Whether it is yourself or a loved one, a diagnosis of cancer can be a challenging time.
Cancer can impact your mental health in a variety of ways, and one way to help cope with a cancer experience is by practicing mindfulness.
Finding simple and practical ways to take time out of the chaos of daily life and step away from worry can help you feel more centred and balanced throughout the day.
Cancer Council Queensland’s team of psychologists have provided tips on how to reconnect with yourself in the small details of life and implement mindfulness into your everyday routine.
1. When you first wake up, before you get out of bed, bring your attention to your breathing. Notice that the body breathes all by itself and spend a few moments sensing the breath entering the body and following the sensations of breathing out. Ready to greet the day?
2. Pause before eating or drinking: Turn off distractions and take a moment to look at your food. Notice colours, temperature and smells. Eat slowly, really savouring each mouthful. Eating with awareness can help you reclaim the pleasure of food and may aid weight management and healthier digestion. What can you taste?
3. Notice your body. Whether standing, sitting or moving, pause and take a breath. Bring attention to your body. Take a moment to notice your posture and your facial expression. Pay attention to contact with the floor under your feet. Notice the changing sensations in the body with movement. When sitting notice sensations on the skin the touch of clothing and the chair supporting you. Are you at ease?
4. Throughout your day, take a few moments to bring your attention to your breathing. Pause for five mindful breaths. Are you present?
5. When waiting in a line, use this time to notice standing and breathing. Feel the contact of your feet on the floor or ground and perhaps the pull of gravity down through your legs. Notice how your body feels. Bring attention to the rise and fall of your abdomen. Are you noticing impatience?
6. Notice tension: Be aware of any points of tightness in your body throughout the day. Is there tension in your neck, shoulders, stomach, jaw or lower back? Pause and imagine breathing into the tension, and as you exhale, simply letting go. Tune into your body from time to time. Do you need to stretch?
7. One thing at a time: Whenever possible focus on one thing at a time. Give it your full attention. If you become distracted, notice that and bring your attention back to your task. Working mindfully leads to less mistakes and greater productivity. Are you rushing?
8. Make space for stillness: Try driving in silence with your phone and music off. Allow time in your day away from your devices, time to sit – day dreaming and mind wandering. Take a walk in nature without headphones and pay close attention to what you see, feel and hear. Are you open to stillness, to quiet?
9. Boring chores: Turn mundane tasks into mindful moments. Whether cooking, vacuuming or washing up, bring your full attention to the task. Notice the impulse to rush through it, lost in mind chatter. Instead pause and slow down. Notice the details – smells, colours, sounds, patterns, textures, the motion of your hands. Become aware of the satisfaction of a job well done. How does this feel?
10. Be present with others: Bring awareness to listening and talking. Can you listen without agreeing or disagreeing, liking or disliking, or planning what you will say when it’s your turn? When talking, can you just say what you need to say without overstating or understating? Bring your full attention to the person, seeing and hearing them in this moment. What do you notice?
11. End your day mindfully: Before falling asleep, pause and notice your breathing. Take a deep breath in and let the breath all the way out, letting go of the day and relaxing your body and mind. Are you opening to sleep?
Cancer Council Queensland offers a range of practical and emotional support services for all Queenslanders affected by cancer, including running information and support sessions throughout the year. There are a number of upcoming sessions open for registration that provide tips and techniques for coping with a cancer experience.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland, or upcoming information and support sessions, visit cancerqld.org.au or call 13 11 20.