Being diagnosed with cancer is a life changing experience. While we experience stress in our daily lives, it’s completely different when you’re faced with life-altering adversary. Needless to say, having cancer can be overwhelming and extremely stressful. From the moment of diagnosis, stress and anxiety will set in and it can pervade throughout the whole journey. Not only for the patient but also for the immediate family and loved ones as well.
An unhealthy amount of stress over an extended period of time can often lead to distress or even depression. Distress happens when patients feel they cannot manage the mental or physical pressures they are contending with. Distress is a factor that can reduce the quality of life for cancer patients and their caregivers.
The National Cancer Institute states that extreme distress is associated with poor clinical outcomes. Intense and protracted chronic stress can also lead to a host of physical manifestations such as digestive, fertility, and urinary problems.
Luckily, there are healthy, proven, and effective ways of coping with stress including having a cancer plan.
Never miss an appointment
Taking away the fear of missing out on a doctor’s appointment or medicine schedule can alleviate a significant amount of pressure. Plan your schedule well in advance so you are not rushing around and adding extra stress. Knowing exactly when to do things can help you prioritize and organize your day. Those who suffer from stress often become easily disorganized and mistakes can pile up causing grief for the patient and caregiver.
Taking back control
A common complaint among patients undergoing procedures to cure cancer is the sense of losing control. Having a cancer planner can optimize not only your time but also keep your stress levels at bay. Planning your schedule can be an empowering experience as it can bring back a sense of control over your circumstance. A study on cognitive and behavioral mediators published by NCBI showed that women with a low sense of control are vulnerable to distress post cancer diagnosis. The study also revealed that women with a stronger sense of control adapt better through an active engagement in their social life. Just by being around people, you are taking a positive step to not letting the cancer dictate your life. Use your cancer planner to plan out not just your hospital visits but every part of your life.
Set goals and track them in a cancer journal as a means of breeding internal motivation. Internal motivation, according to a report by Psychology Online, can prevent stress and improve self-esteem. Being able to set objectives and periodically go back and reassess them promotes good health. Knowing that you are working towards something bigger is a self-reinforcing motivation and a self-rewarding experience.
Having a cancer plan can also help you be more proactive. Identifying benchmarks and milestones along the way can help in clearly assessing your situation, which will put your mind and your caregiver's mind at ease. By becoming more proactive, you can schedule regular assessments with your medical professionals and respond to situations rather than just reacting to them.
Build healthy habits
Choosing healthy stress management strategies like using a cancer planner can also lessen the chance of adapting unhealthy behaviors associated with stress such as smoking, overeating, or consuming alcohol, which can compromise the patient’s health.
When it comes to following healthy habits, the U.S healthcare industry is making steps to improve the range of care it provides. It is not just about treating illnesses like cancer, but also helping patients develop good habits through education. Maryville University stresses that today’s nurses are taught to promote "appropriate medical choices and healthy lifestyle habits." This allows them to help patients make choices that can prevent illnesses or create positive habits that will help them cope with illnesses like cancer. Caregivers will also be able to learn the best way to help the patient. With more nurses working in community centers, there are more ways to learn how to deal with cancer. In the end, combating stress from cancer is all about building healthy coping mechanisms and turning them into powerful habits.
Document your journey
You can also use your planner as a journal. Keeping a journal is a healthy stress management strategy for cancer patients. Very Well Health advocates that making a chronicle of your journey not only mitigates depression caused by stress, but also helps with pain management and cognitive stimulation. Tracking your mood and thoughts with a journal can significantly boost your positive outlook and help you deal with the stress.
A cancer plan may not seem like an effective way to deal with the disease. However, by effectively organizing your life around the cancer you will be able to gain some control over the disease. There are always ways to cope with cancer, as demonstrated in ‘6 Tips On How To Create A Cancer Plan Of Attack’, so don't ever give up.
About the Author
Jane Michaels is a health and wellness writer. She follows the latest health trends in the hope that her articles will help someone who is ill. In her free time she likes to enjoy the great outdoors.