Tips for coping with a cancer diagnosis

Being diagnosed with cancer can be overwhelming. The news can cause a whirlwind of emotions like sadness, anger, guilt, denial, confusion, stress, anxiety, depression, helplessness and fear. Here are some tips to help you cope with a diagnosis.

Absorb information — gradually

Your mind may not be able to process much else after you receive a cancer diagnosis. Take time to learn about your condition and treatment over time. Fully understanding the extent of your illness can take weeks or even months. Educating yourself can help you feel more in control of your situation and combat stress and fear.

Reach out to loved ones

Research has shown that support from family and friends is extremely effective for maintaining positivity, boosting self-esteem, and even moderating or offsetting stress and depression. Other emotional support outlets include support groups, telephone helplines, online chat rooms, and web forums.

Express your feelings

Creative activities, like music, visual arts, dancing, and writing, can be excellent methods of self-expression. The National Center for Biology found holistic creative arts can have significant therapeutic effects such as promoting positive thoughts, relaxation, immune system functionality, increased sense of control and self-worth, and reducing stress and anxiety.

Look after yourself

Getting plenty of rest is vital. This includes not only getting eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, but also taking naps or even just lying down when your body needs a break. Eating a healthy, balanced diet helps your body get the nutrients it needs to stave off further illness, heal itself, and promote optimal cognitive function. Avoid excessive alcohol, as it has been shown to exacerbate some negative side effects, and, in some cases, even cause cancer.

Go for a walk

Physical activity is healthy for your heart and muscles, and can release natural pain-relieving and mood-elevating endorphins. Activities like walking, cycling, swimming, or light resistance training can also serve as a productive distraction and clear your mind. Ask your doctor if it’s okay to work out, and to what extent.

Forget about cancer — have fun!

Indulge in things and activities that make you happy. It can be therapeutic and make you feel normal. Again, distract yourself from negative thoughts and replace them with what you enjoy.

Be open to positive change in perspective

You may be dealing with a lot of changes in your life in the wake of a serious diagnosis. Be open to the possibility that you may unexpectedly discover a silver lining. Many survivors of grave illnesses have reported their lives being made fuller by the experience of uncertainty.

 

What tips do you have for coping with a cancer diagnosis? Share your suggestions in the comments below.

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