When cancer explodes into your family, there is a TON of mental stress. 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 unknowns. There are so many factors, involved in a battle like this. Everything is seriously intense.
So you stress about everything. 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.
So what’s the secret to stay mentally strong when you’ve been dropped into the most chaotic situation of your life and you’re barely hanging on…
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.
How to Stay Mentally Strong
Decide that you can do this.
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, a decision like 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.
Accept that you can’t control this.
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 can’t control this.
Don’t try to do everything on your own.
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 sometimes you don’t know what you need either…
Let the people who are offering to help you lighten this load.
Take care of your needs too.
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.
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, let’s talk about work. Few people show up for work because they love it…
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, you don’t worry about tomorrow and you spend your time living 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, so they can keep fighting for the long haul.
Strive for better, not perfect.
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 to better manage the situation
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…
Pick and choose your battles.
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 to help, ways to make the situation better, easier. Don’t just bitch, figure out what will 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.
Determine the problems that 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.
Draw strength from things you love.
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.
How to stay mentally strong is a huge part of being a cancer caregiver. If I missed any quick tips to help you deal with the mental stress, let me know in the comments!
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…
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