Sleep Hygiene

Have you ever heard the term, “sleep hygiene?” Just as oral hygiene is the way you care for your mouth and teeth, sleep hygiene is the collection of practices and habits dealing with your sleeping life. They are extremely important, since approximately one-third of your life is spent, asleep. Some people sleep a bit more, and others, less. The key is to feel rested when you wake up. If you don’t, it’s likely that you have poor sleep hygiene. Many wearable activity trackers, such as certain models of the Fitbit, are able to track your sleep and give you a good idea of how much you sleep and what the quality of that sleep is. Temperature. Like Goldilocks, you don’t want to too hot or Read more…

Respite Care

Caregiving is too big for one person to do alone. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what most caregivers try to do, at first. This is especially a problem when you are caring for a spouse with cancer or other chronic illness. In the past, it might have always been the two of you working as a team. You probably think that’s how this is going to work, as well. But, cancer is just too big for one caregiver to handle alone. Respite care can be the perfect weapon your battle with burnout. It really can feel lonely The patient may come home from treatment and go to bed for 8 hours. During that time, you are left to take care of the things you normally do as Read more…

Quit a bad habit

While most people know that smoking, excessive drinking, and illicit drug pose a definite health risk, they are often unaware of the effect that a bad habit can have on their mental well-being. Kick the smoking habit in the ash Each of these activities begins as a way of altering your physical response to stress. For example, in the beginning, nicotine actually reduces stress, feelings of anger, muscle tension, and appetite. The effect is only temporary, though. The more you smoke, the more the nicotine changes your brain. Eventually (often quickly), smoking becomes a habit. As the nicotine in your system is depleted, you experience withdrawal symptoms, reinforcing the habit. These withdrawal symptoms will leave a smoker feeling anxious and stressed. Think before you drink Read more…

Having Pets

I grew up always having pets: Cats, dogs, horses, iguanas and other lizards, even a tarantula that survived over 12 years. My kids, on the other hand, haven’t had the luxury of living in a menagerie of cuddly critters. My two youngest are extremely allergic to nearly anything with fur.  Too much time with the wrong animal and they can wind up in the hospital—it’s happened. Fortunately, we’ve found an animal that no one is allergic to and we all love—gerbils! I was opposed to getting them in the beginning. Now, I’m their #1 fan. There’s good science to back up the benefits of having pets around. Having Pets can help the Elderly We have a neighbor who recently turned 92. She still walks her Read more…

Internet Research

In the past, patients were often told to avoid doing their own internet research. That was because the internet really is a dumping ground for both information and misinformation. More and more, doctors are appreciating their patients’ efforts to participate in their healthcare. This is especially true when the patient uses internet research wisely. Benefits of doing your own research: You can decide if what is happening merits a trip to the doctor. Often you can be put at ease when you discover your symptoms might feel awful, but you most likely have a cold. Sometimes, odd, but otherwise painless symptoms mean something more ominous is happening. For example, when my husband felt 3 hardened lymph nodes above his left collarbone (supraclavicular nodes), that specific Read more…

One Thing a Day

Perhaps the number one way I have learned to avoid burnout is by limiting my goals to one thing a day. Of course, I do more than one thing a day, but nothing overwhelming. The Spoon Theory Most people have heard of the Spoon Theory, Christine Miserandino wrote about in her 2003 essay. While it doesn’t fit everyone’s specific situation, it is a great way to visualize what it’s like to live with a chronic health condition. I first learned of this theory when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and then, fibromyalgia. Then, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. It was difficult for him to learn how to cope with his declining energy and health. At the end of each day, he would say Read more…

Ways you can help a caregiver

During the month of April, I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Here at Facing Cancer with Grace, I concentrated on writing posts for caregivers, There are many ways you can help a caregiver. Raising awareness of what day to day life is like as a caregiver is how I help. At Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I wrote a retrospective post about what it was like writing 55 posts, posting them all in April, and then reading and commenting on the blogs of other participants. Check it out! In this post, I share some of the many ways you can help a caregiver. By choosing a couple of these suggestions you can help a caregiver greatly reduce their stress, and cope with their role Read more…

saying No

One of the most important things you can do to prevent burnout is to say, “No.” Yet, it isn’t always easy. Let’s look at why saying no can be tough, at times. We aren’t used to saying no Most people don’t ease into a cancer diagnosis as you do with exercise. Instead, life is just as normal as can be. You have your routine. Everyone in the family participates in various activities throughout the week and suddenly the rhythm of your life is brought to a screeching halt. On October 24th, 2012, my husband went into the doctor. After feeling the enlarged lymph nodes along Dan’s collar bone, the doctor asked if we had a few hours for him to run some tests. We cleared Read more…

Scanxiety

There’s a word that’s unique to the cancer experience. Scanxiety. Most people are familiar with anxiety. There are many types of anxiety, including (but not limited to): generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, phobias, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome). Scanxiety is a form of situational anxiety or acute stress reaction disorder. Because of the nature of cancer, patients are already experiencing chronic stress, or the stress of demands that seem endless, with little hope in sight for long stretches of time. When you add an additional stressor to this, it can feel overwhelming, leading to physical symptoms of stress and anxiety for the patient, and his or her family members. The first time you experience scanxiety is when you suspect you have cancer and are in Read more…

Grieving During the Holidays

While the holidays are meant to be a time of joy and family gatherings, when you are faced with cancer, there is a real mixture of emotions that come at this time of year. That’s because whether you or a loved one currently has cancer, or you’ve lost someone close to the disease you will feel the full effects of grieving during the holidays. Our Story We discovered my husband’s stage IV lung cancer at the end of October, just a couple of days before our 3rd wedding anniversary, a couple of weeks before his 52nd birthday, 3 weeks before Thanksgiving, 2 months before Christmas, and then 2013, the year he would statistically die.  In 2 months’ time, we trudged through all of these days Read more…

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