Self-care can help us all to be happier on a daily basis, but setting time aside for rituals that make us feel good becomes even more vital when facing health difficulties including breast cancer.
“A breast cancer diagnosis and treatment can cause lasting trauma to women’s bodies and it often has a devastating impact on minds too. Debilitating physical side effects, damaged body confidence and the fear of recurrence can lead to stress, anxiety and depression,” said Jane Murphy, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Breast Cancer Care.
“That’s why acts of self-care, however small, are so important for women who have had a breast cancer diagnosis. Taking time – be it a day, an hour or even just a few minutes – to look after yourself, mentally and physically, can help manage the many issues the disease brings,” she added.
“So whether it’s taking up yoga, cooking a healthy, delicious meal or simply relaxing on the sofa with a book, make sure you make time for you.”
Here, 19 women with breast cancer share their top self-care tips.
1. “At the end of treatment when I was feeling really low, counseling helped me build my emotional resilience back-up. Talking everything through with someone neutral, who wasn’t a loved one, gave me space to talk more openly about my feelings.” – Audrey, 48 from North Lancashire
2. “Keep a daily diary of your side effects when you’re going through chemo so you have a rough idea what to expect each time. This means you’ll know when you’ll be feeling well and can plan lovely things.” – Laura Hemingway, 35 from Leeds
3. “Write down what you’ve achieved, however small, so you can then look back to see how far you’ve come. At the start, it may simply be making lunch for yourself.” – Lauren McDonald, 33 from London
4. “Learn to say no when you don’t want to or simply can’t do something and, equally, say yes, especially when accepting help. Apply your own oxygen mask before helping others, like they show you on aircraft safety demonstrations. Prioritising self-care means you are better equipped to support the people you care about.” – Fay Field, 30 from Bedfordshire
5. “Never underestimate the therapeutic effects of having a shower. Even on days when I couldn’t get off the sofa, having a shower always made me feel better.” – Claire Russon, 42 from Cardiff
6. “Try to get outside every dayduring treatment, even if it’s just strolling gently around the garden or walking slowly to the post box down the road. Getting your blood moving will really help you to feel better and lift your spirits.” – Patricia Carswell, 50 from Monmouth
7. “Take up yoga and meditation as they really help with the ‘noise’ in your head. There are some amazing sessions on YouTube that you can do from the comfort of your own home, so you don’t even have to get dressed!” – Kirsty Masters, 45 from Surrey
8. “Find a form of exercise you enjoy doing on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you enjoy it. Going to the gym and training for strength competitions has helped me learn to love my body as well as giving me better mental focus.” – Kirsty Hay, 44 from Tamworth
9. “Going for a walk is really good for the mind, even if it’s just a short one. When I was in the limbo phase after surgery and waiting for chemo to start, I would go for really long walks while listening to a funny podcast and it would make me feel much better.” – Helen Brewster, 36 from Hertfordshire
10. “Find a place where you can get away from all the pressures of cancer (my favourite is a local coffee shop) and do something for yourself that you may have loved when you were younger. I found rediscovering things I enjoyed, like reading and writing, gave me more positivity.” – Rebekah Salmon-Craig, 45 from Birmingham
11. “Get outside into nature. Taking myself out of the ‘sickness’ setting into the wider world and watching the seasons change was vital. It seemed to create more space for me to heal, especially mentally, outside of the four walls of my house or the hospital.” – Fiona Neville Pardaeva, 44 from London
12. “The year since my breast cancer diagnosis has been incredibly difficult as I’ve had to come to terms with the trauma of ‘losing myself’ and adapting to my new identity. My best self-care tip is to be kind to yourself and not expect too much, especially in the early days.” – Lisa Lumley, 44 from Wolviston
13. “Set time aside just for you each day to find some headspace and build back your belief that you can and will be ok. I found Breast Cancer Care’s BECCA app really helpful when I needed extra support with how I was feeling.” – Rebekah Smith, 34 from Leicester
14. “Try not to compare yourself to other people and set yourself small goals. I found it difficult to see people who seemed to bounce back straightaway after treatment – my path to health and fitness has been much slower but it hasn’t stopped me from achieving.” – Rachel Bruce, 48 from York
15. “I suffered badly with anxiety during and after breast cancer treatment, so I spoke to my breast care nurse who gave me a referral for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) through the NHS. I learnt many useful strategies, which helped me through my most anxious times, and I still use these now and again, along with mindfulness techniques.” – Joanna Castle, 35 from Kent
16. “Treat yourself as you would treat your closest friend, with love, patience and understanding. Banish the word ‘should’ from your vocabulary and do the things that make you happy, not the things you that you think you ‘should’ be doing.” – Wendy Barker, 51 from Cornwall
17. “If I am feeling really wound up and tense, roller derby is my saviour. Exercise is a great release, with my league offering me both physical and mental support.” – Helen Wortsmann, 36 from Southsea
18. “Maintaining a healthy, balanced dietwith a variety of fruit and vegetables means that I don’t feel guilty about indulging occasionally with chocolate, cake or a glass of good red wine!” – Rosemary Lee, 71 from Cornwall
19. “I went to Zumba classes during treatment which I found empowering and fun, often powering through tiredness to attend. However there’s a happy medium – sometimes you have to be kind to yourself and skip a class if you’re exhausted.” – Georgie Baker, 61 from Buckinghamshire
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Deepa is a writer and a passionate blogger. She has years of experience in writing articles, blogs and press releases after a deep research. At http://healthcaretipstoday.com she writes interesting topics on all health, beauty, fitness and healthy life. She loves exploring, researching and providing the best information to readers. In her free times, she loves to read books.
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