Living with breast cancer, or life after breast cancer comes with its own stressors. Stress can come from any source, from the stress of enduring surgery; the stress of additional financial burdens; or stress from trying to maintain your “normal” life while also dealing with cancer. Priorities shift, things change. Sometimes in all of this stress you find yourself taking care of everyone and everything else except for…you. Not in a basic necessity way, but more in terms of the things that nourish your soul. Things like exercise, praying, or even doing something fun and creative, maybe a hobby like sewing or crafting, have fallen by the wayside. Because these things seem trivial and a little bit selfish to you.
This is a normal chain of events for someone who is dealing with a disruptive life event such as breast cancer. However, over time, this neglect to these small, yet significant parts of life can manifest themselves in other ways. Maybe you’re anxious, constantly running around, or feel like you’re always reactive instead of being proactive. Maybe your shoulders are creeping upwards towards your ears a little more each day. Maybe you just feel plain stressed.
Feeling like you have to attend to everyone else and all other priorities without devoting time to yourself is actually selfish in and of itself. This is because not taking time to yourself, time to recoup, take a step back, and reflect and relax, whether by going for a run or by praying, results in a stressed, anxious version of yourself. And those who you are taking care of will have to deal with a different version of yourself—instead of the bright, balanced version of you that only prevails when you take time for yourself. The following are some ideas to make time for yourself.
Do some 4:7:8 breathing
This breathing exercise is done by inhaling for a count of four, holding for a count of seven, and breathing out for a count of eight. This can be done once, or can be repeated as many times as you like.
You can just do it once and get a nice effect, although I usually like to do it three times. You can also keep going and repeat the cycle as many times as you like.
Ask: “How can I make this moment more ‘Me’?”
Instead of asking, “What do I want?”, which can be too big and too general of a question to digest, ask How can I make this moment more “me”? This helps you become more present in the moment, and allows you to add more of your personal touch to a situation, and express your personality or your true self.
You can try this: How can I make this sweater more “me”? Or “…this conversation” “…this dinner I’m making.” By doing so you can be more authentic and in tune to yourself. Also, this will allow others to see the true gift of your personality. You might feel better about yourself too.
Create some art
This may sound silly, but if you feel sort of stuck, if you’re feeling down or angry, take out a pen and piece of paper and take five minutes to draw how you feel. Or if you’re more talented, dance it out, or sing it away!
The point of this is that once your feelings are out in a tangible way, you can acknowledge them and move on. It’s when feelings are buried inside of us with no outlet that things can manifest themselves in a negative manner. If you like, you can even toss your art away when you’re done!
Try some of these techniques and you’ll be on your way to a better you!
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