Maintaining your work-life balance is only one of the many challenges you will face while undergoing breast cancer treatment. You will probably experience extra stress and anxiety while you adjust to therapy and learn to cope with illness. This is a time to take care of yourself by eating right, getting enough rest, and if possible, exercising. If you take it one step at a time, you may find that balancing life with breast cancer treatment is completely do-able.
Finding a healthy work-life balance is a continuous process- especially as your priorities, interests, family, and schedule perpetually change. Here are a few ideas to help you find the best work-life balance for you:
Track Your Activity
Track everything you do for a week – work and personal. Decide what satisfies you the most, and what tasks are necessary. Delegate or cut out the remainder.
Explore All Your Options
Ask your employer about flexible hours, a compressed work week, job sharing, telecommuting or other scheduling flexibility to help reduce stress and free up time for other things.
Leave Work at Work
Make a conscious decision to separate work time from personal time. Because of modern technology, there are virtually no boundaries between work and home and many people are tempted to use their computers or smartphones to finish projects after-hours. Enforce your own boundaries and focus on personal or family time while at home.
Get Better at Time Management
Make a point to run a few errands every day instead of saving them all for your day off. Put family events on a weekly calendar and keep a daily to-do list. Make as many notes as you need!
Build an Emergency Support Network
At work, join forces with co-workers who can cover for you, and vice-versa. At home, enlist trusted friends and loved ones to help with your kids or household responsibilities when you need to work late or travel.
Managing Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can be very frustrating issues as they are pervasive in life, especially when going through breast cancer treatment. Here are some helpful tips for treating and reducing your symptoms:
Whether you go for a walk, take a dance class, of life weights, exercise is one of the best things you can do to combat stress and anxiety. The physical activity relieves tension and lifts a heavy spirit. Exercise also sends endorphins to your brain, boosting your mood for hours or longer.
Mindfulness helps you reconnect with the sources of strength, balance and peace that practitioners of this technique believe are already within you. Through mindfulness skills, you learn to distance yourself from thoughts, emotions and reactions that lead you to feel out of control. Instead, you refocus on simple moments in the present and discover that right now, in this moment, you are okay.
Deep breathing is a very simple and effective method of relaxation for when you feel anxious. As you inhale, inflate your abdomen out if you can; hold for a few seconds. Then exhale fully, using your abdominal muscles to push out all the breath (talk with your doctor first if you had surgery that affects these muscles). Breathing techniques taught in yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices also help reduce stress.
Keeping your sense of humor intact is important, especially when you feel stressed. Laughter brings on the body’s relaxation response, boosts immune function, and can be a good coping mechanism. Spend time with people you think are funny, put on a funny movie, and find humor in the life’s little moments.
Bonding with a pet can be one of the most emotionally rewarding experiences of your day-to- day life. Pets provide love, comfort, joy, and laughter. They can also be sources of routine, diversion, exercise, and physical comfort. If you’re not feeling well and need help feeding or walking your pet, you can ask a friend to help.
Talking it Out
No matter how loving and supportive your friends and family are, talking to someone outside that circle can be helpful. You can find Support Groups at hospitals, at cancer centers, in the community, or online. Even if you regularly attend a support group, there may be times when you might benefit from private sessions with a confidential, knowledgeable listener such as a Therapist. This could mean a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or community counselor.
You’re not “failing to cope” if you seek counseling services. In fact, asking for help is a sign of strength.
- Maintain a good sleep schedule. Rest or nap when you need to.
- Take your medicine for pain or anxiety as prescribed.
- Try not to compare yourself to anyone else, even someone with the same type of breast cancer.