Protect Your Mental Health When You’re a Caregiver.

When my father was diagnosed with cancer, I was trucking along, trying to handle the insane amount of stress as best I could when my husband had a routine exam and was referred to an oncologist. 

That’s when I lost it.   

I was paralyzed.  Right back to those first few weeks of anxiety,  uncertainty, and the panic that seriously eats you alive.

Cancer is terrifying.

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Figuring out how to stay mentally strong, so you can keep fighting for the long haul is essential for a caregiver.

The truth is cancer is a lot of fear, anxiety, and the elusive unknown.  You have no idea what’s going to happen, but you’re running head first into the fire. 

So you stress about all of it.  You worry constantly about everything that’s happening and everything that could happen.  And you basically drive yourself crazy with the thoughts running through your head.

You’re probably asking yourself, how does anyone get through this?

And the answer is they just keep putting one foot in front of the other and they keep trucking along.

They find ways to manage all of the chaos.  They find ways to escape the stress for a while.  And they find ways to organize the boatloads of information flying at them, so they can find things when they need them.

They figure out how to survive the day-to-day craziness and they keep moving forward step-by-step.

What’s the secret to staying mentally strong when you’ve been dropped into the most chaotic situation of your life and you’re barely hanging on…

How to Stay Mentally Strong

Decide that you can do this.

woman who looks strong and determined.

When you’re facing something as intense as cancer, it’s easy to feel defeated before you even get started. 

This situation that you’ve found yourself in is not fair.  Not at all.  And there are so many layers… Fear, overwhelm, confusion, stress, depression, anxiety, shock…  It’s a lot to take in.  

You’re gonna have days when you feel like your mental stress is at an all time high but, I need you to know…

You can do this.  No question about it.  You’re gonna ROCK this. 

Just take a few deep breaths, and decide right now that you’re going to fight.  You’re gonna take on whatever craziness comes flying at you, and you’re gonna slay it.

It’s okay if you don’t feel like you have the energy for this, deciding you’re gonna do this gives you fire.  

A fire that can keep you going for a long time.

Some days you’ll fall into bed seriously thinking… “I’m not sure how we made it today”.  But you did.  And you’re gonna make it tomorrow and the day after that.

Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, remember that you’ve got this, and tackle the obstacles as they come along. That’s how to stay mentally strong.

Heads Up:  If you have no idea how to deal with all this cancer business, we can help you formulate a plan to tackle the immediate issues… 

Finding the best care, talking with your insurance company, finding resources that will actually help, and dealing with the fear, anxiety and overwhelm of this whole situation.

We can’t control the cancer, but we CAN show you how to manage this crisis.   And it’s 100% FREE.

You can get the Cancer Combat Plan FREE here…

Accept that you can’t control this.

mom and daughter having a serious conversation.

Have you ever watched someone literally driving themselves crazy trying to control all of the chaos around them?  

  • “We can’t go see the kids this Tuesday.  We have an appointment at 2 and you’ll be too tired, it’s too much for you… we’ll have to go another time.”
  • “What are you eating?  You know you’re not supposed to have that much sugar…”
  • “Where are you going?  You don’t need to do that right now, just sit down and rest.”

One way people deal with this chaos is to jump in with both feet to stay on top of everything.  Next thing you know, you’re driving yourself and everyone else insane trying to “control” this situation.

It’s human nature.  We try to get ahead, get organized, have a plan for every possible scenario that could get thrown our way.

I’m gonna tell you a secret.  You can’t control this.  

You can stay on top of things, you can find better ways to manage things and you can develop a plan of attack… 

But you absolutely can’t control the insanity that comes with this disease. 

Don’t try to do everything on your own.

women talking at a table

I know, I know… easier said than done.  

Cancer is a team sport so to speak.  The more support you have, the better this is going to go.  

Support doesn’t necessarily mean jumping into the fire with you.  

Support can be anything, especially the small stuff that makes life easier.  Someone to grab groceries, or cook dinner or sit and talk with you while you fold laundry.  

Driving to the dr, grabbing prescriptions, installing a grab bar, feeding the cat while you’re away for treatment.  

The truth is, people want to help, they just don’t know how.  

And most of the time you don’t know what you need either… (We help you navigate all of that here …)

Let the people who are offering to help you lighten this load.

Take care of your needs too.

Mom talking to her daughter while lying in bed.

I can tell you as a caregiver, the things you need can get pushed to the side if you let them (and even when you don’t).  

YOU HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.  

I get it, it feels impossible to put yourself as a priority when you’re literally helping someone fight for their life.  But there are things you’re going to need to help you get through this…

Escape, breaks, rest, relaxation, dr appointments…  

Incorporating small changes each day that help you take care of yourself is ESSENTIAL. It’s also how to stay mentally strong. (We can help you get started here…)

Plan things.

Happy family eating and spending time together at a backyard dinner party

When we’re talking about how to stay mentally strong, this could be the most important tip.

Humans need things to be excited about.

There is NO point in being alive if you don’t have things to look forward to.   

For example, why do people work?  Nobody shows up for work because they love their job so much that they want to go there every day for free…  

Most people work because it “funds” our lives and our dreams.

We go to work because we earn a paycheck to buy all the things that we need (and hopefully some things we want) and if we’re lucky we earn vacation time so we can visit someplace new or stay home and spend time with family and friends.

We work, so we can enjoy our lives and do the things we want to do.

When cancer explodes into your world. You start to see and appreciate things differently.  Each day is different than the day before and you’re never sure what tomorrow is going to look like.  

So for what may be the first time in your life, you don’t worry about tomorrow and you spend your time living for today.

Making a list of things your loved one has to look forward to and focusing on the people and experiences they really want to do is ESSENTIAL for keeping your loved one’s spirits up.  

It’s so important for how to stay mentally strong and so they can keep fighting for the long haul. (If you need ideas, you can find them here…)

Strive for better, not perfect.

Mom and caregiver daughter eating a snack

This caregiving stuff is hard, it’s going to take some time to figure it out. Strive to be an amazing caregiver, by doing better every day. 

If you’re having trouble managing all of this stuff (we get that!), find strategies that will help you handle the situation (hint: we have those here…

Don’t strive for perfection, you’ll be sorely disappointed.  

Caregiving is messy.  You do the best you can, always push forward with the best of intentions and when you screw it up (and you will) you try to do better tomorrow.

Your mission is to improve the quality of life for your loved one.  That’s huge, I know… 

But if you’re always leading with that mission in mind you’re going to be amazing at this.  

And, if you do it right, you’ll improve your quality of life by default…

Choose your battles. 

Stressed woman with a hand over her face who desperately needs to know how to stay mentally strong.

Life is much easier when you attack problems from a solution standpoint.  

You can bitch and complain all day long about how unfair and exhausting everything is (I get it, I totally need that, too)…

But at the end of the day, nothing gets solved during a bitch fest.

Seek solutions.  Look for things that will help.  Search for ways to make the situation better, easier, or even just bearable.  

Don’t just bitch.  Figure out how to solve the problem, and then do it.

The above being said, choose carefully the problems that you tackle and the solutions that you’re finding.  

You can’t fight every battle that comes flying at you.  And not everything has to be dealt with as soon as it comes up.  

Figure out what problems have to be dealt with immediately, and deal with the rest when you can (or not at all). 

Bad reaction to a treatment?  Figure out a solution as quickly as you can.  

Depending on the reaction, head to the emergency room, or call the dr office for guidance.

The washer is broken?  Call a neighbor or a relative and ask them to do a few loads for you this week.  That’s not a today problem.

Find strength from things you love.

woman snuggling with her puppy.

Kids, family, pets, Hallmark Christmas movies…  whatever keeps you going when everything is falling apart.  That’s what saves your sanity.

 Keep the things that you love close and let them ground you.  

When you get a chance to spend an hour playing with the dog, do it.  Dinner with the husband and kids?  Yes, please.  

I often stayed at my parents’ house while my dad was sick.  My husband would meet me halfway, bring anything I needed and take me to dinner.  This way I could have some time with him, a fresh change of clothes and a BREAK.  It was a win/win/win!

Take full advantage of the things you love even if you can only spend half an hour doing it. They will teach you how to stay mentally strong

After my husband was referred to the oncologist, I made an appointment with my doctor to talk about anxiety medication. That was my breaking point.  That medicine helped me tremendously. 

My husband was diagnosed with Bladder Cancer. His is thankfully non-invasive.  So, he has had several uncomfortable surgeries but considering what this could be, we feel tremendously blessed and lucky.

My husband’s cancer also helped me find another upside to the whole cancer experience.  

I used to practically wet my pants before asking my husband to stop at a rest area on a long trip.  The arguments that resulted from “how much water I drank” were ridiculous.  I don’t have to listen to him complain anymore because now he has to go too.  Usually, before I do.  

Cancer sucks, but if you look closely, you’ll usually find some little gifts scattered among the wreckage. 🙂

P.S.  If you’re drowning in all this cancer business, and you have no idea where to start…  
The Cancer Combat Plan is a step-by-step guide from someone who has struggled through this and found ways to manage the chaos, the stress, and the overwhelm.   
Things feel better and more in control when you have a plan.  So if you’re looking for action steps, resources, and strategies that will help you manage this crisis, we’ve got you covered. And it’s totally FREE… 
You can get the Cancer Combat Plan for free here…

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