Self-care refers to any action taken to benefit your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Whether you’re recently diagnosed, undergoing treatment, or a survivor of blood cancer, many individual’s feel as though their life is suddenly out of their control. The demands and restrictions of cancer can lead to feelings of frustration and helplessness.

Self-care is one of the best ways a blood cancer patient can regain a sense of control during quarantine. By paying attention to your needs, patients can reduce the adverse effects of stress and anxiety, while improving happiness and health.

Eat well.

Good nutrition has the power to support a healthy immune system, keep the body strong, and help minimize the side effects of treatment. Everyone, including blood cancer patients, should incorporate a variety of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy oils into their diet. A healthy diet also limits saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars, sodium, and alcohol.

Eating well can help you feel better and stay stronger during and after cancer treatment. Patients who eat well and maintain a healthy body weight can often tolerate treatment side effects better. And good nutrition also helps the body replace blood cells and tissues broken down by treatment. Even when you do not feel hungry, it is important to eat small nutritious meals/snacks throughout the day. Many hospitals and treatment centers have nutritionists on staff, so be sure to ask your doctor for a referral if necessary.

Get enough sleep.

Sleep is an essential function that allows your body and brain to recharge. The CDC recommends that healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. Individuals under the age of 18 even more if under the age.

But when it comes to self-care, the quality of sleep is just as important as the amount of sleep. Blood cancer patients can improve the quality of their sleep by sticking to a nightly schedule, limiting caffeine, and creating a restful environment.

Exercise regularly.

Taking care of your body is one of the most important aspects of self-care. Regular exercise can help support your immune system, reduce the risk of depression and anxiety, prevent muscle loss, and lower the chance of treatment side effects.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days a week or more. It is important for blood cancer patients to talk with their doctor beforehand to determine which types of exercises are best for them.

Journal your days.

When quarantining and social distancing, the days and weeks all seem to blur together. Our internal sense of time has been completely disturbed, which can contribute to feelings of restlessness and irritation.

Blood cancer patients can restore their perception of time by journaling their days. Use this opportunity to document your feelings and activities throughout the day and keep track of all your accomplishments, both big and small. Journaling not only helps individuals differentiate between days, but it also helps to reduce stress, clear your mind, and boost your mood.

Disconnect from the online noise.

During quarantine, it can be easy to spend your days with your eyes glued to the screen trying to keep up with the constant updates and news from around the world. But this constant churn of information can be exhausting and detrimental to your mental health.

In order to give your mind a break, turn off your devices for an hour everyday. Use this time to mediate, write a letter to a friend or family member, read, spend time outside, put together a puzzle, or pick up a new hobby. Disconnecting has been shown to lower blood pressure, while improving your focus and increasing self-worth.

If you would like to learn more about self-care during quarantine, need help coping with isolation and stress, please contact There Goes My Hero at 443-339-4375 or email us at stephanie.cupp@theregoesmyhero.org.