Maintaining a Positive Mindset, Even When It’s Hard.
Think back. From the moment of your first biopsy, how many times have you been told to “keep a positive mindset”? About a billion, right?
It’s easy to laugh or swear off that “advice” (literally!). We'll soon be doing a deep dive on positivity pushers -- but we do want to give credit where it's due. There IS actually some scientific substance to back the mind-body connection to a positive mindset. If you’re thinking, “Oh, great! One more important health thing to struggle at keeping up with,” we get it. We’d like to make it easier for you.
So… Welcome to our bite-sized mindset guide for cancer thrivers.
Few things in life can take away your sense of control over your body, your plans, even your own thoughts and feelings… like cancer. Check-ups, scans, biopsies, and the constant waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop feeling that follows a cancer diagnosis take a heavy toll. It’s all too easy to feel helpless. Considering that these things are probably always going to be present in our lives post treatment, giving into that mentality is not an effective long-term gameplan to keep your mind right.
What can you do?
We’d like to invite you to control what you can: your mind(set).
At buddhi, we believe that taking care of your mind is of equal importance to taking care of your body during and after cancer treatment.
“The hormones of stress push the genetic buttons that create disease. If you can turn on the stress response just by thought alone, your thoughts could make you sick. And if your thoughts can make you sick, is it possible that your thoughts can make you well?” -Dr. Joe Dispenza
Mental health is, essentially, the foundation of your existence. Your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs all begin in the brain. From there, they impact your behavior and actions, which in turn affect your physical health. Despite the obvious importance, gaining any level of control over your thoughts in times of trauma can require some Jedi-level mind jiu-jitsu.
Here’s how you can maintain a positive mindset in cancer treatment and recovery, even when it’s hard:
Train your brain.
We train our physical bodies with exercise. We train our mental bodies through mindfulness, meditation and manifestation techniques. Thinking positively doesn’t always come naturally after a cancer diagnosis, though. That’s OK. Anything worth doing takes practice. Believe it or not, there are even coaches for this – use promo code "BUDDHI" for a discount from our bud, Corene!
Mindfulness, meditation, and manifestation practices go beyond mental health. They actually create visible changes in your brain structure. As a result, the new neural pathways that working on your mindset creates can improve your overall well-being.
“Common side effects of daily meditation are increased energy and feelings of contentedness and inner happiness.” -Light Watkins
Once you’re able to step away from the belief that the worst outcome is inevitable, you can create an environment within your own body that’s more conducive to healing.
“I asked, how could I create a healing environment in my body and my mind that would support the modern medicine that I was receiving and just amplify it and make it more effective?” -Brooke Long, cancer thriver.
Conscious breathing techniques like the ones you’ll find in the Headspace app are perfect to get you started. You can also listen to free guided meditations and discover what your body is telling you through body scanning on Insight Timer.
Finally, you can try speaking health and happiness into your life through the use of positive affirmations. Affirmations are short pieces of positive self-talk that can transform your mindset over time by replacing limiting beliefs. Try telling yourself, “I am in charge of my cancer,” or, “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better,” whenever negative thoughts about your cancer creep in. You may feel silly at first, but fake it until you make it. We promise it will help once you find the right fit.
Set healthy boundaries.
When you do find your peace – protect it. Fiercely.
Set boundaries with yourself. Avoid those excessive, scary Googling sessions that keep you up all night afraid and alone. It’s great to be well-educated. It’s not great to read every ounce of reputable cancer research, and then move on to sourceless Youtube Channels run by conspiracy theorists and quacks out of desperation. We’ve been there, and 0/10 do NOT recommend it.
Set boundaries with others, too. Put your own oxygen mask on first, so to speak. We know that your friends, family, coworkers and neighbors ALL want to know the results of every test your doctors run (and even the ones they don’t run). Your phone will seem to vibrate right off the table the second those samples are sent to the lab. You care about these people, and of course you want to comfort them. Just remember that they care about you and your mental health, too. Whether the results are good or bad- they’ll be just fine waiting. Give yourself time as needed to process new information about your diagnosis alone before passing it along to others.