How to Find Balance After Chemo and Radiation
by Christie Perkins
Finding balance after a major setback can be frustrating. After I finished chemo and radiation I believed that life would spring back to “normal” for me.
Preconceived notions are quite humorous. Yep. Hilarious.
For the entire year after treatments I found myself laying on the ground more than I was walking gracefully on any kind of balance beam. Oh, I would get up but it wasn’t long before I was toppling over…
And dreaming peacefully about falsified energy zings & things. Then I’d wake up more behind. “Be patient with yourself,” my doctor would tell me over and over. I was tired of being patient. Hadn’t I spent the entire year before being patient?
I was done.
Or I thought I was. But I remembered what I used to be able to do IN ONE DAY. Now, the same tasks took all week or petered off to never getting done. Leaning more heavily on the latter. Seriously, I’ve taken stacks of paper piles and hid them in my closet. Out of sight, out of mind works when your brain power is zapped too. It’s kind of fun to mess with your own mind. And when you find that paper pile months later you find you can ditch most of them anyway. Well worth the hide and seek moment.
Learning to say yes or no to life’s demands can be a bit of a struggle. I said yes to things I shouldn’t have (5 mile hike with a youth group) and no to things I should have said yes to (reading a dinky kids story). Psh! No wonder I’d topple. I had to learn to find my balance by walking the line more carefully.
7 Simple Tips to a More Balanced Life
To find your balance remember the acronym BALANCE for tips to a better balanced life: Where do you stand on the balance beam? Are you heavy on doing these things or extra light? Find what you need to say yes or no to a little more.
B Books: Are you learning? Are you reading books, magazines, how to manuals? I’m not just talking about surfing the internet because it’s easy to get distracted. Internet surfing is like walking into Walmart without a list- you’re going to end up with stuff in your cart you didn’t need or want. Focus on the one thing you want to learn and dive in. And an added bonus: as you feed the mind it can ward off feelings of depression.
A Associations: Make connections. Call, contact, or reach out to someone daily. Do the simple things that build your relationships. Read that dinky kids book. Write a thank you, yak with the neighbor, start a conversation with a stranger, call a relative, go for a drive with a parent or child. People are a very important part of recovery. But don’t expect them to flock to your house, you initiate it.
L Leisure Time: To do lists are all out of whack for me when I was trying to find my balance. Mostly because I was so behind on everything, I felt like I needed to spend all of my energy catching up. But this never brings happiness to see my to do list with void of check marks. Make time for yourself. Schedule it in. This would be a time slot of no commitment. Maybe you will rest, play the piano, read a fun book, bake, sew, go fishing; play baseball. I’m sure you have some ideas.
A Annoyances: That paper pile driving you nuts? Is there an underlying thought that keeps bothering you? Take care of it. Need to make a phone call? House call? Is that junk pile about to fall? Maybe your kid keeps bugging you to play a game with him. Maybe you should say yes this time. Are you saying yes to too many things that are insignificant and are taking up valuable brain and power. I know I do, who doesn’t? I hate wasting time so when I do I’m very unsatisfied. Make a plan, then stick to it. (I’m sorry if this flared up your annoyances…I meant to do that. Go ahead, stick your tongue out at me.)
N Nutrition & Exercise: Do you have the habit of hacking into the licorice stash? Stop, drop and roll on out of there. Find one thing a day to improve your eating habits: drink more water, incorporate more vegetables, eat an apple before any snack (and to keep the doctors away). Whatever. Keep it simple and obtainable. Exercise will give you that natural boost in mood you’re looking for. Find things that you love. For me it’s basketball, step aerobics, and night walks with my husband.
C Creative Outlets: This was the biggest way I was able to bounce back after cancer treatments. My energy levels frustrated me but once I started writing I was much more satisfied with life. The power of the mind in motion is amazing. Stretch yourself. Write, paint, build, draw, organize, dance, whatever.
E Execute Goals: Don’t just think about what you would like to do “one day.” Put your plan into action. Take daily little steps to get what you want out of life. Big dreams will hang out in La-La Land forever if all you ever do is dream. Work toward something you want… you’re never too old. Put your stamp in this world.
Make sure you hit each of these areas each week. And hit up some of them every day. Good luck on finding a little more balance in your life.
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