• Take a quick walk, preferably outside, but walking on a treadmill or quickly through your house will work too.
  • Take a jog or a run outside.
  • Take a bike ride.
  • Jump on a rebounder.
  • Dancercise
  • Any other exercise that forces you to use your arms and/or legs.
  • Do deep breathing exercises. For these, breathe in deeply to a count of 4, taking air into the lower parts of your lungs (place your hands on your lower ribcage to help you feel the deep breath), hold your breath for another count of 4, then breathe out slowly, to a count of 8. Do this sequence 3 times.
  • Tapping (This is my personal favorite.) Tapping reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, by 43%. I will be glad to teach this in a group Zoom meeting if anyone is interested. Also, you can Google, “How to Tap Jessica Ortner,” to get great instructional videos. The Tapping Solution app is my favorite go-to to help with tapping.
  • Journaling
  • Gratitude jar or journal
  • Mindfulness Meditation (The Headspace app is an excellent tool to help you learn this kind of meditation. If you already have it, check out the “Managing Anxiety” section. It is extremely helpful.)
  • Any meditative craft such as painting, coloring, knitting, crocheting, or needlework.
  • Reading
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  • Acknowledge Your Feelings: It’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions when facing cancer diagnosis and treatment. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up, whether it’s fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, or something entirely different. Acknowledging your feelings is the first step towards processing them. Once acknowledged, journaling or tapping about them can be especially helpful.
  • Connect with Support Systems: Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, and healthcare professionals who can provide emotional support and understanding. Joining support groups or online communities with fellow cancer patients can also offer valuable solidarity and shared experiences. The IBC Network Community is a growing group of IBC sisters, who desire to help their own journey while they connect with and support others on the same path. If the family and friend group you have is not especially supportive, lean on your sisters for emotional support during this time.
  • Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself during this challenging time. All cancer treatments can be physically and emotionally exhausting, but IBC treatment is especially difficult, so prioritize self-care activities that bring you comfort and relaxation. Whether it’s taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, or indulging in your favorite hobby, make time for self-compassion.
  • Stay Informed, but Limit Information Overload: Educate yourself about IBC and treatment options to empower yourself in decision-making. However, be mindful of information overload, which can contribute to anxiety and overwhelm. Seek reliable sources of information, such as the IBC Network Foundation and set boundaries around how much news and medical information you consume.
  • Maintain Routine and Structure: IBC treatment is a major disruptor to our regular routines, so it can lead to feelings of instability. Establishing a sense of routine and structure can provide a sense of stability and control amidst uncertainty. Set small goals for each day and prioritize activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. In the places that it is possible, try to keep your schedule as routine as possible.
  • Seek Professional Support: Don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor, who specializes in supporting cancer patients. Therapy can provide a safe space to explore your feelings, develop coping strategies, and navigate the emotional complexities of cancer diagnosis, treatment, and beyond.  Also, if you are having emotional upheaval that you find difficult to deal with, with these suggestions, you might want to consider anti-anxiety medication for the short term. Many sisters (including me) have found great relief from anti-anxiety meds during treatment. Again, speak to your doctor about this.
Living Beyond with Martha Van Dam

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