Self-Care & Spiritual Wellness are Keys for Battling Cancer by Scott Sanders

While this article is a little off-topic for a weight loss blog – it’s an important message. I was approached by Scott Sanders of Cancerwell.org to help get his message out. When I asked him what his motivation was fo this very altruistic career, he said, “Seeing loved ones suffer during cancer treatment is heartbreaking. I have lost close friends to cancer, and that is why I have made it my mission to gather inform and share what I know, so that people will be educated.” 

Receiving a cancer diagnosis changes your world.  Your perspective alters radically, and now everything is viewed through a lens tinted by the illness.  With some thoughtful self-care and wellness strategies, you can keep a positive outlook and improve your quality of life.

A heavy toll

Cancer and cancer treatments can be a significant burden on a patient’s body.  You may experience vomiting, pain, exhaustion, and chills from radiation, along with the more aesthetic concerns of scars and hair loss.  However, the effects of cancer are more than physical.  Angie’s List explains there can also be tremendous mental side effects from cancer.   You may suffer with depression, anxiety, insomnia, and feelings of abandonment.  In fact, one in three cancer patients develops a mental health concern.  Sometimes relationships become damaged, and sometimes patients feel such despair they either actively commit suicide or passively do so by discontinuing treatment.  Without appropriate care and intervention, your outlook on life can decline and your overall well-being suffers.  It’s vital to engage in a self-care plan and pursue spiritual wellness.

What is spiritual wellness? 

Your spiritual wellness relates to your personal values, beliefs, and how you view your purpose in life.  Many cancer patients seek spiritual wellness as a part of their journey to help navigate the uncertainties and difficulties they face.  For some, spiritual wellness is pursued through their home church, and some look to a new faith organization.  Some people find help in meditation and nature.  It’s important to find a healthy manner to engage your spiritual side, whatever direction that may be.

Treating your soul

Participating in a spiritual wellness program is vital to your quality of life.  According to some studies, many of those who survive cancer receive important benefits from relying on their spiritual and religious beliefs.  They gain insights regarding purpose and the meaning of their experiences, cope better with the journey, and struggle less with life and death matters.  Those engaged in spiritual wellness can feel more hopeful and at peace with their circumstances. 

What is self-care?

As explained by Psych Central, self-care activities are tasks you choose to participate in that encourage your mental, emotional and physical health.  Self-care works in conjunction with your spiritual wellness, helping you to keep a positive outlook on life and helping you to feel better and improve your quality of life.  Your self-care should include things like proper nutrition, sufficient sleep, recreation, physical exercise, and relaxation.

Self-care and daily choices

It’s important to tend to your physical and mental needs, engaging in a self-care program that promotes a full and balanced life.  Self-care is highly personal, and the components for self-care when battling illness aren’t really different from other self-care programs.  It’s a matter of living a lifestyle that encourages your wellness, and everyone must find healthy ways to take care of themselves and gauge activities in accordance with circumstances.  Right now your self-care plan may look a little different from how it will look in a year, or how it looked a couple of years ago.  Tailor it to your current situation and make adjustments as needed.  

Evaluate 

Consider the following points when evaluating your lifestyle and look for ways to improve your self-care on a daily basis:

Rest.  Your treatment and illness can be draining.  It’s important to ensure you are getting sufficient rest and sleep.

Drink water.  Keep a bottle with you if you find you aren’t consuming enough of this basic element.

Say “no.”  Don’t overcommit yourself.  If there was ever a time you should feel okay bowing out of obligations and requests, it’s now.

Find space.  When you do need to attend obligations and events, find a quiet place for retreat as soon as you get there.  That way, if things become too much or you need a moment, you know where you can find it. 

Cancer and quality of life

Even with a cancer diagnosis, you can pursue a good quality of life.  It’s important to recognize your need for spiritual wellness and engage in a self-care program.  You’ll feel healthier and more balanced with those strategies in place.

If you’ve found value in this article, please look for Put Yourself First: A Guide to Self-Care and Spiritual Wellness During and After Cancer Treatment by Scott Sanders coming out Summer 2018.

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