Taking care of yourself when a loved one is battling cancer may seem like to least important thing to do on your to-do list, but it is actually the most significant. As a caregiver, it is your responsibility to take good care of yourself, both physically and emotionally, in order to provide the best possible support to the patient.
It may be easy to overlook your personal health when you have to juggle doctors’ appointments and medication schedules, but neglecting your own well-being can have negative consequences. By prioritizing self-care, you can ensure that you are in the best possible position to provide the necessary care and support to your loved one.
Below is a checklist to assist you in evaluating your well-being in the 3 main areas of wellness:
It is important to be aware of any signs of physical discomfort or illness, especially during times of distraction or preoccupation.
- Maintain a balanced diet and avoid excessive consumption of sugar and processed foods. Food provides energy for the body, and energy is necessary to sustain strength and determination.
- Ensure regular and sufficient sleep, as lack of sleep weakens the immune system and can contribute to various health issues.
- Incorporate power naps into your routine, as cancer and its treatments can cause changes that may disrupt your sleep.
- Stay active and avoid becoming sedentary. Even walking can be considered exercise and can be beneficial for both the patient and caregiver.
- Get enough sun exposure, as the body needs vitamin D to reduce inflammation, boost immune function, and regulate cellular processes. Studies have also suggested that vitamin D can help to reduce cancer cell growth.
Emotional health is often the first aspect of well-being to be compromised, and therefore requires conscious effort to maintain.
- Allow for moderate consumption of fatty and sugary foods, which can help boost mood and provide a temporary sense of comfort.
- Carve out time for solitude without feeling guilty, as it can be a valuable opportunity to recharge.
- Keep busy with trivial tasks to maintain balance and provide a sense of relief from the stress of cancer treatment. For example, planning a birthday celebration or a trip can help occupy the mind and provide a positive distraction.
- Avoid succumbing to guilt, as it can be a powerful emotion that often arises during times of stress. Recognize and dispute negative self-talk to minimize the impact of guilt on emotional well-being
- Maintain control over anxiety: while it is normal to feel anxious during difficult times, it is important to avoid letting anxiety take over. Along with taking care of your physical health, incorporating meditation and relaxation techniques can be beneficial.
Regardless of whether or not you are religious, spirituality can play a significant role in your life during challenging times.
- Utilize meditation to enhance your spirituality. Embracing acceptance can build inner strength, as cancer often presents questions without clear answers.
- Practice mindfulness, which involves being present and grounded in the moment. Staying focused on the present can be a powerful defense against anxiety, as cancer may cause your mind to fixate on future events beyond your control.
- When feeling overwhelmed, seek solace in something greater than yourself, such as a higher power or the natural world. Recognizing the vastness of the universe can bring comfort, reminding us of our limited control over things.
- Connect with nature. Observing the beauty and resilience of the natural world can be a humbling experience, reminding us of the power of life and its ability to regenerate despite challenges