As a brain tumor patient or caregiver, you can feel a variety of emotions. As a patient receiving unexpected news, sometimes taking care of yourself emotionally can be missed when you are focused on the physical effects related to your illness. As a caregiver, one of the most important things you can do is take care of your own emotional and physical needs. This allows you to be a more effective caregiver. Simple things can be done to improve how you feel but how you do that is up to you. You never know how your day will play out, but you can always carve out time to breathe. Focus on yourself to improve how you feel on a daily basis.
Here are a five tips for taking care of yourself.
- Be Present: You may have positive and negative feelings about what is going on and it can be easy to let certain thoughts consume and dictate your moods. It can be difficult to stay present when you receive news about your diagnosis. Regardless of all the things that go wrong – pay attention to the positive things that happen each day. Focus on the small things that you are able to do each day. You will have some good and some bad days, but think about the things that are around you that bring you joy and continue to keep those things around. This allows you to control your thoughts and focus more on the things that matter. At the end of each day, do something positive for yourself, no matter how big or small.
- Find Balance: Being able to find some stability outside of appointments, treatments, scans, etc. is key. You may not be able to continue the life that you had prior to diagnosis, but a few changes can get you back on a routine and help you through this process. Make it a necessity to have a life outside of your appointments. As a patient, think about when you have the most energy during the day. This is the time to get things done, but limit yourself and take it easy. Having a daily routine can motivate you, makes you feel hopeful, and gives you a purpose. Allow yourself to still be a student of life and focus on the things that bring you meaning.
- Set Goals: As a brain tumor patient, set a realistic goal that you can complete. Be as specific as you can with your goals – what will you do to get to this goal, do you think this is something that you can carry out, how much time will you give yourself to accomplish this goal? As you go through this process, it’s important to reward yourself for any little step you take towards this big goal you are working towards. Sometimes, we put limitations on ourselves when we receive unexpected news. By rewarding yourself, this is a way to continue to motivate yourself and be proud that you still have some fight left in you.
- Support System: Surround yourself with people that care about you and that you feel comfortable being around. Be open to sharing your experiences and feelings with someone so that you’re not holding in any feelings you are having. This helps you deal with your emotions in a healthy way.
- Just Breathe: Take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. Some helpful relaxation techniques (deep breathing techniques, guided imagery) may be helpful when you need to reduce some stress. This will allow you to be able to enjoy moments during this difficult time.