A Guide to Spiritual Wellness
Being diagnosed with cancer can leave a person feeling overwhelmed. As it is a bumpy road with many ups and downs, you’ll need to give yourself enough time to process at every stage. Here are a few tips on self-care and gaining a sense of spiritual wellness while fighting the battle against cancer.
The University of California Riverside defines spiritual wellness as, “the search for meaning and purpose in human existence, leading one to strive for a state of harmony with oneself and others while working to balance inner needs with the rest of the world.” Whether that’s praying to a higher power or finding value in your life by giving back to others, it is worth your time to explore your purpose and meaning in life.
Cancer.net encourages you to self-advocate for yourself. This involves an ongoing process that includes deepening your understanding of the disease, seeking support from those that have experience in what you’re going through (i.e. survivors), attending one on one counseling, as well as taking extra special care of your nutrition. All of these factors will help you feel stronger in your body and more in control. Additionally, try and keep an honest and open dialogue with your doctor in order to relieve the overload of information concerning your diagnosis, treatment options and possible results. You may not wish to know everything there is to know about your disease and that’s OK. Communicating with those who have shared your struggle will enlighten you to what lies on the road ahead and how to best handle it. While having supportive friends and family members is helpful, talking to a third party such as a personal therapist might make it easier to open up.
Though vital to your recovery and pain management, make sure you are safely using opioids. Be cautious and only use them as directed. The FDA recommends that you, “Do not change the dose of your pain relief medication without talking to your doctor first.” Otherwise you run the risk of addiction and overdose. Don’t drive or operate heavy and dangerous equipment as you may experience drowsiness and run the risk of harming yourself or others. You should also avoid alcohol and self-medicating while on pain medication. Talk to your doctor to make sure you’re not mixing medications that could lead to negative side effects.
While pain medicine may be necessary, if it is not enough, you might consider natural relief remedies, such as capsaicin and turmeric. These may be taken as a supplement or added to your diet. A frame-of-mind change can also help. If you can learn to avoid feeling like a victim of your disease, you will find an internal strength that can help you emotionally cope with chronic pain. By empowering yourself, you stand a better chance at maintaining your quality of life through treatment.
Lastly, prioritize your self-care by finding activities that help you cope with the pain. Yoga, dance and other low-impact exercises for example can be beneficial in getting you moving, and lifting your spirit. Get plenty of rest and find a peaceful and quiet place to try and calm your mind daily. Consider keeping a journal in order to process your emotions and fears. Breathing exercises and creative visualization may help reduce your anxiety as well. Massage therapy, mediation and the practice of mindfulness as well as pet and art therapy could also be beneficial to you. Spend as much time as possible in nature and soak up the natural sunlight and bright colors.
Whatever your hobbies may be, indulge in them and allow them to take your mind off things. Doing something you love and expressing yourself will help you keep a positive mindset throughout this journey. No matter what, keep loved ones close and remember to express your gratitude in life.
Article contributed by: Scott Sanders <[email protected]>