Mental Health Tips For Cancer Survivors
Getting diagnosed with cancer, then going through treatments, plus surgeries and more will have a huge impact on not only your physical health but your mental health as well. And while hearing the words “cancer-free” has to be one of the most life-changing moments throughout your cancer journey, that doesn’t mean the mental effects of the disease won’t linger.
Whether you’ve been cancer-free for one month or one year, it can be difficult to navigate everything that you went through and are currently going through. To honor Mental Health Month, we’ll be bringing you some tips on how to take care of your mental well-being after beating cancer.
Do Things You Want
For a while, your life had been slightly out of your control. You were told how many treatments you’d have, what surgeries you needed, and what medications to consume. While you’ll still have to follow your doctor’s instructions to an extent, you’ll have the freedom to choose how you spend most of your time. Since you no longer have to be confined to a doctor’s office for sometimes eight or more hours a day, you have the opportunity to do what you want to do.
At the time, it may have felt like your life was only going to be doctor’s visits and chemotherapy. And now that you have the freedom, it may be a little difficult trying to figure out what you want to do. That’s a completely reasonable feeling! Sit down and allow yourself time to think of the future. What you want doesn’t have to be anything grand if you don’t want it to be. It can be something simple like visiting a place you love or buying something off of your wishlist. For some ideas, take a look at this post-cancer bucket list a breast cancer survivor made for herself.
Doing small (or big) things for yourself is a great way to boost your morale and overall mental health. You deserve to take back control of your life and do things that make you happy.
After the treatments and surgeries are over, it’s completely understandable if you aren’t feeling as confident as you normally would. However, feeling self-conscious or having low self-esteem for an extended period of time can severely influence your mental health. The good news is there are tons of things you can do to help boost your confidence and ultimately your mental well-being.
One common issue that most cancer survivors face is hair loss from chemotherapy treatments. There are a few different things you can try. If your hair is growing, but not as fast or evenly as you like, consider using a hair loss medication like Minoxidil to facilitate hair growth. Just make sure to speak with your doctor first to get clearance.
Another option that the American Cancer Society recommends is to purchase a high-quality wig. Choosing one similar to what your hair looked like before cancer can help you feel a sense of normalcy and control over your situation.
The last thing you want after hearing that you’re cancer-free is to experience other health problems. Making sure to listen to your doctors and adopt a healthy lifestyle is crucial during recovery. Despite having been said a million times, it doesn’t hurt to mention it again—exercise. Physical fitness is extremely important and can improve your health in a lot of ways. It can help keep you at a healthy weight, strengthen your body, and reduce the risk of mental health issues like anxiety and depression. There are exercise programs available to give you an idea of where to begin in case you’re struggling. Before doing any intense programs, make sure to consult with your doctor first to see if it’s okay.
Aside from that, there are other things that you should be doing, like eating healthy, refraining from tobacco and alcohol use, and more. To find more information about how to stay healthy, visit this page.
Connect With Others
Talk to people! If you’re feeling like you’re not in the best place mentally, don’t ignore it. Connect with someone in your community who is going through a similar situation as you. You never know who else might be struggling and need some interaction as well. Being able to express your thoughts and feelings to those who understand can give you a sense of camaraderie that you need. There’s also the option of talking to a therapist. If you think you need professional help, there’s no shame in that. Getting the help you need should never be a shameful act.
If you don’t want to reach out to strangers, just talking to a loved one can help. While they won’t have a complete understanding of everything you’re experiencing, they can still be that listening ear. Let yourself unload some of the stress, anxiety, or fear you’ve been bottling up, so someone else can support you through. Whether you need advice or just someone to listen to you, having someone you know is in your corner can make a world of difference.
Carol Michaels is the founder of Recovery Fitness, a cancer exercise program developed to improve recovery from cancer treatments. She is also an exercise specialist, health and wellness presenter, consultant, and author of Exercises for Cancer Survivors. You can learn more about Carol at CarolMichaelsFitness.com, connect with her on Facebook atFacebook.com/CarolMichaelsFitness, or work out with Carol through her YouTube fitness channel,YouTube.com/CarolJMichaels.