4 Key Steps to Mental Health During Coronavirus (Cancer or not)

Apr 07, 2020

When it comes to care and coronavirus, we also need to prioritize mental health. Everyone has been talking about physical hygiene such as sanitizing our homes or washing our hands, but what about our mental hygiene?

Coping with the unexpected stresses of a coronavirus outbreak can be overwhelming. It’s especially difficult for cancer patients and cancer survivors who already have compromised immune systems. 

Today I’m sharing four key steps you can take to improve your mental health and cope with anxiety.

During this challenging time, it is important that we take extra care of our mental health in addition to our physical health. Here are the key core elements of mental hygiene: 

Step 1: High-five your breathing

For this exercise, inhale for five seconds and hold for five seconds. Then exhale for five seconds and hold for five seconds. Repeat this cycle five times. Anytime. Anywhere.

This exercise brings you to the present moment and calms your nervous system down. By bringing yourself into the present moment, you will find that you are able to think more clearly about any decisions or challenges you are facing.

Step 2: Choose your thoughts

Taking control over your thought patterns is a great way to manage anxiety.

When you find yourself feeling anxious or upset, be aware of what kinds of thoughts are going through your head. When you recognize the thoughts triggering these worries, you can start replacing them with better thoughts.

Selecting better thoughts can be challenging. It also takes time and practice. But it is one of the most helpful tools you can use to manage your stress and anxiety.

Step 3: Plan + set clear boundaries

Being at home with all of your family members can be exhausting.

You might be juggling your and your spouse’s work schedule, kid’s schoolwork, meal planning, extracurricular activities, and house chores. Doing all of this while everyone is at home is demanding! 

The best way to deal with the challenges of household management and work is by planning, and then setting firm boundaries. It’s important that you communicate these plans clearly with family members as well as your expectations of each other. Every now and then, you and family members may deviate from the plans or take time out. 

But for the most part you want to “plan the work and work the plan.”  

Step 4: Prioritize your exercise

Exercise is a scientifically-proven mood booster that decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety. Just because you are housebound doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be getting exercise. 

You can adapt your exercise routine depending on your energy levels. For instance, if you are unwell, you might choose to do some simple stretches from bed to get your blood flowing. Or you can do a few jumping jacks. If you are up for it, you can do an online yoga class or another workout of your choice.

These four core steps are a great way to take charge of your mental health during these trying times. 

If you wish to do more or take superb care of yourself and loved ones, here are some additional, helpful resources:

In my last two blogs, I spoke about how you can protect yourself from the virus. This includes 12 tips for protecting your immunity at home and 12 ways you can boost your immune system

A concern that you might be having is whether or not you should be undergoing chemotherapy or any other upcoming treatments and surgeries.

It is completely reasonable to be anxious about upcoming hospital visits or your vulnerability to the virus. In the recent COVID-19 and Cancer Q&A podcast episode, I spoke to Dr. Julia Spinolo, about these concerns and how you can plan for treatments during coronavirus.

As Dr. Julia Spinolo reminds us, it’s important to remember to go by the facts and take it day by day. 

Don’t let the fear get to you. And when things start to feel overwhelming, remember to breathe and remind yourself to simply take it one day at a time.

Stay safe and stay strong.

Are you looking to use your cancer (or the coronavirus outbreak) as a catalyst for a powerful change in your life? That’s exactly what my work with Truth & Dare Cancer is all about. If you need help getting started, book a free consultation call, and together we’ll explore how you can take that first step.



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