If you have survived cancer, then you would know that it is only natural to feel sad, afraid, angry or all these emotions at once during the course of your treatment. Some cancer patients spend a lifetime battling the disease, being constantly preoccupied with chemotherapy and other forms of treatment to fight for another chance of living. And though they may have been able to free themselves from the shackles of cancer physically, most survivors never really break away from the damages to their mental health. If you are a cancer survivor struggling with mental health, it is important that you continue to fight daily till you attain complete mental soundness. Here are 5 steps to take in your journey towards mental health recovery.
The fight may be over, but the battle continues as life after surviving cancer will not be the same. It may take some time before you can adjust to going back to work or doing everyday activities. The key here is to be patient. If this means reaching out to a friend for financial help, or a family member to help with the preparation of daily meals, seek help when help is needed. Take each day as it comes. Recovery is a gradual process that must not be forced, but instead be eased into its intended path. The decision to move forward and embrace your ‘new normal’ starts with you.
2. There Are Many Like You
If you feel that you are suffering alone, take comfort in knowing that there are thousands of cancer survivors out there who have experienced or are currently experiencing the same things as you. At first, you may find it a little difficult to talk about your struggles as it may feel uncomfortable. But once you allow yourself to share your apprehensions and express your innermost feelings, it’ll bring about a sense of liberation, as if a ton of weight were lifted off your shoulders.
Speaking to family members, friends or even a professional therapist will provide you the counsel and support you need. Alternatively, you can seek out and join a cancer survival support group, where every member is bonded by the common goal of survival.
3. Fight Chemo Brain
The term ‘chemo brain’ is often used to describe cancer survivors who have experienced problems with thinking, cognition, memory and attention. These side-effects are caused by chemotherapy and radiation treatments which typically affect various parts of the brain, and could result in cancer survivors experiencing mental health-related issues such as depression, anxiety, stress and trouble sleeping. As an effect, you may find it difficult to perform basic functions such as remembering, thinking, recognising faces or place, and learning new skills. A great way to keep the mental wheel spinning is to engage your brain through mental exercises, such as memory games and puzzle-solving games. You can also seek consultation from an expert, who will be able to provide you with recommendations to build an activity plan which caters specifically to your areas of deficiency.
4. Balanced and Healthy Diet
As a result of chemotherapy and other treatments, a cancer survivor’s body is bound to undergo immense physical changes. Therefore, it is extremely important that your body receives proper nutrition during the cancer recovery process. Work out a healthy and balanced diet consisting of whole grains, lean meat, high-protein foods such as beans, legumes, fish and low-fat foods. Green tea could also be a positive addition to this diet as the amino acids present in the tea will help in improving your attention span and ability to focus.
5. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
Physical exercise is as equally important as nutrition and rest in maintaining a sound mind. Some of the best fitness programs you can join to strengthen both mental and physical fitness include Core Flow Yoga,Gentle Flow Yoga and Body Balance. The endorphins released during exercise also make you feel really good about yourself and give you an overall mood booster. This is one of the best ways to alleviate mental health issues as it keeps you in constant high spirits.
The battle against cancer is arguably one of the hardest things anyone could face in their lifetime. Just remember, you had to fight tooth and nail for your second chance at life. And for coming out on top, nothing can stand in the way of you living your best life, least of all mental health issues.