Self-Care for the Body, Mind and Spirit
Taking Care of Your Body
Many survivors find their cancer experience is a turning point in the way they approach their health and self care. Good health behaviors can do wonders for the body. Although your individual needs are unique, all survivors benefit from:
Eating a healthy diet.
In a nutshell, you should eat less red and processed meats, and eat more fruits and vegetables.
Dietitians at the Graham Cancer Center can provide more detail about how to improve your diet. Call 302-623-4593 (extension 2) to schedule your appointment.
Please consult with your physician before making any dietary changes.
Start adding activity slowly and work up to at least three times per week for 20 minutes. Establish a routine and stick to it.
Please consult with your physician before starting an exercise routine.
Maintaining a healthy weight.
Talk to your dietitian or a doctor specializing in weight loss for help losing weight and reducing your BMI if you are overweight.
Limiting alcohol consumption.
Men should have no more than two alcohol drinks a day; women should have no more than one.
Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health. See the Resources page for help quitting.
Every time you go outside during daylight hours — even on cloudy or hazy days and even in winter — wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
Getting enough sleep.
Good sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Try to get seven to eight hours a night.
Taking Care of Your Mind and Spirit
While there is no question that cancer takes a toll on the body, it also can take a significant toll on your mental and emotional health. It is normal to experience stress and anxiety during and after cancer treatment. Good health behaviors, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising, can do wonders for the mind as well as the body.
Some suggestions for managing stress and anxiety include:
- Finding ways to relax — Studies show that as little as five minutes a day of meditation, deep breathing or yoga can lower blood pressure, release healing hormones and increase creativity.
- Exercising — Release those endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers!
- Laughing as often as possible — Laughter lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones and boosts your immune system’s functioning.
- Doing things you enjoy — Hobbies increase creativity, help prevent burnout and allow you to recharge. Make time for old or new ones, such as gardening, crafting, fishing, games or reading.
- Asking for and accepting help — Clarify values and prioritize tasks. Address things that are both important and urgent first. Also, learn how to say “no” to requests that overwhelm you.
- Connecting with others — Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. Find a support group if you think being around other cancer survivors will help you. Pets can also bring you joy and comfort.
- Being grateful — Research shows gratitude exercises results in fewer physical complaints and higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. List three things you are thankful for each day.
If you’re struggling to adjust to your “new normal,” the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute offers counseling and support by professionals with expertise in the emotional and psychological side effects of cancer treatment and survivorship. See Resources for more information, or call our Survivorship Nurse Navigator at 302-623-4866.
Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute
4701 Ogletown-Stanton Road, Newark, DE 19713 directions