We live in a world where change is constant and often unpredictable. Staying calm is challenging as the events of our lives unfold, but it also is the key to successfully weathering life’s storms. With calmness we are able to think more clearly, call on inner strength (for me this is my Higher Power), and develop resilience. Where others see despair we see creative possibilities that turn obstacles into opportunities for meaning and growth. It’s living from the inside out so our perspective reflects our inner wisdom, even when well-meaning people do or say things that touch tender places within us.
Recently I read an article by Helen H. Cohen, who is a certified life coach and stage 3 colon cancer survivor. She is celebrating her 7th year of being cancer free, but clearly remembers what it felt like to be given a cancer diagnosis and following treatment. She admits to being so scared that it was extremely difficult for her to stay calm. But she also knew that the only way to weather the storm of cancer was with the clarity calmness would bring. As she thought about her experience, she identified 6 tips that promoted calmness for her. This is a summary of her suggestions:
- AFFIRM YOUR GOALS EVERY DAY – Write 2-3 immediate goals. Cancer forces us all to look more seriously at life and clarify priorities. A goal could be what we desire while going through cancer treatment. Or we could dare to jot down what we hope or dream about for life after cancer, because we are not defined by our diagnosis.
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP – Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Clearly stating what we need empowers our caregivers, and being a gracious receiver has a calming effect on everyone.
- SEARCH FOR GRACE IN YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE – Helen defines grace as getting in touch with our Higher Power. Awareness of a Higher Power (or whatever term works best for you) gives us a constant resource for comfort, guidance, and calmness.
- STAY OPEN-MINDED: DON’T ASSUME THE WORST – Leaping to a worst-case scenario shuts the door to hope. Staying open to each phase of the cancer experience allows us to clearly see what we are learning from chemo, hair loss, raw skin, med side effects, or time off work. If we are willing to look, we will see how beautifully our needs are met every day.
- HELP YOURSELF BY HELPING OTHERS – When we pass on everything we have learned we lighten someone else’s journey through cancer. Share the ointment you used when your skin was raw, share a helpful book, share how you helped rid yourself of the metallic taste left from chemo. This is empowering and gives a difficult cancer experience a helpful purpose.
- TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF – Remember other hard times we’ve experienced and what we did then to help ourselves. Set time aside to do things that bring peace and promote calmness,like yoga, meditation, painting, music, journaling, hot bubble baths, or inspirational reading. Add your favorites to the list and enjoy whatever your body permits.
To this list I would add a daily dose of laughter, plenty of sleep, and time with people who have been through similar experiences. This is what Friends After Diagnosis offers – a safe place to share experiences, support, encouragement, hugs, and laughter. With these few tools we can stay calm when the river rises.
Until Next Time – Sylvia