Chill Out!


This post deals with the third factor that we can have control over to improve our odds of not having cancer or having a recurrence.

There are four areas. They are:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Activity
  3. Stress Management
  4. Toxins

Today my focus is on stress management.

I am all ears.  I seriously need to learn how to handle stress. Many of the times I get sick it was stress induced.  I  tend to stuff it down until things are so volatile I explode emotionally.

 

There are numerous things that you can do to relax and unwind. I’m going to share with you the ones suggested to me, and the ones I have found to help reduce stress.

Yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and  a daily devotional were at the top of lists of suggestions. My attemps at yoga were not stress reducing.  The instructor was good,  the moves weren’t  beyond a normal person’s range,  but with a back injury, any pressure on the lower spine caused pain and all floor moves were a strain. I am interested in trying Tai Chi. I have asked at our local YMCA if they offer it,  if not I may look it up on Youtube.

I have a daily devotional, and I journal in my bullet journal.  I find that by writing down my thoughts in my bujo,  I tend to write it down, and not vent to others.  This seems to be somewhat calming because as I write it out, I can often think of how to resolve or  see that I need to shake it off.

Exercise in various forms can be a huge stress releiver. The swim classes that I have been taking are relaxing to me. Walking on a treadmill is not relaxing,  but  going for a walk at the park is very relaxing. OK, maybe not while I am huffing up that little hill on the backside,  but when I am finished and have walked the distance,  there is a satisfaction of accomplishment and a soothing effect on the entire body.  When I was exercising regularly a few years ago,  I would use the elliptical and I participated in a kickboxing class. I really enjoyed the kickboxing,  but then they dropped it.  I didn’t feel like the elliptical was helping in stress reduction, although it was helping me to achieve better cardiovascular fitness so in effect it really was helping to reduce my stress!

A healthy nutritious diet can also reduce stress whereas a high junkfood diet can contribute to additional stress in your body.

Adult coloring books. There is something very gratifying about coloring in those little spaces! My husband bought me a couple different types of coloring books, and I recently purchased a coloring book planner.  My attention lately has been fully devoted to the planner.  If I’m not jotting my to do list, and scheduling apointments, I’m coloring in the margins. The only time this isn’t relaxing is when my eyes are strained, and it becomes aggravating and can actually lead to a headache.

A glass of wine. Red wine has  many benefits,  one of which is to relax you. My oncologist stated that a glass of red wine, three times a week would be  beneficial for my health and well being. Three glasses, not three bottles.

Some  people find fishing relaxing and a way to cope with stress. Others  will paint furniture or landscapes. I am going to try my hand at the rock painting and leave them around our area. I’ll take a picture of them once I go find some flat river rocks.

Even with all of these options,   I  have a hard time with stress management. I tend to be one of those people who wears their heart on their sleeve and take things to heart. I get wound up when things don’t go as planned, which is most of the time. I get upset when others don’t do their part. I worry about my kids,  where they are what they are doing, whether they are safe. I worry about the cancer –  what if it comes back, what if it spreads next time,  what if my girls end up with it, what if . . . and then I am so wound up that even the bottle of wine doesn’t help.

My sister’s solution is Xanax.  I don’t have a prescription to Xanax, but I am wondering  how in the world I am going to manage this emotional rollercoaster that I have been on ever since being diagnosed. The medications only contribute more, causing my emotions to be heightened.

While you are reading this, I will be practicing my favorite form of relaxation: toes in the sand.

What do you do to unwind? How do you manage the daily stress? The emotional stress? What form of stress releif do you practice?

I will do everything within my power to never have to go through this again, including changing my lifestyle completely.

Write on my friends, write on.

 

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You’ve Got to Move It!


There are four things that you can do to improve your odds of not having cancer or having a recurrence of cancer. They are:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Activity
  3. Stress Management
  4. Toxins

Today my focus is on the second one, activity.

It is recommended that we move 10,000 steps a day and that we are active for at least 30 minutes a day, six days a week. Now, that is the bare minimum.

Coming off the end of radiation treatment,  the fatigue was overwhelming. I had very little energy to do anything more than going to my treatments, walk up and down the hall a few times a day, and slept the bulk of the time.

Now that I am recovering from the fatigue,  it’s still lingering but not nearly as bad.

The first time I went to the park to walk, I had to sit on a park bench after just a few minutes. I ended up doing a half mile but stopping three times because I was so weak. My mind goes instantly to a few years ago when I was diligently doing my cardio, working for an hour at a time on an elliptical, treadmill, or multi-trainer.  But I kept at it.  The next week I was able to do fifteen minutes continuously. The following week I was up to 18 minutes.

I started doing some videos at home with Fitness Marshall. I could barely do one, then rest and do another later. Little by little though I am gaining strength and endurance.

For everyone,  it is recommended that we get 30 minutes of cardio movement daily. For a cancer patient, it is vitally important. Movement increases your blood flow, it strengthens your veins, it strengthens your heart.  You don’t have to run marathons –  thank God or I’d be screwed.

In fact, starting off it is recommended that we engage in a moderate exercise of 30 minutes. Coming off of radiation 30 minutes was overwhelming. Nobody was pressuring me to do more except my own inner drive.  I had to come to terms with the reality of where I was,  what I had been through, and know that if I kept at it,  I would see improvement.

Well, I have. I’m not there yet but I’ve improved.  I can stay on the treadmill for nearly 30 minutes at a time.  I can keep up with the Zumba class for nearly the full 45 minutes. I started an aqua aerobics class today and managed the entire class without having to stop. That may not sound like much to some of you, but considering just a few weeks ago, I had to sit on the park bench after only ten minutes,  it’s progress.

I see many people that set a goal to run a marathon or a 5K. If you like to run go for it. I need to lose a significant amount of weight before I would feel comfortable running.  I think it would be damaging to my knees at my current weight.

I want to be able to walk down the beach to the pier without sucking wind. I want to be able to go  up the stairs without feeling exhausted.  I want to be able to do the things I need to do throughout the day without feeling like I need a nap. Not that there is anything wrong with naps,  but when you feel drained every day after just cleaning the bathroom,  it doesn’t get the house clean.

I know it will be there waiting for me tomorrow,  but when you go in the bathroom and it smells like toilet. . . . .  some things have to be done now.

Speaking of current weight . . . I haven’t been making weekly posts or anything,  but I am down 32 pounds since surgery on May 3rd.

A lot of that was due to not having much appetite with new medications to take, general nausea from chemo medicines, facing side effects of treatments, learning what foods would stay down and be tolerated because I do not like to puke.

The last ten, however, has been hard fought. I have reached a point where nausea has subsided or I’ve just learned which foods to avoid. My appetite on some days makes me feel ravenous. I have to be careful,  a lot of bread type things do not cause nausea and they are easy to grab. Pretzels, toast with peanut butter, crackers,  are all former go to snacks.

I have to limit my carbs. Whether caused by the stress of all of this or just timing with genetics and being overweight,  but I was also diagnosed with diabetes so I have to learn how to eat differently. As I mentioned last week,  the dietician has been one of the best parts of my treatment plan.  When my primary doctor told me to watch my carbs, he said no more than 15 carbs.

I was very careful not to eat more than 15 carbs for the entire day. That isn’t a  lot.  So, I go to the dietician and she says limit each item to 15 grams of carbs,  but I should have 45 grams a day. Well,  That was also why I lost a few of those pounds.

Exercise can help in weight loss. My goal, however, is not to exercise to lose weight. My goal is to exercise, to a minimum of 30 minutes a day in some form or other to improve my quality of life and prevent the recurrence of cancer.

I have been active at least three days a week for the past month. That is a big improvement from the previous three months. This week starts my five days a week plan.  I don’t know how long it will take me to be comfortable at this level, but I’ve always heard that beyond your comfort zone is when you see improvement.

The important thing is to start where you are.  If you walk to the end of your driveway and back and that is all you can do,  then shoot for doing that every day for at least a week before increasing.  Then, do it twice a day for a while until that is comfortable. Then add something else.

You don’t have to join a gym,   you can walk in your neighborhood.  You can exercise with youtube videos.  You can do jumping jacks in your living room – well, maybe you can.  I couldn’t a few weeks ago.  I didn’t have the energy after radiation. Who knows, maybe next week I will.

Most of us need to take better care of ourselves. I certainly do. This is a hard lesson for me,  to make myself a priority and take care of myself.

As I prepare a lesson for tonight and will have to wear one of those paper hospital masks to protect myself from germs because I will be around people,  I am reminded that this is worth it.  I am worth it.

 

I will do everything within my power to never have to go through this again.

Write on my friends, write on.