During the Month of November, We Celebrate Thanksgiving.
Every year we take time to reflect on things that we are thankful for. Year after year I always say I am thankful for my family and friends. This year is no different, but I am also very thankful for my health. I am thankful for my physical and mental health. I know the importance of both good physical and mental health, but I also know that it can take work and for most of us it does not come easy. Last month I talked a little about physical activity for good physical health. This month I would like to focus more on mental health.
While we may not think about mental health as being as important as physical health it can be just as important and sometimes even more important. Our attitudes and mental well-being can make or break every day and every interaction with others. So how can you help keep your mental health in top shape?
Here are Some Tips:
- Let yourself feel- It is important that we allow ourselves to recognize our emotions and not fight them or try to always suppress them. When we allow ourselves to live in the moment, we are being real. Suppressing emotions can lead to explosions of feelings at the wrong times leading to increased distress.
- Talk to someone (family, friends, professional- counseling)- Tell others how you are feeling. This helps process your feelings and helps from suppressing those feelings. Talk to someone that you trust and feel comfortable with. Family and friends are a great place to start. But sometimes a professional counselor is really needed for in depth processing.
- Journaling- Writing things down is another way to process your emotions. Some people find this a safer or better option for them.
- Recognize fear triggers- Realize what situations, people, or things trigger your fear. Then plan coping strategies to deal with these triggers when they occur.
- Accept and let go of what you cannot change- At the end of the day the only person you can control is you. Remember that worrying and obsessive thoughts do not put you in control.
- Relaxation/meditation techniques- There are many relaxation and meditation techniques available. Find something that works for you. There are Apps, such as the Calm App. Some people enjoy reading, some use music, some use Spirituality or praying.
- Breathe- Breathing techniques are a good way to help control worrying. I find it helpful to practice breathing techniques when you are not stressed so that when you find yourself in a stressful situation you will be able to easily use your breathing techniques that you have learned.
- Support groups- Find a support group in the community. Finding and connecting with others who are going through similar situations can help you feel more connected. Often you will learn things that worked for others that you can use.
- Exercise- As we talked about last month exercise is not only good for our physical health but can also help with our mental health. It stimulates endorphin production to make you feel better.
- Medication (antidepressants)- Sometimes the above tips are not enough to treat ones’ distress. There are prescription medications that can help. Please reach out to your healthcare team for further help and consideration of medication treatments.
The Nassif Community Cancer Center is here to help with your cancer related mental health concerns. We have two licensed social workers that are available to talk with and help with resources in the community and to help coordinate counseling services.
We do offer mediation classes monthly and exercise classes regularly. We have our Cancer Connections program that matches patients with others who have been through similar situations. We have an exercise specialist for one-on-one exercise and dietitians available to help with any diet concerns. The Cancer Center also offers reduced-cost massage, Healing Energy therapy, and acupuncture.
If you would like to schedule an appointment for any of these services or would like further information, please call 319-558-4876. You can also get more information by visiting our website at www.communitycancercenter.org