Cancer & Mental Health
You just got the news that your close friend or family member has cancer. You want to be there for them, but you’re not sure how. Supporting others and their mental health during this difficult time can be hard.
First, always ask permission. Receiving a cancer diagnosis can cause dramatic changes in anyone’s life. Remember that this is happening to them, not you. Ensure that they know it is okay if they don’t want you around or don’t want to hear advice, but if they do, let them know you’re at the ready.
Don’t stop making plans. A diagnosis is not the end of the world. In fact, making plans with someone who has cancer can give them something to look forward to.
Be considerate. Recognize that they may need flexibility when making plans. Don’t be afraid to share a funny story or laugh with your friend or family member, but understand that they need room to be sad, too. Don’t completely ignore uncomfortable topics. Address them, as far as the person is willing to talk about those topics and be present with them.
Follow through is also important. If someone has accepted your offer of help, then be sure to follow through. Stability and knowing someone is there for them could be something they need. Remember that they are still your friend or family member, and you don’t have to treat them like someone else.
What not to say:
- “I know how you feel.” Odds are you do not know what they’re experiencing.
- “I know what you should do.” If you’ve never had cancer and are not a doctor, then you probably don’t know. Even if you are a cancer survivor, keep in mind that everyone deals with traumatic events differently and what worked for you might not work for someone else.
- “I’m sure you’ll be fine.” Cancer in today’s world can be very treatable, but doctors also don’t know everything about it. Assuring someone they will be fine does not mean they will be and can only add to the pressure and stress they already feel.
Trouble sleeping tight? Everyone has trouble getting to sleep now and again.
Sometimes, however, that inability persists beyond a night or two. At that point, the difficulty might be a sleep condition called insomnia, which is estimated to affect one-third to one-half of the population. Short-term insomnia generally lasts for a few days or weeks and is most often caused by stress or changes in one’s routine. If the insomnia persists more than a month, it becomes long-term or chronic. Insomnia includes symptoms like difficulty falling or staying asleep, exhaustion during the day, difficulty paying attention, and irritability.
There are multiple potential causes of insomnia:
- Changes in a travel or work schedule
- Poor sleep habits (e.g., irregular sleep schedule, using electronic devices before bed)
- Mental health disorders such as anxiety
- Hormone changes (e.g., menopause)
- Other medical conditions
Since there are many different factors that can cause insomnia, it’s best to talk with a doctor to figure out how you can help mitigate yours. These tactics may be as simple as limiting caffeine and alcohol or doing meditation and therapy to help reduce your stress levels, or setting a very consistent sleep schedule. If preliminary exams or tests don’t turn up anything, a doctor may recommend you do a sleep study, which will monitor what your body does while you sleep.
There are also multiple over-the-counter and prescription drugs that can help you sleep, including melatonin and Benadryl. If you’re having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor before trying these, as some of them are only meant to be used short-term. Insomnia can be frustrating and exhausting, but it does not have to be permanent.
Winter Wonderland Hygge
You’ve probably heard of hygge—a Danish word for contentment and well-being from enjoying life’s simple things—but have you ever practiced it?
The art of living a cozy and happy life is a life choice you can make every day no matter where you are. And winter is the perfect time of the year to start. All you need to do is create an atmosphere that is comfortable and relaxing, something that is surprisingly simple to do.
Hygge is all about comfort and relaxing. So, grab your warmest blanket, light a fire, and enjoy the winter in comfort, hygge style.
Your health and wellbeing matter to us. Your career matters to us. You matter to us.
If you would like additional information on emotional and mental health, you can confidentially contact me at the information below.