Guest post by Hazel Bridges
A cancer diagnosis forces one to confront their own mortality, which can take a dramatic toll emotionally and psychologically.
But living with this disease does not have to be a constant struggle as many patients, doctors and caregivers have found ways to alleviate the mental suffering, ultimately leading to a healthy state of mind and spiritual well-being in spite of it all.
STAY PHYSICALLY ACTIVE
A healthy mind starts with a healthy body, and that’s as true for cancer patients as everyone else.
Exercise has been shown to have a strong impact on well-being post-diagnosis. One expert puts a number to it with the ideal amount of physical activity at about 150 hours per week.
Of course, patients also need to maintain a healthy weight and a diet rich in plant foods and whole grains.
A light workout also provides a host of psychological benefits, including reduced stress, relaxation and improved sleep. It can even help patients achieve higher levels of confidence and put their strength into recovery from cancer therapies that are often tiring and painful.
FOCUS YOUR POSITIVE ENERGY
For decades, yoga has been promoted as a method of achieving harmony between your mind, body and spirit, so it’s no wonder that it’s been used to help cancer patients overcome the emotional turbulence of their condition. While some methods may be strenuous, others focus on meditation and breathing to the same desired effect.
The end results are different depending on who you ask. While some practitioners claim that yoga helps calm the mind cope with stress, others say it is more effective in reducing pain, fatigue and depression.
In all cases the outcome is positive, which doctors have noted in the increased well-being of their patients.
TAP YOUR CREATIVE POTENTIAL
According to the results of a study published in Jama Internal Medicine, therapies focused on the arts were successful in reducing the pain, depression and anxiety associated with cancer, leading to a higher quality of life overall. This may be due to restorative powers of expressing your negative emotions as a form of catharsis.
Author and artist Sally Loughridge did precisely that by spending 20 minutes each day painting during her chemotherapy and jotting down her feelings in a journal. This effort resulted in a book titled “Rad Art: A Journey Through Radiation Treatment.”
In an article on Cancer.org, Loughridge said, “If you can get the negative feelings outside of yourself – get it expressed – it can take some of the negative power away.”
TAKE TO THE OUTDOORS
Spend a few moments picturing where you feel the most at peace. Is it a forest? Perhaps a sandy beach next to the ocean as the waves lap at the shore? There’s a reason for this: Natural settings are a source of restorative power, which is why we enjoy hiking or having a picnic under the sun.
“Nature provides patients with unburdened physical and psychic space invested with personal significance,” according to one study, which goes on to explain how it serves as a base from which patients can find new perspectives on their predicament and discover connections between themselves and others.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH LOVED ONES
Friends and family could be the most important element in well-being as it provides crucial support in times of emotional trouble.
It’s important to make time for activities while communicating openly with everyone involved about what you can and cannot do as a result of your condition. That leaves plenty of activities such as shopping, playing cards or gardening, which in good company can lift your mood and remind you that you’re not alone in the fight.
All of these efforts will help you keep a positive attitude, which could be the most important factor of all in attaining a state of spiritual tranquility and well-being despite what your physical body is up against.
Image via Pixabay
Hazel Bridges is the creator of AgingWellness.org, a website that aims to provide health and wellness resources for aging seniors. She’s a breast cancer survivor. She challenges herself to live life to the fullest and inspire others to do so as well.