Having cancer is like a full-time job.
And then we also have other commitments: our families, our friends, keeping our households running, and maybe (just maybe) still working part- or full-time.
The stress of it all can be crazy-making. (Plus … the holidays are coming up!)
Since stress weakens the immune system and exacerbates illness, we’re going to use a tool from Martha Beck called the 3 B’s to eliminate all the stress we can.
Write down a list of all your commitments for the next week.
This includes events on your calendar - doctor’s appointments, treatments, a lunch date with a friend, book club, your daughter’s soccer game. It also includes tasks that you perform every week - laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, exercising.
In other words, write down everything you expect yourself to do in the next week. (Include things that you’ll feel guilty about not getting done, like cleaning out the hall closet and getting an oil change.)
Then, highlight all the things you don’t want to do.
Now, use the 3 B’s on those commitments.
Let’s dive in.
1. Bag It. Take a look at your list, and let go of absolutely everything that you can release. If you don’t love it and it isn’t essential to your daily experience of life, let. it. go! If you need to get out of a particular commitment, you happen to have a trump card: you have cancer. You are not superwoman. Send an email or a text or have a quick conversation: “Hi, I can no longer commit to X. I’m putting all my energy toward my physical healing. Thanks so much for understanding.”
2. Barter It. Look at what’s left. Of the things that absolutely must be done, what could be done by someone else? (Hint: almost everything can be done by someone else, except the things you really want to do and appointments related to your cancer.) Here are just a few ideas:
3. Better It. For things that you have to do - like doctor’s appointments and chemo treatments - ask yourself how you can make them better. Let’s say you have a treatment on Tuesday that you’re dreading. You hate sitting there for hours; you hate that you’ll feel absolutely horrible on Thursday. Pull out all the stops for the actual treatment: ask your funniest friend to go with you; download your favorite Netflix show; wear your comfiest sweats; bring a thermos of your favorite tea; listen to music that you love. Then, plan something indulgent and lovely for Friday or Saturday, when you’re feeling a little better, that you can look forward to. Above all, be kind to yourself.
PRO TIP: The holidays are coming up, and the 3 B’s tool is perfect for holiday commitments and planning..
So if you typically host a big sit-down dinner for your in-laws, bag it (explain that you’re too ill to take part this year); barter it (ask another family member to host); or better it (make the event a potluck instead).
By canceling, trading or improving commitments we don’t love, we lessen our stress, invite others to support us, and ultimately create a more positive life for ourselves that’s more conducive to healing.
We want to create a life filled with people, experiences and things we LOVE. Because life is too short for things we just sort of like (or worst, actively dislike).
Make that your mantra: love, not like.
P.S. To find a way to love your life while living with cancer join DARE Cancer coaching community, we start in January. Learn more about DARE Cancer and get on the list to be the first to hear when doors open!