Strength is defined in the Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary as “the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way.”
As a leading cancer survivorship coaching expert and co-creator of Well Beyond This, a virtual coaching based app that helps survivors overcome stress so they can improve their quality of life, I often marvel at the strength I see in those I coach. I also see it is quite common for survivors and their caregivers to see it in themselves.
When my late husband was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease at 34 years of age, we realized there were two ways we could approach it. We could either allow the situation to dictate our quality of life and the experience we were having or we could choose to take the lead and not let cancer define us.
We had always been active participants in our lives making choices, often-difficult ones that led to us living a true Hollywood fairytale love story, so we thought dealing with cancer would be no different. But taking the lead in the dance with cancer requires incredible strength. It wasn’t always easy to feel strong when we were exhausted, fearful, or grieving the loss of pieces of our former life before cancer. Here are 3 tips for finding your strength on days when you most need it so you can be resilient, a strong self-advocate, and self-manage your wellbeing and your life.
Tip #1 – Don’t try to do cancer alone
We are stronger together. I believe that no great achievements, experiences, or outcomes are achieved in life by one person on their own. We are social beings and we need our tribe of people. What will give us strength from connecting with others is being mindful of those with similar values who understand how to listen and support rather then criticize or judge. Sometimes, this may mean creating a new circle of support. Often survivors find joining online communities or attending survivorship events helps them connect with like-minded people.
Tip #2 – Self-care comes first
It can feel selfish to practice self-care but it really is a critical key to being able to tap your inner strength. When you are exhausted, stressed, or in pain you reduce your ability to be resilient and strong. Emotions are more easily triggered, often over seemingly small things. This can negatively impact your relationships or take you into a place of despair or hopelessness. When you practice self-care, you have more energy and focus for everyone around you and for your life.
Tip #3 – Practice peace
Cancer is stressful. It is difficult to be strong when you’re overwhelmed and completely stressed out. It also significantly impacts your physical and emotional well-being. To continue to develop your inner strength, find ways throughout your day to practice peace. You can use guided visualizations, take a walk in nature, hold a sleeping baby, listen to some inspiring music, visit a local art gallery or a nearby body of water – whatever it is that helps you press pause, breathe more slowly and connect more with yourself in a peaceful way.