When dealing with a cancer diagnosis, the celebration of a new year may feel a bit bittersweet. Your health concerns have taken precedence over many areas of your life and you may feel a bit apprehensive about the New Year. Many of your friends and family will make resolutions to get healthy or lose weight. There’s no reason you can’t make some health-related resolutions of your own – even while going through cancer treatment. Here are some healthy ideas that you might not have thought of that help improve your overall health and well-being.
Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a common buzzword floating around many online sites these days. What is mindfulness, and what does it do? By the textbook definition, mindfulness sounds a great deal like meditation, a technique used for centuries to clear the mind, de-stress the body and improve focus and concentration. But mindfulness takes meditation a step further and asks the practitioner to incorporate mindfulness throughout the day, rather than mediate for a few moments at the beginning or ending of each day. Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present, where you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance – without judging them good or bad. Anyone can practice mindfulness. It takes no special equipment, training or locations. All it takes is a willingness to learn and turn inward to acknowledge feelings and the present day. Many websites feature detailed ideas on how to get started, or ask a healthcare practitioner for direction. By practicing this technique, it allows the mind to better cope with the day-to-day stresses, anxiety and negativity that creeps into the day.
Stay hydrated. Drink a full 8-ounce (or larger) glass of water each time medication is taken. If you have to take pills in the morning, at lunch, at dinner and at bedtime, that’s 32 ounces of water each day. If larger volumes of water seem difficult, try keeping bottled water handy at several locations throughout the house, and try to sip from them whenever you can. Incorporate high water-content foods into your diet. Foods like cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, green peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, watermelon, spinach, cantaloupe and strawberries are not only good for you – but are also more than 90% water. Try alternative sources of fluids like popsicles, milkshakes, sports drinks or smoothies. Increase the amount of fluid you take in if you’re outside in hot weather or exercising. If you’re sweating, you’re reducing the amount of water in your body, so it needs to be replenished.
Exercise your mind. Maintaining good health not only includes diet and exercise and our physical presence, but also good mental health and memory strength as well. Without stimulation, the brain is just like our muscles, it loses strength and ability if it is not challenged on a regular basis. However, research has shown that the brain needs to be challenged, not just stimulated, in order to retain memory and clarity over time. Crossword puzzles, for example, may be your go-to brain exercise, but if you breeze right through them, it may be time for something that challenges your brain in a different way, like painting or Sudoku.
See the world. With the holidays soon over many are thinking ahead to vacation travel to beaches, or the mountains, or destinations beyond with family and friends. If you’re undergoing cancer treatment, it’s no different; you need time to recharge from the day-to-day stresses of life, and especially your medical condition. When undergoing cancer treatment, there are a few extra precautions and considerations for the traveler, but that shouldn’t stop you from traveling or enjoying a vacation away from home. Careful planning can ensure you have a great – yet safe – experience.
Get some sun – safely. After being cooped up during the winter, many are looking forward to spending more time outdoors exercising or taking care of upcoming spring yard work. Whether spending the day outside, or just taking care of a few chores, it’s important to always protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. Depending on your skin tone, even just a few minutes can cause damage to your skin.
Incorporate superfoods. While no single food will protect you from disease, there are many foods that have disease-fighting properties that can be grown easily in your home garden. Some foods actually increase your risk of cancer, but some, such as cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale; Lycopene rich foods such as tomatoes and tomato based products and leafy, green vegetables such as spinach, kale, collards and chard, all support a healthy body and strengthen your immune system.