Feeling strong and positive is a way to keep us motivated to take on life’s many challenges. However, being diagnosed with cancer can still be a huge shock. It is natural to have a wave of negative thoughts after hearing this devastating news. Some people become anxious or upset, while others feel guilty, angry, or alone. There really is no right way to react, and emotions could be overwhelming for both the patient and his or her loved ones.
Dealing with mood swings may not be easy at first. Yet, working through your emotions can help lower stress. This can strengthen your mental and physical health. Here are seven ways to boost your mood and stay optimistic in your journey towards cancer recovery.
Have A Positive, Realistic Outlook
Yes, looking at the bright side keeps you going. You don’t have to be delusional or look at life through rose-colored glasses. Being optimistic with a realistic view of the world will help you get through therapy. After all, cancer affects both the mind and the body. Many patients feel pressured to keep a “good attitude” at all times, but that is impractical and too idealistic.
Truly resilient people who need to survive the harshest situations and still accomplish goals pay close attention to all the information they need to face the problem. Identify what triggers your negative thoughts and practice self-awareness. This may help you remove yourself from the vicious cycle of depression that affects your daily life.
Acceptance is essential in order to bring about positive change. You may see a counselor to support you on this process of self-discovery so you can turn self-defeating thoughts into life-affirming ones. When you experience fear, think, “This is a test that’s going to make me stronger.”
Surround Yourself With Good Company
Friends and loved ones provide support when life gets tough. When Admiral Robert Shumaker was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, he was isolated from other captives. How did he maintain his sanity in such a dreadful situation? He tapped the wall of his cell until his fellow prisoners heard it, responding by tapping back. It was a simple gesture but it let him know he was not alone.
When you are fighting cancer, it is important to know that there are people who are ready to support you. Social interactions help release oxytocin which reduces stress and calms your mind. The solution is not just about receiving, but also about giving help. You can make more friends easily when you show genuine interest in other people. Sharing your experiences and learning from each other can help you create strong and lasting connections.
Move Your Body
Studies reveal that exercise, even as little as five minutes, positively affects one’s mood. Those who work out regularly tend to be less sensitive to anxiety and less likely to be depressed. Since cancer and its therapy alter your hormones and sometimes, your appearance, they can take a toll on your self- confidence.
Exercise serves as a healthy distraction from your troubles, warm up your body temperature, and improve your self-esteem. Breaking a sweat helps your body to release endorphins, neurotransmitters, and other “feel good” hormones. It’s all natural and extremely effective, perhaps even better than antidepressants.
Eat With Your Mental Health In Mind
Even if you choose the right therapy and medication, having a weak body might still make your journey unsuccessful. As a cancer patient, you need to be healthy enough to take on the brunt of the disease as well as its treatment. Food is your fuel, and consuming the right amount of nutrients will dictate how well your mind and body are able to function.
Talk to your nutritionist about which diet is perfect for you. Known mind boosting nutrients include folic acid and vitamin B9, which you can find in leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach. People with vitamin D deficiency are revealed to have a higher rate of depression. Increase your intake of vitamin D through whole foods and fatty fish like tuna and salmon.
When studying people who overcame tragedy, researchers discover that spirituality is such an important facet of survival. It is not about being a part of a religious group too. Spirituality can mean a number of things to different people. Some find peace in doing meditation, yoga, and prayer.
Evidence shows that yoga reduces anxiety, tension, depression, fatigue, anger, and hostility. It also increases restorative, calm, and energetic feelings. As far as meditation goes, it has similar effects of relieving negativity. Likewise, praying fosters positive thinking. Be a part of a group with similar beliefs if you can, as this will strengthen your resolve.
Have Resilient Role Models
When you look at children who lived in impoverished circumstances but grow up to become happy and successful, what do you usually find? They had great role models who provided a positive example and guided them.
Emmy Werner, one of the first psychologists to study resilience, followed the lives of children who were raised in poverty-stricken homes with an abusive, alcoholic, or mentally ill parent. Those who grew up emotionally healthy against these challenges were those who had at least one person whom they admired as a role model. Meet people who have fought against the same cancer as you and be inspired by their survival stories.
Find Meaning In What You Do
Being confronted with a life-threating disease makes you realize the things that you still want to do while you are alive. When cancer hits, many patients feel a greater purpose behind them, pushing them forward. Do something you’ve always wanted to do or follow your calling. Finding meaning in life despite hardships is a true mark of a survivor.
Even if there is no evidence that feelings affect cancer itself, your mindset still plays a huge role in your journey. As Nietzsche said, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Manage your emotions and share your thoughts. Remember that help is always available when you need it.