Valentine’s Day is typically the reserve of couples – a time to show a partner that you care. However, in this blog, information production and promotion officer Genevieve suggests things you can do to show yourself some love and self-care, especially if you have cancer or if you are caring for someone who has.
It is that time of year again: the shops are full of red and pink heart-shaped cards, sweets, chocolates and many cute but not entirely necessary trinkets declaring “I you” and “I us”. The good thing is, it doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day to show yourself some love and partake in a bit of self-care. Whether you are taking time for yourself, or doing something for a friend, there are loads of ways you can show that you care.
Being diagnosed with cancer can be a very stressful and emotional time but there is plenty of information and support available. Here are our top tips for self-care, which you could do for yourself, or suggest to a friend:
1. Eat well Make yourself a delicious meal or tasty mocktail using a recipe from our Recipes for people affected by cancer booklet. We have helpful tips about eating healthily such as cutting back on alcohol and eating more fruit and vegetables.
2. Make time to relax and breatheWhy not take up yoga, give meditation a go or try a different mind-body therapy? Read more about Mind-body therapies on our website. You can order a copy of our Relax and breathe CD which can help you learn ways to manage breathlessness.
3. Get the most out of your appointments Talk to your healthcare team and discuss your concerns with them. If you are attending a lot of appointments and dealing with lots of information, it may help to take a friend or family member to appointments with you. It can also help to make a list of questions to ask your doctor so that you don't forget anything you're unsure of. It may help to read The cancer guide which has advice about making the most of appointments. The Macmillan Organiser has space and guidance about recording appointments and symptoms. Hopefully this will help you feel more in control of what’s happening.
4. If you have energy, try to get activeGoing for a short walk and getting some fresh air can do wonders for your well-being. Or, you could go to an exercise class with a friend, which might be a fun way to exercise. You can read more about keeping active online. You can also order a copy of the new edition of our Physical activity and cancer booklet.
5. Sleep as well as you canIf you have difficulty sleeping, having a regular bedtime routine, avoiding caffeine, and being more active during the day, might help. Our booklet Coping with fatigue (tiredness) includes a useful Fatigue diary which will help you to track when you’re more likely to feel fatigued and can help you plan for when you have more energy. You can also order the free audiobook version of Coping with fatigue (tiredness) or listen to it online.
6. Be kind (to yourself and others!)Find time to do something you enjoy every day, even if this is something small like a TV programme you like, or reading a favourite magazine. Recognise your successes, however big or small – you're doing well... give yourself a break! Pass this kindness onto others. For example, read Doug’s story about kindness. We have lots of information about emotions and how to deal with difficult feelings if you are coping with a cancer diagnosis. Here's an excellent tip from our supporter Rebecca:
7. Talk to friends and family If you can, talk openly about your feelings with people you trust. It can be difficult to talk about your emotions with others, but you may find it helpful and we have lots of information about talking which may help you. If you do not feel like talking to friends and family, you can call our support line on 0808 808 00 00.
8. Try a support group Meeting people going through something similar to you might be helpful. Getting support can be a great comfort. You can use our useful online search tool to find out what support there is and what's happening ‘in your area’. Alternatively, you can share your experiences and chat to others on our Online Community.
Whatever you do this Valentine's Day, be sure to include a little bit of self-care! For support, guidance or more information, call the Macmillan Support Line free on 0808 808 00 00, 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm, or visit the Information and Support section of our website.
To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.
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The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.
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