10 ways to beat the blues during treatment

September 20, 2017 | by Alexander Hantel, M.D.

Sad, angry, frustrated, depressed — if you feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster as you go through cancer treatment, take a deep breath. You are not alone. 

Experiencing a wide range of emotions is a normal part of the cancer journey. One of the biggest challenges you may face during treatment is learning how to cope with all those emotions.

To beat the blues during treatment, try these strategies and small lifestyle changes:

  1. Meditate or create a calming ritual when you feel stressed.
  2. Think positively by reflecting on special times with your loved ones.
  3. Sneak in a little bit more sleep. Bring a sleeping mask to treatment to help you nap. Try to take short (less than an hour) daytime naps if needed to avoid interfering with nighttime sleep.  
  4. Get a handle on hair loss. If you think you might want a wig, buy it before treatment begins or at the start of treatment. If you know you are going to lose your hair, take control of the situation by donating your hair ahead of time to Locks of Love.
  5. Battle night sweats by taking a cool shower before bed, using cotton sheets and wearing a cotton nightshirt, and keeping your bedroom cool.
  6. Watch your favorite television show or movie on your downtime or during treatment.
  7. Keep your mind busy by journaling or playing crossword puzzles and mind games. These games are not only entertaining, but can also help you avoid chemo brain.
  8. Put together a “goodie bag” of hard candy and water when your mouth is dry and nothing tastes good.
  9. Wear comfy clothes and dress in layers during treatment — it’s a good excuse to dress in sweatpants or yoga pants.
  10. Eat what you can when you can. Learn how to eat healthy during treatment.

Feelings of depression, anxiety and fear are very common and normal responses to a cancer diagnosis.  If you notice one of the following symptoms lasts for more than two weeks and interferes with your day-to-day activities, contact your doctor: 

  • Feeling sad most of the time
  • Loss of pleasure and interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Nervousness
  • Slow physicaland mental responses
  • Unexplained tiredness
  • Feeling worthless
  • Feeling guilt for no reason
  • Decreased concentration ability
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

If you need more ways to beat the blues, consider joining a support group. You may find it encouraging to talk to others in a similar situation. 

How do you stay positive during treatment? Tell us in the below comments.

Related blogs:
5 tips for newly diagnosed cancer patients
Virtual support groups bring cancer patients together
Reiki helps cancer patients and caregivers find balance

 

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