Unlike last week’s post about the importance of caring for the body to support emotional healing, this week’s post is likely more expected. Yet, as we know, caring for your mind isn’t always the easiest task.
I think one of the trickiest things about the mind, is that this is the place where your assumptions and expectations are generated. Both assumptions and expectations can cause chaos inside of your mind. They can cloud you perception, and when your brain is already cloudy from chemo… let’s just say that’s not a pleasant mixture.
The other thing about the mind is that when you’ve been through something traumatic, like being diagnosed with a life threatening illness, it can work overtime. It’s trying to process not only what is happening in the moment, but also what has happened in the past, and OMG what could happen in the future.
Your mind does it’s best to protect you, but when something traumatic happens, it’s desire to protect is often compromised by the impact of PTSD. For more on that- check out my blog, PTSD and the Cancer Warrior.
The beauty is, while healing the mind may sometimes feel like an uphill battle, it can be a little bit more easy to identify what’s changed since your diagnosis compared to the spirit or your identity. If you can name it, well that means you can find a place to begin.
The first step is cultivating awareness of what is going on, and then looking for ways to slow down your mind’s processing. That’s essential, because the mind often wants to race towards a solution— even when the solution might cause more harm than good.
The second step is allowing your mind to walk through the story of what has happened, of what is happening, of what could happen. Your mind often craves to make sense of the world. It needs a listener. This is often easier said than done when you think about how cancer causes you and your loved ones to face the 4 universal fears. Fear can cloud your perception and perspective. Fear can prevent us from talking to one another, but it’s important to start talking.
In between those two steps, your mind needs it’s own TLC. It needs to recall how to feel comfortable with the present. It needs to reclaim the ability to be quiet. It may need some form of rehabilitation to cope with the fog of chemo. Your mind does best when it feels strongly connected to your body. Practices like yoga, meditation, prayer, and so forth, encourage the mind to relax and come into the present. Creative activities, like art, cooking, reading, writing, and more remind the mind that it has other outlets for harnessing it’s power.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!
-Stephanie McLeod-Estevez, LCPC, is an art therapist and breast cancer survivor, and a former oncology counselor at the Dempsey Center. She began Creative Transformations to help others who are healing emotionally from cancer. Through Creative Transformations, she works with people in person and online to offer the self assessment tool, cancer coaching, an Art as Therapy program,virtual workshops, and this weekly blog. Sign up today so you never miss a blog and find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.