Going through cancer or another life challenge can sometimes feel like you’re being dragged down. But you’re not! Focusing on positivity and possibilities can help you more easily embrace the days. I wanted to share some tips for staying positive during life’s challenges, whether an illness, pandemic, unemployment, relationship breakup or some other challenge.
Truth be told, this is a flashback to last spring when I was going through chemo for my third cancer and was forced to practice social distancing due to concerns of being immune-compromised. Back then I told myself to stay focused on making it through treatment and next year would be an awesome year full of fun and adventures.
And here I am again, social distancing. It’s admittedly been a little emotional for me. Negative news everywhere we turn. Plans canceled every week. People not paying attention to social distancing, thus it being extended. Feelings of isolation and boredom often arise. Living alone can make it harder. Ugh. However, I’m using this time to focus on me, some goals and creativity. I’m also focusing on positivity lessons learned over the past 20+ years as a cancer survivor. Maybe these can help you too.
Tips for staying positive during life’s challenges
Acknowledge and be grateful for the positive in your life.
Clearing cancer three times has made me appreciate simple things more than usual – sunshine, laughter, hugs, deep breaths, bike rides, bright flowers and so much more. But even I sometimes get wrapped up in the chaos of the world, sadness, overthinking what I can’t control. So I like to remind myself of the positive in my life. During chemo last year, I kept a journal on my nightstand and each night before bed, I wrote five things I was grateful for that day. I noticed that I slept better too! I started doing that again a few weeks and it helps me acknowledge the good.
Acknowledge what is yours and what belongs to someone else.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in other people’s emotions. Have you ever gotten really worked up over an issue after talking to someone, then later thought ‘why did I get so upset?’ Yeah, me too. Take a few deep breaths and acknowledge if you’re truly upset or if you’re feeling someone else’s sadness, guilt, irritation, whatever. If it is yours, then acknowledge where it’s coming from and focus on possibilities and positive outcomes.
Practice self care.
Make time for your needs and desires. When I was diagnosed last year with breast cancer, my surgeon made a great point of reminding me to focus on my health (physical, mental, emotional) and needs first. It’s a great observation about you do you (check out my tips) – You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.
Talk to an expert.
While family and friends usually mean well with their advice and opinions, an objective perspective can be so helpful. I’ve seen a counselor off and on through cancer, my dad’s death, my divorce and other personally challenging times. Many counselors now offer virtual visits. While I prefer in person visits, these are great alternatives when you can’t leave home. If you’re not into one on one, consider a support group. There are many great options focused on particular topics, cancer types, and more. Online support groups are available. Most importantly, know there are many support options available if you need/want someone to talk to.
Social distancing, whether from cancer or a pandemic, won’t last forever. So what will you do when this passes? Chilling out at home offers a great opportunity to plan for the future. Want to take a trip? Make a change in your professional life? Make a purchase like a house, car, bike or something else? Research, plan, dream.
If you read my blog posts (thank you!), I talk a lot about exercise and being active, even (or especially!) during cancer and other challenges. I really believe in the overall benefits because I experience the physical, mental and emotional support from being active. I recently shared some ways to be active when social distancing.
Check in with others, whether you live alone or not.
Reaching out to others can help distract you from cancer or other life challenges. Focus on the good happening rather than dwelling on the bad. During cancer treatment last year, my best days were the times I talked about everyday life and did ‘normal’ activities. During this cornavirus social distancing, I’m so grateful for the family and friends contacting me daily, whether via text or calls (I don’t think I’ve talked on the phone this much in years!).
Spread kindness and positivity.
I’m an eternal optimist and try to focus on what else is possible rather than problems. I love the new project that Livestrong kicked off this week to share positivity during this tough time – click here to check out their fun video about living strong, it happens to include yours truly. You can participate too! Record a short video showing how you’re living strong, post to a social media channel, tag Livestrong and use the hashtag #livingstrong. It’s a fun way to spread joy!
Do you have tips for staying positive during life’s challenges? Share in the comments so we can spread kindness and help each other!