How to Practice Self-Care When You Have Lung Cancer
Sheila M. Eldred | May 1, 2018
It’s no secret that fatigue can impact your quality of life as a lung cancer patient. Surprisingly, though, getting more rest doesn’t always help. Self-care strategies do, research shows. Self-care can also reduce stress and may even speed up healing. So, indulge. No more guilt! Here are numerous loving ways to put yourself first.
Make a minute for mindfulness
Did you know that mindfulness can be as simple as focusing on your breathing for a minute? These “micro-practices,” which can also include journaling and body scanning, may inspire you to start a regular practice. One patient describes her five methods here. Mindfulness has been linked to decreased stress and anxiety in cancer patients. If you want to take your practice further, full-blown meditation has been shown to control pain and high blood pressure, help you sleep, and reduce fatigue.
Try a tree pose
Like mindfulness and meditation, yoga can help you appreciate the present moment and relax. Classes aimed specifically at cancer patients often provide community benefits as well. Other types of exercise can be beneficial. Inquire at your local YMCA about classes designed for cancer patients (bonus: many are free!)
Stimulate your sex life
Self-care should be fun. If you’ve been avoiding lovemaking since your diagnosis, check out these tips on revving up your sex life. Bonus: You’ll likely rekindle a sense of intimacy with your partner.
Laugh whenever you can
Research reveals that laughing is linked to everything from easing pain to improving sleep, suggesting enough benefits that some hospitals even offer laughter therapy. Laughing triggers the release of endorphins, which is one of the body’s ways of relieving pain. Even if you don’t feel like laughing, forced laughter carries many of the same benefits. To get your endorphins flowing, search for laughter clubs or laughter yoga classes in your area.
Go see a movie
Building on the idea that laughing can help, going to the movie theater and seeing a funny movie is a great weekend or weeknight activity. Go with yourself as a treat, or go with family and friends to see that new comedy or thriller as a way to connect. Better yet, see what movie groups your local theater offers to help expand your social community.
Say yes to help
This is not the time to be a martyr and do everything yourself, LiveBetterWithCancer reminds us. If someone offers to set up a meal train or do your laundry, the best answer is probably, “yes, thanks!” And it’s equally acceptable to request help. If that seems overwhelming, find just one friend who can act as a coordinator and communicator.
Find family and friends
Socializing is linked to avoiding cancer-related fatigue, a 2017 study shows. You may find support both in old friendships and new. It can be especially helpful to talk to people with lung cancer who share many of your own experiences. You may find benefits in catching up in person or chatting on the phone or via online forums.
Go far away
Plan a vacation, even just for a day, to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. You don’t even need to go, but the planning and daydreaming could help you put some distance between your current locale/situation and where you might one day go.