Self-Care for the Cancer Patient
Cancer as a chronic illness places new demands on patients and families to manage their own care.
Self-care includes managing the medical aspects of the illness, managing life roles, and managing the consequences of chronic illness. This involves problem-solving, decision making, resource utilization, and working closely with healthcare providers.
Self-care is really any activity that cares for your mental, emotional, or physical health.
For a cancer survivor, self-care is not being selfish, it is putting yourself first. I have learned that by caring for myself in all aspects of health, I am better able to manage my disease and feel healthier.
The following are some strategies that I have utilized.
Learning a new skill
Explore an adult education class at a local college or choose a hobby that you may have not had time for in the past. I decided to practice yoga, which has cleared my mind and is something that I find very relaxing.
Write it out
Many find that making a list of what they are grateful for each day helps them feel less stressed and more likely to appreciate the small things. I use a journal to capture my thoughts, accomplishments or dreams.
Keep it simple
When possible use a shortcut, like buying pre-cut salads and vegetables at the grocery store or using a meal delivery service. I have planned healthier meals with these salads and take out meals.
Plan to exercise
Endorphins are released during exercise. A short walk outdoors or a trip to the gym can do wonders for your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Exercise is not my favorite activity, but I realize its importance. It’s funny how good I feel afterward, so I try to reward myself as a motivation.
Take a time-out from your electronics
Many of us have become almost addicted to the instant gratification of our cell phones, social media, and emails. Unplug for a period of time each day and enjoy a book or listen to the sounds of your surroundings. I find sitting on my front porch and enjoying the sounds of birds, the fragrance of the lilacs, and general peace of being unplugged to be most relaxing.
The above suggestions are not new. What is new is giving yourself permission to enjoy life’s pleasures. I plan to make an appointment for reflexology this afternoon as a reward for a busy day. Hopefully, you too will find an activity and put yourself first.
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