Improving your future psychological wellbeing
When you are making your wellbeing plans, it can be helpful to think about what is likely to benefit you both in the short and the long term. For example, if you are struggling with fatigue, then in the short term it may feel kinder to yourself to have a nap.
However, if you were considering your long term goals, then doing some work around sleep hygiene and activity scheduling might be more helpful, which may involve not going for a nap. This idea can be applied for other examples, such as making healthy lifestyle choices.
It might be helpful to ask yourself:
- What are my hopes and aspirations, both in the short term and the long term?
- What might get in the way of me achieving my goals?
- What first steps can I take to achieve them?
Changing behaviour or forming new habits can be difficult. There may be strategies or approaches to making changes in your life that you have previously used that might be helpful. Set yourself SMART goals.
Breaking your goals into SMART format can be really helpful – on this page “What else can you do now to optimise your rehabilitation and recovery following treatment?”
Your values, your life
Research concerning acceptance and commitment therapy (a type of talking therapy) suggests that living life in accordance with your values can be key to good psychological wellbeing.
Life is likely to be different following cancer, but by being flexible and adaptive, it can be possible to accept that both physical and emotional pain are inevitable as part of the human experience, and difficult thoughts and feelings do not need to run your life.
Values are what helps give live meaning and are individual to you. Your values act like a compass and can help you make choices based on the direction you want your life to go in.
The Valued Living Questionnaire can be used to see whether or not you are currently living your life by your values.
This questionnaire encourages you think about your life values in ten areas, including family, intimate relationships, parenting, social life, work, education/training, fun, spirituality, community, self-care, environmental issues and creative expression.
Completing this questionnaire can help you to define what your values are in life, and whether you are currently living your life in accordance to these values.
Use Psychological Strategies
If you are struggling with difficult feelings, it may be difficult to learn new psychological strategies to manage your wellbeing particularly if you are having ongoing treatment.
You may find it helpful to use helpful strategies you know already work.
If you are finding it difficult to manage intense waves of emotion, try using the ‘dropping anchor’ technique.
Developing a self-soothing box may also help you to manage difficult feelings.
There is good evidence from research that meditation and mindfulness can help individuals to manage difficult feelings, and this has also been found to be the case in individuals following cancer treatment. There is information on the NHS webpage about mindfulness.
It might also be helpful to give yourself permission to reflect upon things that are going well (for example, naming three things in your life that are good, or are going well), as well as having time to reflect on the things that are not going so well (for example, assigning ten minutes a day to write down all of your worries, and then putting them away in a box or drawer).
Further support and help:
The advice on these pages is designed to help you prepare for the treatment ahead and support you through to recovery.
If you need further advice and support please discuss this with your key worker or healthcare professional.
- Macmillan Cancer Support:
0808 808 00 00
- Maggie’s Cardiff:
029 2240 8024
- Tenovus Cancer Care:
0808 808 1010