Countless people have been touched by cancer, whether through their own battle or that of a loved one. For many, fighting cancer is the hardest thing they’ll ever do. If you’re facing your own cancer journey, the most important thing you can do is make your own personal wellness a priority by taking care of your physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Cancer treatment takes a toll on your body. Taking care of your physical health is an important part of staying resilient in the face of draining treatments and side effects.
Make healthy routines a priority. This is the time to finally make those diet changes and start drinking more water. Give yourself plenty of time for rest each night, and commit to laying down even if you’re having trouble sleeping. Although as many as half of all cancer patients experience insomnia, according to OncoLink, nonpharmacologic treatments like relaxation therapy and improved sleep hygiene help in 70 to 80 percent of cases.
Do you know that exercise can ease pain? When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that reduce your perception of pain and promote relaxation. It’s not easy to exercise when you’re in pain, but it’s okay to take it slow. Yoga, walking, tai chi, and even just stretching can make a big difference. Acupuncture is one of the most powerful treatments for pain management.
If you’re prescribed opioids for pain, monitor yourself for signs of addiction and always follow your prescription. If you think your prescription is no longer suitable, talk to the prescribing physician before making changes. Opioid addiction is a serious concern, and chronic users are at an increased risk.
You’re going to go through a lot of emotions during your cancer journey. From the anger and grief of diagnosis to the stress and frustration of having your life turned upside down, it’s a lot for anyone to handle. Anxiety and depression aren’t uncommon, but many cancer patients are reluctant to share their feelings for fear of burdening their loved ones.
It’s essential to address problems with your emotional health. According to the American Cancer Society, depression can cause difficulties in adhering to treatment regimens and making healthy lifestyle choices. Even if you’re not comfortable opening up to loved ones, your doctor can help you find treatment and learn healthy ways of coping with difficult emotions. Some genetic mutations have a direct effect on emotional balance and anxiety. Getting tested for MTHFR and COMT V158M will help you identify what is needed for your unique DNA to help your emotional well being.
Spiritual wellness isn’t about following the teachings of one faith or another. It’s about finding meaning in our lives and the values that define us. Seeking spirituality while living with cancer is a powerful way to bring peace and comfort to your life.
Spiritual practices can take many forms. You may to choose to reconnect with the religious practices of your youth, or you might find solace in something new. Rather than subscribing to a prescriptive vision of spirituality, seek the practices that bring you the most inner peace. Perhaps you’ll find comfort in meditation, energy healing, or immersing yourself in ancient spiritual texts. Or perhaps you’ll find it’s physical practices like yoga, tai chi, and qigong that inspire and uplift you. You might practice these on their own or incorporate them into a spiritual life that also includes involvement in a faith community. There’s no right answer; it’s about finding what suits you.
If we were to name all the things that are difficult about having cancer, we would be here forever. But one of the very hardest parts is feeling like your own life is out of your control. By taking action to improve your physical, mental, and spiritual wellness, you take some of that power back into your own hands.
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