Going through cancer is one of the toughest things life can throw at you- both for the person going through it and their loved ones. However, maintaining a calm mindset as much as possible and stopping going negative thought spirals too often helps with the healing process. When I found myself getting anxious, I found some strategies that helped that I wanted to share with you.
I also wanted to share that sometimes, it is actually helpful to allow the negative thought spirals to take their course and to allow the ‘negative space’ for these feelings to be expressed. Actually a technique I use with 1:1 clients is about helping them feel safe to express worst case scenarios as suppressing them all the time isn’t healthy either. So this post is written with tips for those times when you just want to calm the nerves rather than allow the negativity spiral to develop.
Generally, I feel like I’m now living at a much higher sensitivity to stress (just over a year after diagnosis). So I use these methods on a daily basis.
It is hard as it’s so easy to think that every ache and pain could be bad news, but instead of focusing on the negatives, we need to train our brains to build a sense of fortitude and resilience.
Play The ABC game
Basically chose a topic where there are multiple answers A-Z. Such as ‘Countries of the world’ or ‘fruits and vegetables’ or ‘makes of car’ – run through coming up with answers in your mind such as ‘Argentina, Brazil, Chile…’ or ‘Apples, Bananas, Carrots’ etc as long as you can. This keeps your conscious mind occupied and stops the negative thought spirals. I find that I get through A-Z once and then start on the second round and start to drift off after that. This one is great as there are literally an endless source of different topics you could use!
This may seem obvious but essential oils can tap into a deep part of our mind that enables that reptilian part of our mind responsible for the stress hormones to be calmed down. I loved using Lavendar and Frankincense on a daily basis when I was going through chemo. Then I found Aura sprays – the ones by Sons of Asgard and Starchild Glastonbury spoke to me as they are imbued with certain energies that I found really helped calm me. Experiment and find what works for you. There are different types- from incense sticks you burn, to water-based diffusers, or simply putting some on a tissue to smell. I also used them during labour with my son and they really helped me get through pain and discomfort.
An Accupressure Facial Roller & Mat
This has become a pre-bedtime relaxing ritual to use this on my face to help reduce post-chemo puffiness and I also find it strangely soothing. If you have sensitive skin, maybe go for a smooth one rather than one with spikes!
I also found the accupressure mat that was recommended to me helped give me a sense of allowing out the negative emotions- though I’d say to avoid in the days immediately after chemo when you are hyper-sensitive.
Give Yourself Reiki!
Focus positive intention and healing energy into your hands and then place them over the area that feels like it needs healing- for me it was over the area the tumour had been and the surgery scars. Feel the warmth of your hands and imagine white healing light pouring from them into where it’s needed. I do this in the evenings just when I’ve got into bed and turned the lights out.
I found these small things also helped me get through hard times:
If you’re able to spend time outside depending on your local area, it’s been shown that it helps reduce anxiety, and spending time in woodlands actually helps your microbiome.
Our values are what drives us- living a life not aligned to our values creates stress and frustration. Spend some time getting clear on yours- they are unique to you and are not beliefs you were taught as a child such as the importance of being punctual, but will be deeper like wanting to be innovative, or wanting to live with a sense of freedom and flexibility. Basically – what gives you a sense of purpose and joy – follow those little nudges from your soul.
Research what is available in your local area – you can always start with the Macmillan help line or a simple google search. I am incredibly grateful to my local cancer centre, The Mulberry Centre by West Middlesex hospital – through them I’ve accessed free Yoga, Reiki, Tai Chi, Watercolour workshops, coffee mornings and group walks.