brainstormed some strategies we can use to make those hard days feel not quite so hard.

  • Remind ourselves this is temporary. The hardest part about the hard days is the uncertainty of how long they will last. We can get through them much easier if we see them as a temporary bump in the road.
  • Call or visit a supportive friend or family member. I rarely reach out to others when I am feeling poorly, so I know this is not easy. Thankfully, my daughter called today, and I cheered up immediately.
  • Make a nurturing toolbox. We know the hard days will come, so why not plan ahead with a toolbox filled with things that nurture our spirits? Fill it with good books to read and movies to watch. Toss in some bath salts, a bottle of wine, prepared foods - anything that will lift the mood and turn a bad day into a better day.
  • Be creative. Write or draw or paint. Dance if you can. Get those feelings out constructively and creatively. Writing this article has been a great way for me to focus on solutions rather than problems.
  • Reach for better feeling thoughts. Our thoughts are powerful, and all we really want is to feel good. So instead of thinking of how crummy we are feeling, we can choose to think about the things that make us feel better. Even if we do think about the hard stuff, we can do so in softer, more optimistic ways.
  • Look for distractions. There is not a lot to be gained by thinking about how bad or difficult things are. Working on a puzzle or playing with the dog can help our minds free some of that stuck energy. Oftentimes, I find that distractions help the solutions become clearer than the problems.
  • Move. This is the last thing I want to do when I’m not feeling well, but a short walk with my dog or a few yoga stretches almost always helps me feel better.
  • Meditate. Our minds’ constant chatter and negative self-talk don't tend to help our hard days. I do deep breathing exercises and listen to guided meditations and inspirational podcasts to help my mind get out of its negative loop.
  • Dote on ourselves. We must show ourselves the same compassion and care as we would the people we love the most. Whether it’s ordering takeout, taking a nap or a bath, or going on a leisurely walk, caring for ourselves is essential to getting through the hardest days.
  • Remain hopeful. It is so easy to get swallowed up in the what ifs, the whys, and the longing for better days. Even if there is nothing else we can grab onto at the moment, there is always a glimmer of hope.

Sometimes we just gotta hang on

We are all stronger than we think. But there are those days that will challenge that notion as well. Sometimes all we can do is what Franklin Roosevelt suggested when he said, “When you come to the end of your rope, tie, and knot and hang on.” And remember that many of us in this community are hanging on right there with you.

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