Receiving a cancer diagnosis is not easy, and the resulting stress can weaken the immune system and worsen symptoms. During a pandemic, stress is exacerbated. While undergoing cancer treatment, it’s important to minimize stress and keep your immune system in good shape for the best possible outcome. There are a few things you can do from home to reduce stress. Most importantly, remember to be kind to yourself and do the best that you can with your situation—it’s a big accomplishment to simply get through each day.
Join a Support Group
Find an online group via social media to connect with others. Isolation causes feelings of stress to increase. The solution can be as simple as connecting with others with a similar problem to help you work through your anxiety.
The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) produced a webinar with a panel of experts who discuss how to manage stress during this unprecedented time, as well as a conversation with cancer control expert, Dr. Otis Brawley where he answers questions from cancer patients and survivors who are concerned about the epidemic and what this means for their care.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Managing stress includes eating healthy during treatment. A well-managed diet will keep you feeling good, both physically and mentally. For thyroid cancer patients, this may include adopting a low-iodine diet, depending on where you are in your treatment. You can find over 300 healthy, treatment-friendly recipes in our cookbook.
Stress can lead to insomnia and other sleeping problems, but resting is vital for physical and mental health. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Lack of sleep causes issues such as weakened immunity, hypertension, reduced metabolism, increased dopamine levels, reduced endorphin production, and more. Your body needs time to recover, and without that time its essential functions can suffer.
Pick up hobbies like sewing, painting, reading, gardening, video games, and more. You don’t have to be the best at anything—just try to keep your mind busy. When you feel like you are beginning to get stressed out again, switch to something new. This can be a great time of discovery to learn the things that you have never had time to do before.
If possible, taking a walk in the sun for a few minutes can do wonders. If you can’t, try stretching or yoga. Running in place can also be effective to raise your heart rate. Exercise can help combat issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia and more. Keeping a regular exercise regimen can make all the difference in your treatment.
Take five to ten minutes of your day to let go and find a sense of inner calm. You can do this with YouTube tutorials or apps if you don’t know where to start. Meditation has been shown to help with an array of conditions, both physical and mental.