Tips for staying well in mind and body during coronavirus
Self-isolation, social distancing, home quarantine – we’re all adjusting to new words and a new normal as this health pandemic sweeps the globe. However, for many people with a blood cancer, these practices are often second nature as they manage everyday life with compromised immune systems.
We all react differently to stressful situations. As a person living with or beyond blood cancer, you might be experiencing feelings of isolation, uncertainty and anxiety. As a caregiver, you might be feeling overwhelmed with navigating your loved one’s care while looking after your own needs. And as a family member, you might be feeling unsure of how you can help. This is all understandable, and you’re not alone.
The Leukemia Foundation is here to help. We encourage people living with or beyond blood cancer, caregivers and families to get in touch with us on 1800 620 420 (8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
14 ways to looking after your health and wellbeing
These are a few things you can do when experiencing isolation, uncertainty and anxiety as well helping you to feel your best.
1. Contact your cancer team if you’re concerned
Treating teams are already putting new processes in place to keep you and the staff safe. Knowing what they’re doing may be reassuring.
2. Take breaks from the media
Watching, reading, or listening to the news and social media about the pandemic constantly can be upsetting. Perhaps choose just once-a-day to check in on the news and remember to stick to trusted sources to avoid misinformation.
3. You don’t have to put on a brave face
This situation can be stressful and acknowledging that is okay. Most people find uncertainty difficult and it can be useful to think about ways you’ve handled stress in the past, such as through meditation or talking to someone.
4. Do some calming exercises
Meditation, yoga, relaxation exercises, whatever works for you! Headspace has free meditation resources at headspace.com/meditation/guided-meditation.
You could try the APPLE technique:
Acknowledge. Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
Pause. Don’t react as you normally do, don’t react at all. Pause and breathe.
Pull back. Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, it is only a thought or feeling. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
Let go. Let go of the thought or feeling. Imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
Explore. Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the ground beneath you. What can you see, hear, smell and touch – right now. Then shift your attention to what you need to do, or were doing, or do something else mindfully with your full attention.
5. Practice good hygiene
There is no evidence to show that people with blood cancer are at a greater risk of catching the virus, but because of your diagnosis there may be a greater risk of getting sicker if you do get it. Be extra vigilant with recommended precautions such as hand washing, not touching your face, staying at home and cleaning your home routinely.
6. Eat well
Good nutrition can support a healthy immune system. Follow a healthy menu that incorporates a variety of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day to stay energised and ensure your body is getting enough calories, proteins, and nutrients.
7. Get enough sleep
Make sure you’re getting good, quality sleep if you can. Adults should aim to get seven hours or more every night. If you have trouble sleeping, try a few simple tips like going to bed at the same time each night, avoiding large meals before bed and if you need rest, keep naps to 30 minutes or less. If you’re concerned speak to your healthcare team.
8. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise can help support your immune system and promote good heart health. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week. Depending on your age, where you are in your treatment, and your present state of fitness, you might need to modify exercise routines, but spending some time moving and being active is great for physical and mental health.
9. Stay in touch
Use video calling tools such as FaceTime, Zoom, Facebook Messenger or Skype to communicate. Call friends and family as often as possible and let them know how you’re feeling so they can offer the support you need.
10. Enjoy calming activities
Cozy up with a good book, start an arts-and-crafts project or listen to music. Try streaming services, board games or online games for more entertainment.
11. Express yourself
Putting pen to paper, blogging, capturing videos or scrapbooking and journaling can help with how you’re feeling.
12. Get organised
If you’re working from home, create a dedicated space for work and break up tasks into bite-sized pieces.
13. Ask for help and accept help when it is offered
Ask someone to pick up groceries or medications for you. If you’re a caregiver, find support here.
14. Your GP is there to help
Your primary care team plays a vital role in managing many aspects of your overall health and wellbeing. If you feel you need any advice or guidance relating to your general health and wellbeing (including your mental health) please speak with your GP as there may be specific recommendations or referrals they can make.
Last updated on April 8th, 2020
Developed by the Leukaemia Foundation in consultation with people living with a blood cancer, Leukaemia Foundation support staff, haematology nursing staff and/or Australian clinical haematologists. This content is provided for information purposes only and we urge you to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis, treatment and answers to your medical questions, including the suitability of a particular therapy, service, product or treatment in your circumstances. The Leukaemia Foundation shall not bear any liability for any person relying on the materials contained on this website.