Soul-Soothing Techniques for Cancer Survivors

Tips for emotional and spiritual recovery

A guest article by Craig Meadows survivingdayone.com

We all know cancer and cancer treatments take their toll on the body, but in our rush to help people become physically well again, it’s all too easy to overlook the toll that is taken on the spirit. The emotional and psychological impacts of cancer can be extreme and long-lasting. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that emotional and spiritual recovery are included in survivors’ overall recovery plan.

Whether you’re a survivor yourself or want to make a difference in a loved one’s life, here are some ways to soothe the soul:

Foster a Wellness-First Environment

It’s easy to think of emotions, especially difficult ones, as forces that bubble up from some place deep, deep within our psyches. Though this can be the case — and certainly, many survivors have symptoms of PTSD from their experience with cancer — emotions are more influenced by surface-level stimuli than you might think. For example, something as simple as whether or not the blinds are open in your room can have a massive impact on your mood. Our environments don’t necessarily create emotions, but they certainly impact which emotions have space to blossom.

Take some time to foster a wellness-first environment in your or your loved one’s home. This could be a full-on renovation, but simple changes are often effective enough on their own. For example, Psychology Today notes decorating with plants improves air quality and has been linked to higher mood stability. Adding decorative mirrors to your wall art can boost light levels in a room and reduce fatigue. Consider creating a space in your home where you can meditate, read, or otherwise enjoy a peaceful moment to yourself in order to reduce anxiety and foster spiritual growth.

(Also see my article How to Make Your Home a Cancer Recovery Zone.)

Create Positive Experiences

Your emotions play an integral role in health and healing. When we undergo a major, sustained source of trauma such as cancer treatment, we accumulate innumerable moments of pain, fear, and anxiety. It’s easy for those moments to start to feel like the definitive moments of our lives, and, as a result, our lives can begin to feel miserable overall. You can combat this feeling, however, by creating and collecting positive, joyful moments.

For example, you might decide to visit a nature center or read a highly acclaimed book. Your positive experience for the day could be spending one-on-one time with a family member, or it might be as simple as filling out a favorite page in a coloring book — an activity BeBrainFit advocates for stress relief and improved sleep.

What you do itself isn’t as important as making sure you’re finding ways to pursue joy and foster brighter experiences. In doing so, you’ll help train your mind to look for good things, not bad — and you’ll notice how much happiness there truly is in your life.

Get Help When You Need It

Finally, there is never any shame in seeking mental healthcare. Major, long-term illness can be a serious source of trauma, and it’s not something you should have to shoulder all by yourself. Look for a therapist who is trained in working with cancer survivors. They can help you navigate the specific tools and coping skills that will best address your needs. Trauma-informed therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing can be powerful tools for survivors who need more focused care to fully recover.

Cancer treatment can leave you feeling helpless, lost, and disconnected from your own identity. Focus on meeting your emotional and spiritual needs as a survivor. You deserve peace — seek ways to find it within yourself.

Photo Credit: Pexels

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