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FIVE TIPS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS’ MENTAL HEALTH IMPROVEMENT

Cancer not only affects the physical aspect of a patient, but also has great effect on the mental health of an individual. If you or someone you know has suffered from cancer, you would be aware that it is completely normal to feel sad, afraid, or angry at said fate. What we don’t know is that these emotions don’t necessarily go away once the battle with cancer is won, largely due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some patients spend a lifetime battling the disease and have been constantly preoccupied with the notion of alleviating suffering. Most never really break away from this mental cycle, and therefore it is important that every survivor continues the fight to improving their mental health. Here are five ways to do so.

01 Oct 2019
1. Talk and Share
You may feel as if you are suffering alone, but there are thousands more out there who are just like you. Until you share your apprehensions and express your innermost feelings, you may not be able to get over how they are actually playing out in your head. At first, you may find it a little difficult to talk about your struggles as it may feel uncomfortable, but once you let out your deepest emotions, the feeling of emancipation is something quite special. At the beginning of these situations, it is important to note that there is no such thing as ‘wrong’ feelings. You should treat the idea of sharing your mental state as you would with the physical experience of surviving cancer. Speak to family members or even ask your healthcare provider for professional advice on the need for therapy. The best outlet to share experiences such as these would definitely be cancer survivor support groups where everyone present is bonded by the common goal of survival.

2. Be Patient
The fight may be over, but the battle continues as life after surviving cancer will not be the same. It may take time for you to get back to routines such as work and daily activities. The key here is to be patient. Even if it means reaching out to a friend for financial help, or a family member to help with preparation of daily meals. Take every day as step towards complete recovery, body and mind. Recovery is a gradual process that must not be forced, instead it should be eased into its intended path. The decision solely rests on you, so be sure to stay strong in embracing your ‘new normal’.

3. Mental Exercises
The term ‘chemo brain’ is often used to describe cancer survivors who experience problems with thinking, cognition, memory and attention. This is caused by chemotherapy and radiation treatments which typically affect various parts of the brain and could cause mental health-related issues such as depression, anxiety, stress and trouble sleeping among other problems. As an effect, you may find it difficult to perform basic functions such as remembering, thinking, recognising faces or places and learning new skills. This is completely normal for cancer survivors and rest assured you need not worry about it. A great way of keeping those wheels turning is to try out mental exercises such as memory games and solving puzzles. You could even consult an expert on the types of activities that you need catered specifically for your areas of deficiency.

4. Eat Healthy
The body of a cancer survivor is considered to have undergone immense change throughout chemotherapy and other treatments. It is of utmost importance that it receives proper nutrition during the recovery process. Work out a healthy and balanced diet consisting whole grains, lean meat, high-protein foods such as beans, legumes, fish and low-fat foods. Green tea would also be a positive addition to this diet as the amino acid present in tea helps improve your attention and ability to focus.


5. Relax and exercise
As much as food and sleep are necessary to maintain a healthy mind, it would be best for you to include physical exercise into you daily routine. Some of the best classes to keep physically and mentally fit are Core Flow Yoga, Pilates and Gentle Flow Yoga. Exercise generally releases endorphins which make you feel really good about yourself and boost your overall mood. This is one of the best ways to alleviate mental health issues as it keeps you on a constant high in spirit. Cancer battles are arguably the hardest things anyone could face in their lifetime. Just remember, you haven’t been given a second chance at life, you had to fight for it. And nothing should stand in your way of living your best life, least of all mental health issues.