Everyone lives with dreams, plans, a desire to do something, achieve something. They have goals, short term and long term, and vision for their family and future. When all of a sudden they get to know that they have cancer, it can break them. Anyone living a healthy and happy life may face this unfortunate event.
And after it, everything changes. Life may never become what it was before. It’s nothing but natural to get stressed, anxious and lose mental peace in this situation. You all know a healthy mind and a healthy body – both are needed to fight cancer. So, it becomes crucial to find ways to maintain mental health.
How to take care of mental health:
Walk and Exercise:
Going for a walk is supposed to be a physical exercise, but it helps you keep mentally healthy as well. Walking outside the house gives you fresh air, you get to see people, and gives you a small change to your daily routine or work. In short, it can give you a quick relaxation and a break from your chain of thoughts you were having otherwise sitting at home.
When you find time to walk daily, once or twice a day, you actually improve your physical and mental health significantly. Many cancer patients have reported that their daily walking routine has helped them during cancer treatment in more than one way.
How much to walk?
Well, you can decide on that as per your strength. You can walk a few kilometres if your doctor permits. Or, just a slow walk in the neighbourhood can be helpful too. If you have time and strength, please create a routine for exercise as well. Physical activity keeps you mentally fit as well.
Eating well may actually help you feel better and give you more energy. It’s important to do your best to eat the right amount of calories to maintain a good weight. Adequate protein can help to keep up your strength, too.
Sometimes, especially during or soon after treatment, you may not feel like eating. Some treatments can leave you feeling tired and uncomfortable. Or you may find that some foods don’t taste as good as they used to.
In addition, the side effects of treatment (such as poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or mouth blisters) can make it hard to eat well. On the other hand, some women treated for breast cancer may have a problem with weight gain.
Your doctor, a registered dietitian, or another healthcare provider can suggest ways to help you meet your nutrition needs and remain as close to a healthy weight as you can.
Try to maintain your normal lifestyle
Maintain your normal lifestyle, but be open to modifying it as necessary. Take one day at a time. It’s easy to overlook this simple strategy during stressful times. When the future is uncertain, organising and planning may suddenly seem overwhelming.
Consider how your diagnosis will impact your finances
Many unexpected financial burdens can arise as a result of a cancer diagnosis. Your treatment may require time away from work or an extended time away from home. Consider the additional costs of medications, medical devices, travelling for treatment and parking fees at the hospital.
Many clinics and hospitals keep lists of resources to help you financially during and after your cancer treatment. Talk with your health care team about your options.
Questions to ask include:
- Will I have to take time away from work?
- Do my friends and family need to take time away from work to be with me?
- Will my insurance pay for these treatments? and will it cover the cost of medications?
- How much will my out-of-pocket costs be?
- If insurance won’t pay for my treatment, are there assistance programs that can help?
- Do I qualify for disability benefits?
- How does my diagnosis affect my life insurance?
Talk to other people with cancer
Sometimes it will feel as if people who haven’t experienced a cancer diagnosis can’t fully understand how you’re feeling. It may help to talk to people who have been in your situation. Other cancer survivors can share their experiences and give you insight into what you can expect during treatment.
You can connect with other cancer survivors through support groups. Ask your doctor about support groups in your area or check online for these resources.
Keep a journal
It can be hard to remember feelings from a week ago, let alone the entire span of cancer treatment. Tracking one’s emotions on a daily basis can serve as a reminder for an individual to reflect on how they are feeling and aid in monitoring symptoms of mental health issues.
Join Yoga and Meditation sessions:
While Yoga, Pranayama can help you with improved physical and mental health, meditation can make you metally strong and help you stay balanced throughout the treatment.
Nowadays there are many online classes/applications where you can login and meditate. Many of these are free of cost. All you need to do is close your eyes and sit quietly for 15-20 minutes. This relaxes you, detaches you from the worries of cancer and prepares you for upcoming challenges.
Tips for family and friends
- Be sensitive to your loved one’s feelings, and encourage him or her to talk about them with you and other family members and friends.
- If your loved one is worried about money, look for the resources that may be able to help.
- Encourage your loved one to join a support group.
- Ask your loved one’s doctor for a referral to mental health and social support services.
- Help your loved one stay as active as possible. Physical activity has been linked to lower rates of depression, as well as lower rates of recurrence of certain kinds of cancer, among survivors.
- Respect Boundaries. Unless they ask for input, it is often best to not push a cancer patient on medical advice or treatment options they are not interested in.
Nobody can deny the challenges of a cancer patient and their family. Taking care of the mental health of the patient and family can keep their life normal during and after the treatment.
Please make use of resources available and help yourself, your friends and society.