The winter can be a tough time for anyone, but it’s especially tough for those living with cancer. Due to the cold weather and early sunsets, you might feel drained, less motivated to do activities you enjoy, and even struggle to keep up with your day-to-day routine. Maintaining a positive outlook is crucial to your general health and wellbeing and will help you stay resilient in your fight against cancer. Below are some tips to help you overcome seasonal depression.
1. Get Outside and Exercise
Getting outside for some light exercise is a great way to boost your mood. If you live in a colder climate, it can be difficult to muster up the energy to go outside, but even just a 15-minute walk can do wonders. The fresh air can help wake you up, and the sun provides necessary vitamin D. If the cold is too much for you, there are many virtual exercise classes available to help you get your blood pumping without leaving the comfort of your home.
Whether you exercise outside or indoors, it is important to move your body to keep you mentally and physically strong.
2. Getting Sleep and Eating a Well-Balanced Diet
Sleeping and eating well are always important when battling cancer, but they can become even more so during the winter months. If you don’t get enough sleep, it can affect your mood and increase your risk of depression. It is critical to maintain a bedtime routine that allows you to get a full and refreshing night’s sleep. Before going to bed, try to limit the use of your phone and TV because the blue light they emit can interfere with your sleep.
Eating a well-balanced diet can help to sustain energy and promotes recovery, especially when you are receiving cancer treatment. Processed foods and anything with high amounts of refined sugar can worsen your mood and have been linked to depression. Here is a tip: stick to foods found on the perimeter of your grocery store because they tend to be healthier and less processed.
3. Connect with Family and Friends
Humans are very social beings, and it is important to talk with the people you love. Human connection can help to reduce anxiety and depression and can help give you something to look forward to. If you don’t want to leave the comfort of your home, you can schedule a weekly video chat or phone calls with a friend.
Speaking with loved ones you trust can help to relieve any built up anxiety and can allow you to talk through negative thoughts and about ways to help control them.
4.Meditation and Journalling
Meditation is beneficial in the morning when you first wake up and at night before you go to sleep. Meditation can help you prepare your mind for the day ahead and relax so you can get a good night’s sleep. If you are new to meditation, there are many guided mediation videos you can watch on YouTube or apps and podcasts you can follow along with.
Journaling is a great way to express yourself and your feelings. Many therapists will advise patients to write down how they felt throughout the day and to talk about any specific moments that gave them anxiety or joy. Write down the negatives of the day to help release them from your body but also remind yourself of all the positives that happened. Sometimes the bad things outweigh the good, which makes it even more important to keep track of them.
5. Know When to Seek Out Professional Help.
Having cancer is difficult and scary. It’s important to have a safe space to express your fears without the worry of being judged. Being open and honest about your feelings with your medical provider can allow you to take the necessary steps towards a healthier mind. Oftentimes your medical provider will refer you to a licensed therapist. A therapist can provide you with the tools you need to avoid letting your fears consume your life. It is especially important to reach out for help if you are experiencing anything listed below,
Feeling depressed most of the day.
Loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities.
Weight and appetite fluctuations.
Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or excessive guilt.
Concentration is more difficult than usual.
Severe mood swings.
Thoughts of death, suicide, or causing harm to yourself or others.