Self-care, which can be defined as actions or activities a person takes to reach their optimal physical and mental well-being, is important for those affected by lung cancer. Living with lung cancer, whether as a patient, survivor, or caregiver, can be stressful. Practicing self-care can help manage this stress and allow you to better face new challenges that life with cancer can bring.
You may feel that there aren’t enough hours in the day to devote time to yourself. However, prioritizing your own physical and mental well-being can help you feel calmer, more focused, and rejuvenated. Even just a few minutes a day of caring for yourself can make a difference, particularly during these difficult and stressful times.
Self-care is especially important for caregivers. Self-care isn’t choosing yourself over others; it’s balancing caring for loved ones and being aware and mindful of your own needs. Taking care of yourself can help you care of your loved one even better.
There are so many ways to practice self-care. We asked our community of lung cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers their favorite self-care activities; check out some of their suggestions!
Whatever it means to you—yoga, walking the dog, or stretching—exercise is a great way to take care of yourself. Moderate physical activity can help improve quality of life, elevate mood, lessen fatigue, and perhaps even spur recovery. Swimming, walking, and yoga are some of the best ways to exercise for lung cancer patients because they are moderate and low-impact. Whether you set a strict schedule to follow or squeeze in some activity when you can, exercise can be a great form of self-care.
“I go out for exercise every morning straight after breakfast – rain, wind, or shine – and be thankful for all the sounds and sights of nature around me, no matter how small.” –Sally
“Even though I may not want to walk a bit because of lack of energy and/or lung capacity, I do walk at least a block distance a day.” –Alessia
If you are interested in learning more about why yoga in particular can be a great form of self-care, check out The Benefits of Yoga for Lung Cancer Patients.
Whether you are a caregiver who doesn’t feel they have time to make a nutritious meal or a patient who is experiencing loss of appetite, taste changes, or nausea that make eating unpleasant or difficult, eating healthy meals can feel impossible. However, it’s important to continue to feed your body with healthy, clean foods and make a habit of eating nutritious food. Eating healthy is an excellent way to take care of yourself.
“Even though I may not have much of an appetite, I know I must eat and maintain a caloric intake, so I do my best.” –Alessia
If you are interested in learning more about maintaining weight during lung cancer treatment, be sure to read Promoting Weight Gain During Cancer Treatment.
Connect with friends
Relationships are vital to our well-being, even without cancer. Facing cancer often takes a village, and it can feel good to nourish the relationships that help keep you going. Connecting and spending time with friends who build you up and make you feel fulfilled is a great way to care for yourself.
“For my mental health, especially during COVID-19, [I practice self-care] by staying in touch with friends and family via phone, text, zoom, and social distancing.”-Stanley
Many people benefit from finding meaning in life and nurturing their connection to something bigger than themselves. Practicing spirituality can mean something different to many people; whether you meditate, practice mindfulness, pray, or have other methods for connecting with your spirituality, finding understanding in life can be an important method for practicing self-care.
“[I practice self-care] by finding joy in everyday every day. I try to begin and end my day with a few minutes of meditation and just being grateful.” -Corinne.
“[Self-care for me is] two church services on Sunday, a Bible study on Thursday, and another church service Wednesday night.” –Stanley
Sometimes, you just need time to physically spoil yourself. That might mean something different to everyone. Whether you are booking a massage, enjoying a morning sleeping in late, or eating your favorite treat, letting yourself enjoy the activities you love and make you physically feel good is an important form of self-care.
“[My self-care] is getting my nails done, doing my make-up, [taking] bubble baths, going on long walks, and watching my favorite movies.” –Emily
Remember, while many self-care activities may feel selfish, taking time to recharge so you can feel your safest, strongest, happiest, and most fulfilled can help you invest deeper in other areas of your life that need your energy, such as health, relationships, hobbies, and careers.
Self-care can mean something different to everyone, or something different every day! Find out what makes you feel good and be sure to take some time to yourself, even if just for a few minutes every day.
LUNGevity Community blogs are written by LUNGevity Foundation based on input from our online communities.