Few things are scarier than hearing the words, “You have cancer.”
One doctor’s visit can change your life forever. Whether you’ve been diagnosed with cancer or another serious condition, it can feel as if everything is spinning out of control. While you can’t change the fact that you’re living in a new reality, you can still take care of your mental health.
Here are six healthy ways to cope with your diagnosis using self-care.
1. Express your fears and other emotions.
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Tell your loved ones how you’re feeling, write down your emotions, or simply let it all out for some much-needed relief.
“Don’t be afraid to cry,” said Dr. Marleen Meyers, an oncologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. “The sorrow about the change in your health will come out sometime, and the sooner, the better.”
2. Keep up with your daily routine.
While it’s important not to bottle up your feelings, it won’t do you any good to stew in them either. Follow your regular schedule as much as possible, whether that means working, going to the gym, or calling friends. This will keep your mind from running on an endless loop of “what ifs.”
3. Practice focusing on the present.
It’s easy to get caught up in thinking about how your diagnosis will affect your future, but practicing mindfulness can help you stay calm and focused on the here and now. Try searching “guided meditation” on YouTube for helpful videos, or download an app like Headspace, Calm, or Inscape.
4. Join a supportive community.
Finding a support group for people with the same diagnosis will show you that you aren’t alone. Plus, you’ll have new friends to relate to!
“Talking with other people who are in a similar boat can allow you to feel understood in a way that others might not make you feel,” said Dr. Gail Saltz, a contributing psychology editor for Health.
5. Spend time with your friends and family.
Let your loved ones be there for you however they can. Watch a movie together, have dinner, or chat on the phone. Not only will they comfort you through this difficult time, but talking to them can also help you unburden your worries.
6. Seek professional help.
If you want to face your diagnosis with a positive mindset, try therapy! It helps you understand and process your feelings in a healthy way, giving you the tools you need to take each new challenge on.
Getting bad news about your health is never easy, but these simple practices can help you stay strong. Encourage others to do the same by sharing these tips!
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