A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. As a woman with breast cancer, you may be caring not only for yourself, but also for a child, a spouse, a parent. You may be juggling work, school and/or home responsibilities. Cancer is another (BIG!) thing in an already busy life. Taking time for yourself may have seemed difficult before and may feel impossible now. But self-care is a pivotal part of ensuring that YOU are the most important focus during your diagnosis and beyond. Below we talk about why self-care is so important during cancer treatment. We also include tips on how to turn self-care into something that is a natural (and even enjoyable!) part of your day…not just another thing you have to tackle on an already full to-do list.

What is self-care?

Self-care is most simply defined as care of yourself. It can focus on your body (physical), mind (mental), or spirit (emotional).

Why is it important?

If you were very busy before cancer, fitting in time for yourself after a diagnosis can seem even more challenging. Self-care is an important time to take a break from thinking about cancer. It also may reduce stress, anxiety, and changes to our sleep.

How do I do it?

You might start by asking yourself some questions, including:

  • What would I tell a family member or friend to do if they were experiencing stress or cancer?
  • What helps me to relax?
  • What would I do for myself if I had 5-10 minutes free?
  1. Identify self-care activities that may work for you.
    Everyone is different, so what may be relaxing for some, may create more stress for someone else. There are many options, including:

    1. Slow down and find quiet time
    2. Exercise, and yes that includes walking!
    3. Meditate (Headspace and Calm are both good apps to use)
    4. Outsource activities 
    5. Learn when (and how) to say ‘no’
    6. Journal
    7. Dance!
    8. Garden
    9. Take a Day Trip
    10. Have a Spa Day
    11. Do some Yoga
  2. Recognize that what may have worked for you before may not work now. 
    Try different options to see what works best for you. Different options may work better in different circumstances.

Don’t just take our word for it. Here you can find tips from women with breast cancer who talk about their own self-care during treatment and beyond. Whatever you choose, remember that self-care looks different for each person. What matters is making you and your well-being a priority. Whatever you decide will best suit you, we are here to support you! If you need some more tips on self-care, talk to your Health Advisor.

Resources:

www.ucsfhealth.org

www.foxchase.org

www.psychologytoday.com

www.cancer.org

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