Beating Cancer: The Psychological Impact of Self-Care and Spiritual Wellness
Guest Article by Scott Sanders of cancerwell.org
When you first heard your diagnosis, you couldn’t believe it. Maybe they got it wrong, or maybe there was a simple mix-up with someone else’s medical records. Soon, though, as your doctor began describing your treatment program, reality sets in. You have cancer.
Cancer is a physical condition where abnormal cells continuously divide, destroying healthy tissue. The most common types of cancer impact the breasts, prostate, and skin. However, cancer is not only a medical emergency, but it’s also a psychological and spiritual crisis, as well. In addition to medication and treatment for the body, the battle to beat cancer also requires self-care and spiritual wellness for the heart and mind.
Self-care is about more than regular hygiene and eating well, though those are important components. Self-care is also about showing kindness and compassion to yourself. If you are fighting cancer, you may feel a spectrum of emotions, ranging from fear and guilt to determination and confidence. Making sure these emotions stay in a healthy and productive range plays a large role in self-care. For example, if you feel guilty about the stress your cancer places on your family, you may not seek their help in dealing with your own stress. However, unchecked stress can have a serious impact on your cancer. You may turn to unhealthy coping strategies, such as smoking or drinking alcohol, or start feeling overwhelmed with anxiety, which some studies have shown can facilitate tumor growth. You can make self-care a priority by planning and acting on certain activities, such as:
- Spending quality social time with your friends and loved ones.
- Exercising in whatever manner your doctor approves.
- Meditating, taking a hot bath, swinging in a hammock while reading a book, or doing any other relaxing activity for at least 30 minutes.
- Doing something you really enjoy at least once a day, such as going to the movies, visiting an art gallery, or getting a manicure or pedicure.
Self-care isn’t just about mental and physical well-being; it is also about creating and sustaining spiritual wellness.
When faced with a serious illness like cancer, you may start to question your own mortality. You begin to wonder what will happen after you die — not just in terms of heaven or hell, but also what will happen to your loved ones when you are gone. You may question the spiritual journey you’ve been on your entire life. Along the same lines of thought, if you’ve never considered yourself particularly spiritual, perhaps now your eyes are open to new possibilities. Spiritual wellness during cancer treatment can provide you with a sense of optimism and comfort. In some cases, an effort to emphasize spirituality while fighting cancer has shown to decrease depression, lower blood pressure, and reduce anxiety. If you feel a spiritual awakening within you, some ways you can explore spiritual wellness during your cancer treatment include:
- Researching different churches and organizations in your area that align with your values.
- Reaching out to friends and family members you respect who have spiritual views that may help give you insight.
- Visiting with a spiritual director who can help you articulate your belief system and find others in your community to connect with.
However, spirituality should not be forced. Sometimes, a diagnosis like cancer turns into spiritual distress. You may question your belief systems or feel angry at your fate. In these situations, allow yourself to feel what you need to feel, working towards letting go of harmful emotions that perpetuate pessimism and negativity.
Cancer changes the way you see life. The psychological impact of facing such a serious, life-threatening illness can feel burdensome in an already tumultuous situation. Focusing on self-care and spiritual wellness can improve your quality of life by supporting a positive, optimistic outlook.
Disclaimer: All Content provided on or through the Site is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, care, diagnosis or treatment, and is not designed to promote or endorse any medical practice, program or agenda. Please speak with your doctor before making any changes to your lifestyle. This article is a guest post written for Pema Chen Acupuncture in July of 2018 by author Scott Sanders, who is the author and creator of www.cancerwell.org
Copyright © July 2018 Pema Chen Acupuncture. , All rights reserved. Photo by Pixabay