Be Kind to Yourself During Cancer Treatment
- Gigi Hadid wants Instagram followers to remind themselves, “You’re doing the best you can.”
- It’s a message that rings true with cancer patients, too.
- Experts say people going through cancer should practice self-care and take time to be purposeful about healthy diet, exercise, and mental health
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“Sometimes I go a week without touching makeup. Just putting on deodorant is ‘we’re doing great,’” the 25-year-old model wrote. “Just remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can, you are doing amazing. And to just give yourself grace. If you brushed your hair this week, I’m really proud of you.”
It’s a message that resonates not just with new moms, but also with cancer patients. Those first few weeks and months after a new cancer diagnosis can turn your world upside down. You can feel out of control — possibly for the first time in your life.
“I’ve always told my patients to be kind to themselves. To give themselves a break. To say, ‘This is what I can deal with right now, and I can’t deal with anything else,'” Dr. Susan Parsons, Director of Survivorship Care at Tufts University, told SurvivorNet in a previous interview.
Being kind to yourself means paying attention to not only your physical health, but also your emotional and spiritual needs. Research finds that taking time for self-care during cancer treatment can combat many of the harmful effects of stress and anxiety on your body.
How to Honor Yourself Through Cancer Treatment
Time can seem like one asset that’s in short supply after a cancer diagnosis. Treatment can eat up much of what little portion of the day that’s left after your work-home responsibilities are done. But it’s important to carve out time each day to nurture yourself.
Do whatever brings you joy. Go for a walk outside. Listen to your favorite song. Take a warm bubble bath. Ask your partner for a massage.
When you feel overwhelmed, don’t keep it bottled up inside you. Let it out. Talk to the friends you’ve leaned on throughout life. If you can’t open up to them, talk to a professional — a counselor or therapist. A journal is another good place to release pent-up stress.
Try to get in some form of exercise every day, even if it’s just a 15-minute walk on the treadmill while watching your favorite show. People who exercise during cancer treatment feel better.
No matter how stressed you get, don’t lean on junk food. Sugar and fat won’t do anything to help your mood. If anything, they’ll make it worse.
You’ll also feel better if you eat a well-balanced diet. “You want to have a moderate diet where you’re including lots of fruits and vegetables but you’re still eating fat and protein, and you want to maintain physical exercise,” Dr. Sairah Ahmed, associate professor in the Division of Cancer Medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, told SurvivorNet in a past interview.
Relaxation techniques are another great tool for managing stress. Meditate. Practice yoga. Breathe deeply. And harness the power of positive thinking to help yourself heal.