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Did you know that breast cancer is the world's most commonly-diagnosed cancer? Living with breast cancer is a challenge, and while we primarily focus on the physical aspects of dealing with cancer, it can also severely impact one's mental health. Living with breast cancer can impact one's mental well-being due to side effects such as insomnia and mood swings caused by changing hormone levels. Furthermore, it can also affect one's body image as their weight may fluctuate, and their appearance may vary due to treatment. Many women with breast cancer blame themselves for their sickness, while others feel like they are being punished.
If you'd also like to build more resilience and improve your mental well-being, here are some tips by Richa Vashista, Chief Mental Health Expert, AtEase, that you can keep in mind:
Do: Be gentle with yourself
While dealing with cancer, it may be hard to think about things other than your sickness. But you are much more than your cancer. So don't be too harsh on yourself in a difficult situation.
Don't: Bury your feelings
Dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis isn't easy. However, your feelings are real and valid, and you can take time to feel your feelings. You have a right to feel angry, sad, upset, mournful, scared, nervous, regretful, relieved, happy, or any other emotion you experience.
Do: Adapt and be flexible
Living with breast cancer can ultimately impact your plans for yourself and your life. Learning how to adapt and switch plans while still trying to focus on your goals is a big part of resilience.
Don't: Isolate yourself
It's easy to push people away when you are going through a difficult time. You may want to be by yourself to deal with your emotions or prove to others that you can do things yourself. Whatever the reason, this is the time to lean on your loved ones, friends, family, colleagues and community members for support. And suppose you struggle with your emotional well-being. In that case, you can also try speaking to a mental health professional who can help you navigate the situations and experiences you are going through.
Do: Take care of yourself
When one is living with cancer, it takes a toll on the body. You may neglect your own needs. Losing your appetite, ignoring exercise, and not getting enough sleep are all common while dealing with a crisis. Instead, make sure to shift your focus onto building your self-nurturance skills. Ensure you are getting enough sleep, nutrition, and hydration and are keeping up with all your medical appointments.
Don't: Lose sight of things in your control
Many things in life are out of your control. However, instead of worrying about them, it's beneficial for your mental well-being to focus on things that are within your control. For example, focus on following advice from your doctors, taking care of yourself, spending time with the people you care about, and doing things you enjoy, instead of spending all your time worrying about things you cannot change.
While living with cancer is challenging, taking care of yourself through your treatment and recovery journey is essential. Focusing on building resilience and mental well-being can help you better deal with your diagnosis and treatment and enable you to live healthier and happier lives.