"Mindfulness" is about being in the present. When it comes to facing a cancer journey, being mindful of your body, your time and your emotions can be especially helpful in ensuring you are keeping yourself as healthy as possible before, during and after treatment.
After being diagnosed with cancer, it is normal to start thinking through any and every possible scenario that could happen throughout your cancer journey. It is important to take an active role in determining and understanding your treatment plan and expectations and then to take each day at a time.
Many people practice mindfulness by engaging in a type of guided meditation, focusing on nothing but themselves and their breathing. Through these practices, you can focus on being in the moment, not thinking about the distant past, or future rather, listening to your breath and clear your mind and your thoughts.
“Mindfulness can help manage anxiety and other negative emotions“, says Katie Narvarte, LMSW, OSW-C, OPN-CG, Survivorship Navigator and Psychosocial Coordinator at Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Medical City Healthcare. “By taking time to stop and breathe, you can regulate your nervous system and train your body and mind to react differently to overwhelming thoughts. I try to encourage all of my patients to put their worries down, even if it's only for a minute”.
Mindfulness can be practiced at any point during the cancer journey, from the time of diagnosis all the way through survivorship. Mindfulness can also be used in everyday life, whether you are sick or healthy. When it comes to cancer patients or survivors, mindfulness may also include attending your follow-up appointments, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, being happy or spending time with loved ones.
“Mindfulness is all about not being overwhelmed with the thoughts of, what if”, says Katie.