Learn how to boost yourself up when you’re feeling down.
Tap Into Your Healing Power
One of the most important components of healing is recognizing the powerful connection between your mind and your body. I know this from what I've seen in my medical practice and in the research. Studies show that stress and negative emotions can cause a physical reaction (ever get a headache when you're arguing with a friend?) that can slow your body's ability to heal. On the flip side, positive thinking and feelings can help you recover, whether it's from a sprained ankle, arthritis or cancer.
But it wasn't only my experience as a doctor that taught me this. I was also a patient. Nine years ago, in my 30s, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I knew that I would need to pay close attention to and care for both my physical and psychological health. Of course, that wasn't always easy to do. There were days when I was incredibly discouraged and spent a lot of time feeling sad and stressed. But on most days, I made an attempt to nurture my mind and body so they could work together to help me heal. Along the way, I found that these six steps helped to lay the groundwork for my recovery. I hope they will help you, too.
Listen to your body.
No one knows your body better than you do. Being in touch with how you feel day in, day out not only enables you to pinpoint what you can do in your daily life to feel even better, but also helps your doctor figure out which treatments are best since you both will be able to track any side effects.
The next time you're on the mend, write down what you're doing every half-hour for two days—whether it's loading the dishwasher, reading a book or walking to your car—and how you're feeling in response. Rate your fatigue level and any physical discomfort on a scale of 0-10. (Zero means you're not feeling any pain or fatigue; 10 means you're debilitated.)
When two days have passed, look over your log. When did you feel the best? The worst? Think about what you can change during the day so you'll feel better.
Keeping this log can also help you realize which habits from your regular routine may not work so well during your recovery period. Before I got sick, I wouldn't make eating breakfast a priority, but when I kept a log during my breast cancer treatment, I saw that I had more energy when I ate within an hour of waking up. If I got busy and started doing chores and answering emails, with only a cup of coffee to keep me going, I was exhausted by midmorning.
Don't worry about worrying.
Having a positive attitude doesn't mean you're never grumpy. Bad moods and stress are a part of everyday life—particularly when you're dealing with a health problem. So don't focus on trying to control your emotions. Instead, tell yourself, It's OK to worry right now, and aim to do one or two activities daily to help yourself relax. Try meditating or reading a book. Or just take 5 minutes to breathe in slowly to a count of five and then exhale slowly to a count of five. The key is to do something that softens your body's response to the stress, which will in turn help you heal.
One of my favorite techniques is called progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and relaxing your muscles one by one. Find a comfortable position, either lying down or sitting. Start at the top of your body and clench your teeth. After counting to 10, relax your jaw, inhale, then exhale and let your face be as peaceful as if you were asleep. Next, tense your shoulders and count to 10, then release. Repeat, moving down your body, with your chest, stomach, thighs, arms, hands, legs and feet. Another effective stress reliever is visualization, which involves concentrating on a specific comforting and/or meaningful scene—for example, walking on the beach with a loved one or hugging a friend.
All experiences of life have a lasting effect upon us. Positive experiences attract positive energy, or in other words light. This energy puts one into a mode of living that produces health, happiness, and success. Negative experiences attract negative energy, or in other words darkness. This energy puts one into a mode of living that produces bad health, depression, self-defeating attitudes, and failure.
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