Tomorrow we mark World Mental Health Day (October 10). Many cancer patients experience emotional distress, so Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan is encouraging Queenslanders affected by the disease to seek the help and support they deserve.
Any serious illness can impact mental health. For patients, caregivers, and their loved ones, going through cancer can be an overwhelming experience.
Suddenly, you are thrust into a situation where you must deal with what is happening physically as well as emotionally.
For most people, the experience of dealing with cancer will be difficult at some stage. Whether it is at the time of diagnosis or at some later stage in the cancer journey. There is no right way to feel – experiencing a range of emotions is normal and everyone will cope differently.
These feelings may be constant, may come and go, or pass with time.
There are many ways to cope with a diagnosis and everyone is different, however looking after yourself through the below tips can enhance wellbeing and help you to manage stress better.
Keep to the basics.
Maintaining a balanced diet to help your body cope with the stress of illness and treatment, and being physically active regularly, which can help lift mood and improve sleep, are recommended.
Make time for yourself.
Even though life may be very busy, it is important to make time to do things you enjoy and help you relax as best you can. Think about things you do (or have done in the past) that help you feel good. Mindfulness and meditation are great ways to relax your mind and body.
Keeping in touch with the world through work, hobbies, or time spent with family and friends may help you see a life outside of cancer and provide a break from your worries. When you are dealing with treatment and side effects, your support network can make an enormous difference. You don’t have to deal with cancer alone. Family and friends usually appreciate being allowed to provide support – it helps them feel useful.
It is important for you to talk about your feelings and what you are experiencing if you want to. If you cannot talk to someone close to you or would like to talk to someone other than relatives or friends, you might consider talking to a health professional or engaging with a support group.
Sort out issues.
A cancer diagnosis may happen in the context of other life stresses such as financial problems, work-related issues, relationship concerns and family stresses. Dealing with other sources of stress, where possible, in your life may help you cope better with the additional burden of cancer treatment.
It’s important to remember that nobody is expecting you to put a brave face all the time – embrace and expect a range of emotions. It’s also important to remember that Cancer Council Queensland is here for you and has a range of support services available.
To find out what might best suit your needs you might like to speak to one of our Cancer Support and Information health professionals by calling Cancer Council’s 13 11 20. Last year alone, more than 9480 calls were made to this service.
Open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm (excluding public holidays), 13 11 20 exists thanks to the generous donations, support and contributions of Queenslanders.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at www.cancerqld.org.au or 13 11 20.
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