It can be difficult to make time for self-care – for both people with pancreatic cancer and those touched by the disease. But making time to recharge, whatever that looks like for you, is vital for your physical and mental health. Whether it’s getting together with friends or loved ones, going for a walk in nature or simply taking a nap, these activities can rejuvenate, build strength and improve mental health.
In need of some ideas to jump-start self-care? Here are five tips to get started.
- Get moving. In addition to being essential for your physical health, exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress. Anything from a walk around the block to strength training or cycling can make a difference. There are plenty of low-impact and light exercises, too, if strain on the joints or body is a concern. Seated or water-based fitness programs can be a fun way to get moving without worrying about increased pain. Start slowly and be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
- Turn to your healthcare team for support. Supportive care (also called palliative care) should be considered at all steps of treatment. These specialized doctors, nurses, counselors, social workers can help evaluate both patient and family for social support and mental health needs. Contact PanCAN Patient Services for a listing of supportive/palliative care providers near you or ask your healthcare team.
- Get centered. Consider calming activities like breathing exercises or restorative yoga. These practices can help shift your nervous system into a state of rest and relaxation. This can help you to face challenges ahead with a strong body and mind.
- Try journaling. Research confirms that “expressive writing” may minimize stress and help people with cancer feel better emotionally, mentally and physically. Whether the journal is on paper or on the computer, shared with others or not, having an outlet to communicate thoughts and feelings can be comforting and even liberating.
- Make sleep a priority. Tips for getting better sleep include establishing (and sticking to) a bedtime routine and giving aromatherapy or a hot bath a try. Reading, gentle stretching or relaxing music before bed can also help you improve sleep hygiene and get the rest your body needs.
- Start communicating. Talk with others who are facing similar challenges. Finding community among other people with pancreatic cancer, caregivers and loved ones can help you navigate the days ahead knowing you can turn to a group of supporters at your side when you need them. Contact PanCAN Patient Services for in-person and online support groups. You can also connect one-on-one with others through PanCAN’s Survivor & Caregiver Network.