“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.”
~ Helen Keller
It’s easy to be overcome by darkness even in the best of times. Before my cancer crisis, I would allow myself to get in such a funk over, looking back, about absolutely nothing. So my friend didn’t call me back? The grocery store ran out of my favorite seed bread. My cousin borrowed my car and left it in my driveway with no gas/petrol in the tank. Who cares?!!
Once you look death in the face you realize these small annoyances are so not worth getting worked up over.
As easy as it is to give into darkness during good times, it’s even easier during a health scare. When you are fighting for your health and even life, you feel so tired and overwhelmed, and like you can barely keep it together to organize your doctors’ appointments and not throw up in public. It’s hard to stay positive when dealing with uncertainty, a lack of control, and the reality that life is finite.
But it’s incredibly important that you don’t give into the dark. In my last few blog posts I have given numerous examples and scientific proof that confirms what I have known for over three decades: The state of our mind is directly linked to the state of our health. Now more than ever you need to find ways to embrace the light and shun the dark so your body can heal and you can get your life back.
Here are 5 ways you can stay positive even in the face of fear and uncertainty.
1. Be Honest with Yourself
If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust? It won’t do you any good to deny or hide your feelings. When you are having a down day and feeling scared, angry or just off in a really big way, don’t scold yourself for it. Allow yourself a set period of time on these days to feel those feelings before you release and replace them with something better.
You can literally set a timer for 15 minutes and during that time, feel free to roll around in your negative emotions all you want. Feel them deeply. Cry. Hit your pillow, Throw something. Yell. Have a 15-minute pity party. But when that timer goes off, your time to feel the darkness is up, and it is now time to dry your tears, smooth your bedsheets, apologize to the neighbors, and switch mental gears. Take a deep breath and now feel something awesome. Imagine yourself well. Imagine running on the beach with your partner. Imagine a beautiful sunset, a puppy, your 13th birthday party when you were allowed to get your ears pierced. It doesn’t matter what you imagine – the point is to release the darkness and replace it with light.
2. Pamper Yourself
It’s not every day you’re diagnosed with cancer or some other awful disease/condition. During your recovery period, feel free to pamper yourself as often as you want, provided that pampering is healthy.
For instance, eating a few donuts or a huge apple pie is unhealthy and won’t help your body heal. But getting a massage or a Reiki treatment is a great way to pamper yourself, and aid the body in healing. Being sick is hard so be extra kind to yourself and practice self-care often.
3. Move Your Body
The last thing you may want to do is exercise, but moving your body releases feel-good chemicals in your brain. Even just a brisk walk around your neighborhood or a few jumps on rebounded can make you feel calm, relaxed, and happy! Just be sure you have your doctor’s blessing to exercise and if he or she says go for it, then GO for it.
The added bonus of exercising while dealing with cancer and other diseases is that you will see yourself as well and strong. When you feel strong you act strong and when you act strong you become strong. There’s that mind-body connection again!
4. Stay Present
When dealing with a serious illness, so much of our fear stems from living in the past and future. We hate that we don’t look, feel or act like we used to, and we are scared of what we will become.
Living in the present moment is so so so important when we are dealing with a health crisis. We must train our minds to stay in the now instead of wandering to the past or present and feeling those negative emotions.
Spend a few moments each day meditating. Don’t worry, meditation isn’t as hard as some people make it out to be. The idea is to do something that quiets that monkey mind chatter we all have going on most of the time.
Some people focus on their breath, some people repeat a mantra, some people focus visually on a mandala, and some people simply listen mindfully to the sounds in the room and outside. Any of these exercises will help occupy your brain just enough that it finally quiets.
Try meditating just 3 minutes a day, that’s all. After a week or two, move up to 6 minutes then 9 minutes then 12 and so on. The more you practice, the easier it will become and the more of a habit it will be to LIVE in the present and savor it.
5. Surround Yourself with the Right People
Hopefully you have some people in your life that don’t walk on eggshells around you. To feel positive, you need to feel NORMAL. Many of your loved ones don’t know how to help you right now. They mean well, but they can often make things worse by constantly reminding you in one way or another that you’re not well.
Try and spend more time with those people who make you feel like yourself. Who make you pay for lunch once in a while. Who tell you your hair looks like shit when it does. Who don’t treat you as if you’re fragile. Being around this energy will help you feel like YOU.
I have been where you are right now. I know how easy it is to want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head, cry, and let yourself spiral down into an impenetrable darkness. But that won’t help you heal. You have the power to get well. I hope if you’ve read this month’s posts (if not go back and read them all!) and you truly understand and believe that what you think and feel has everything to do with your physical health. Stay strong. Stay positive. And get ready for miracles to happen.