1) Start Your Morning Off Right
Yes. I said morning and not night. If this is out of your control because you work a night shift then please know that I’m not trying to guilt you by any means. Several studies have shown that those who work a night shift, or who have a hard time sleeping at night, have an elevated risk of cancer and heart disease compared to those who sleep at night and spend most of their waking hours throughout the day. I may share a blog post about managing sleep in the future, but who knows how long that might take. I already have this topic available in the PWCG membership benefits. You can access it by becoming a member today.
Try to Remain Consistent with the Time You Get Up in the Morning.
I know many people look forward to the weekends because they get to sleep in. Yet, when Monday rolls back around you find yourselves having to adjust all over again because you did sleep in quite a bit on Saturday and Sunday. It’s not as bad as the adjustment many people have to springing it forward in Daylight Savings Time, but part of the reason you’re dreading the work week again is because you slept in and are now finding yourself having to readjust – – and this happens on a weekly basis. When we’re already starting our week off dreading it, and then following that up with feeling tired at the start, it can lead to a vicious cycle of trying to catch up and never really feeling like we’re able to do so. This can lead to depression, which leads to more sleepless nights, and we never feel productive.Instead, we’re stressing ourselves out.
Exercise in the Morning
Exercise boosts energy and endorphins. You want most of your energy at the start of the day, when you’re trying to wake up . You can also clean up and get ready for the day after you exercise, rather than trying to clean up in the middle of the day. I’ve found that when I exercise at night I often have a hard time settling down. Exercising in the morning builds up the energy needed throughout the day. Then we can focus on maintaining the momentum of that energy throughout a majority of the day, until it’s time to wind down (we’ll get to winding down toward the end of this post).
If you’re in a committed, and preferably married relationship, you can exercise before you even get out of bed. Read between the lines (or sheets) to figure this out. This type of exercise not only boosts endorphins, but it also boosts oxytocin. Both endorphins and oxytocin produce energy and boost our moods. So they help us start the day off right. Oxytocin also helps us feel connected.. Studies have shown that those who feel connected tend to live longer than those who do not have connections.
If you can’t have sex, get a dog. Pets give many of us a reason to get up for the day. On days I don’t feel like doing much, I’m forced to get up to feed my dogs and chickens. My dogs also enjoy taking walks. Some days I don’t feel like taking a walk but I know my dogs benefit from this, so I do it. I then find that the walk I took actually benefited me as much as it did my dogs. Not only that, but we produce oxytocin when we have interactions with our pets. It’s very similar to the oxytocin released when a mother nurtures a child. Walking is great exercise for many breast cancer patients. Some of us had a solid exercise routine before our breast cancer diagnosis, but many of us weren’t really leading a healthy lifestyle prior to our diagnosis. So we might find it hard to start an exercise routine.
Walking is a great “gateway” exercise. It’s not as hard to begin as most other more strenuous routines. So we’re more likely to remain consistent with walking. When it’s all said and done, the key is consistency rather than how strenuous our routine is. Walking is beneficial for managing nausea during chemotherapy. It’s also beneficial if one of the long-term side effects we’re enduring is bone loss. It’s a weight-bearing exercise, and exercises that are moderately weight-baring benefit our bone health by helping to maintain our bone strength and density.
Yoga helps with our flexibility, clears our mind, and teaches us to relax and breathe. All of these help us increase our endorphins and keep our minds focused on what matters throughout the day. It’s not strenuous. It’s also easy to maintain consistency with yoga, because it can be done indoors or outdoors. So the success of our consistency is not dependent on the weather.
Morning Sense Indulgence Can Help Boost Our Energy and Mood
Being very present throughout the day is important. Part of that involves indulging in our senses and taking pleasure in the little things in life. What do you see in a typical morning that might get you going? Sunlight. This is a reason it’s important to try start your day in the morning rather than at night (check out my 10-chapter course for more tips on sleep management). What do you hear in the morning? It might be a little bit daunting to start out the day with really high-energy music, but enjoyable music is a great thing to listen to at the beginning of the day. Music with positive thinking lyrics is great to listen to when trying to start the day off right. If you’re a Christian you may already know that beginning the day with some positive Christian music helps us focus on what really matters as we start out our day. Indulge your nose in scents that boost your energy and mood. Therapeutic-grade essential oils are great for indulging our noses with energy boosting scents. Peppermint boosts energy, as well as orange essential oils. Have them in a diffuser in your bedroom or bathroom as you’re getting ready for the day. Eating peppermint and oranges in the morning also helps boost your mood and energy, and peppermint helps freshen your breath. I personally think drinking true (no sugar added) orange juice is like drinking in the sunshine. Look at an orange. Does it not have the resemblance of the sun? Slice it in half. Do you not see it? It looks like the rays emanating from the sun! Indulge your sense of touch by adding a hint of peppermint oil in our lip balm or lip stick. I have a favorite peppermint oil lip balm I love to use in the morning. Not only does it keep my lips healthy, but it gives a great tingly feeling that awakens me in the morning.
Have a Non-Sugary, Non-Processed Breakfast
If you feel you can’t go without juice, make sure it’s all natural fruit juice. Typical fruit juices on the market tend to have high sugar content. You might find a quick boost of energy, but you’ll soon feel yourself crashing well before noon. The same can be said about donuts, or even cereal. If it’s high in simple carbohydrates the benefits of the energy boost won’t last long. While many people don’t feel they can face the day without their coffee, green tea is also a great caffeinated drink to start the day. While it’s also caffeinated, it’s got about half the caffeine coffee typically has. So it won’t give you the jitters but you’ll still feel a long lasting boost of energy. Green tea also boosts our antioxidants. The theanine acid in green tea helps calm our nervous system. Add honey as a natural sweetener. Honey helps maintain our immune systems, and it’s great for soothing sore throats and coughs. Aim for a breakfast that’s not heavily processed. Instead of eggs with toast or hash browns, consider eggs on a few slices of baked sweet potato. Bread tends to be highly processed, and even regular potatoes are high on the glycemic index, so eating them may give you quick (but not long-lasting) energy. Sweet potatoes are lower on the glycemic index but they lend carotenoids and other health benefits that are great for starting off the day right. Top your sweet potato and egg with some fresh pico de gallo to get a well balanced breakfast. Another alternative to donuts and cereal is a nice warm bowl of oatmeal with some pecans on top. Oatmeal is less processed, and helps with heart health. Pecans add some protein. Top your oatmeal with a modest amount of honey or maple syrup rather than sugar.
2) Stay Positive Throughout the Day
Keep Your Mind Focused on What’s Most Important
Treat each day as a fresh start. Your sleep was your reset button. While you might not be able to necessarily write off the troubles from the day before don’t beat yourself up over them. Starting the day off with prayer, meditation, and scripture has many benefits in helping you focus on the most important things in life. When you find yourself frustrated with challenges throughout the day, stop, take a deep breath, and ask yourself if what you’re worrying about is important in the grand scheme of things.
Focus on What’s In Your Control
If it’s not in your control it’s a waste of time to worry about it. If something’s really bothering you, take out a sheet of paper and fold it in half. On one half, write down the things you can control about the situation. On the other half, write down the things that are out of your control. Then focus on what you can control. Many Christians find great freedom in giving up control to God. He gives us what we can control, and we give the rest of it up to God. There is a tremendous release of stress in this act of submission.
Be Aware of Blessings
When we find ourselves always focusing on the negatives we end up in a vicious cycle of negative. Yet when we focus on the positives, we tend to find ourselves truly blessed. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to feel blessed. So I work on focusing on what makes me feel blessed rather than stressed. Focusing on our blessings may require us to begin by literally taking a step back and forcing ourselves to list blessings. Once we get the hang of noticing these blessings, we may not have to literally write them down all the time (but it doesn’t hurt).
3) Keep It Short & Simple (K.I.S.S)
Write Up a Prioritized To-Do List Every day
Start out with a simple to-do list. Simply jot down everything you can think of that you have to tackle today. Then look at that list. Write a one by the thing you absolutely must accomplish, a two by the next priority, a three by the next priority, and so forth. Re-write your list with the order of your tasks. Writing things down like this should help us feel less overwhelmed. If you don’t check off every item, don’t let that stress you. Very few of us actually check off all of our agendas. Most of us have an on-going to-do list. By writing down and prioritizing your tasks, you can look back at the end of the day and visually notice how much you actually got done.
Take Things One Day at a Time
Rome wasn’t build in a day. Even God took the seventh day off. Perfection doesn’t come from constantly creating and doing. Taking a break at the end of the day allows us to enjoy what we actually did accomplish. Taking things one day at a time gives us a chance to forgive ourselves and re-energize so we can tackle whatever we need to accomplish the next day. It also gives us a fresh perspective. Constantly staying in the creative mode leads us to get lost in details and not see the big picture. A problem we’re focused on will likely never be solved when we’re constantly trying to find the solution. Taking a step back allows us to come back with clearer minds.
4) Manage Relationships
It’s okay to say no. I’ll say that again. It’s okay to say NO. Many of you I”m talking to are women. We were raised to be people-pleasers and put ourselves last. Yet you can’t pour from an empty vessel. If it’s stressing you out and draining you thin it might be time to nix it from your schedule. This is especially true if you’ve gotten a breast cancer diagnosis or you are in the middle of breast cancer treatment. ANYONE who thinks they’re entitled to demand from you during this particular time has problems. So don’t let them make YOU feel like you’re the one in the wrong. If you’re not in the middle of treatment it’s still important to be mindful of when you’re being spread too thin. Doing so helps you avoid needing treatment in the future.
While it’s okay to say no, it’s also important to sometimes say yes. I’m not talking about saying yes to another volunteer opportunity or job demand. I’m talking about saying yes to people who offer help. If someone is offering to watch your kids so you can make your doctor appointments, or someone is offering to clean your house (see the FREE RESOURCES section for FREE housekeeping during your chemo), or someone is offering to cook a meal, say YES. Cancer patients need to accept help when they need it, and there are MANY people out there who want to feel like they’re making a difference. LET THEM. As long as their presence isn’t also stressing you out (some people have over-bearing and meddling in-laws who do MORE than help) say YES.
Note Your True Support Groups
Getting a breast cancer diagnosis can make many people feel very isolated. So many people around us don’t know what to say and they run away because they’re afraid of doing or saying the wrong things. Then there are the opposite who always do or say the wrong thing and seem to not even care that they’re being annoying. Then there are support groups. Joining one (or two, or three…) support groups can be a great benefit to a breast cancer patient. We “get it” like no one else does. There are some do’s and don’ts I won’t go into in this post (or I’ll lose focus on the main idea of this post). You can join our membership for support group guidance, and WE”RE actually a support group!
Write Down Your Thoughts Before Speaking
Think through the actions you need to take before reacting. Organize your thoughts first. You’re more likely to confidently execute a plan while also keeping a positive relationship with your family, boss, or colleagues at work. Don’t be afraid to speak out when there’s too much stress. Bringing these issues to light expresses that you’re self-aware. TRUE awareness of stress and how we manage it supports TRUE progress and efficiency at work and at home.
5) Be Present
In the same wisdom of taking things one day at a time, approach your day in segments. Complete a task and go to the restroom, get some water, or take a brisk 5-minute walk. This clears your head so you can freshly focus on the next task at hand. Many teachers are starting to implement potty breaks, recess, or simple wiggle and stretch time into their teaching so kids can focus in the classroom. The same goes for adults. We can’t sit in front of a computer all day long without feeling like we’re falling asleep or losing focus. Taking these shorts spurts of time to re-energize isn’t being a slacker. It’s quite the opposite. It increases your efficiency.
Live & Laugh
Remember me telling you to write down what you can control and what’s out of your control? when things are bothering you, do this. When things are out of your control you can take this a step further by finding a sense of humor in the situation. If you can’t find any humor in the situation, think about something totally unrelated that makes you laugh – – even if just for a moment or two.
There are MANY benefits to laughter. It increases our production of endorphins, putting us in a good mood and helping relieve pain and stress. It also reduces our body’s production of cortisol and adrenaline that can increase fat, cancer risk, and stress.
Turn off Electronics & Notifications
There was a day and age when people used to not be as chained to their entertainment or work that is now no farther away than your cell phone. Some people even have social media notifications show up on their phones! They’re either afraid of missing out on anything, or they simply aren’t aware of how to turn off these notifications (I give this as a bonus link if you become a member). Either way, having Facebook and other notifications so close to our fingertips can be overwhelming. You especially don’t need to hear every like or comment come in on a post when you’re undergoing any kind of cancer treatment. This is even more true when drama ensues on social media. The less drama you see the less stress in which you object yourself.
Don’t Be Too Serious
Life isn’t about making the next dollar. It’s not about pleasing everyone. Sit down and REALLY think about the purpose of life. When we do that it helps us realize that being so serious is a waste of time. There is a time to be serious and there is a time to let it all go. When we’re facing the end of the day it’s a time to let it all go. Go back to distracting yourself from your problems by allowing yourself to laugh and BREATHE. Some of us don’t even notice we’re holding our breath!
Listen to Your Body
Even throughout the day, we need to take breaks. This is especially true when our BODY is sending us signals to take a break. If you find yourself falling asleep at your desk. GET UP. Go take a walk. The fresh air will do you good, and the action will wake you back up. If you’re STILL falling asleep it may be a sign that you’re due for some major lifestyle changes. Are you getting enough sleep at night? Are you eating correctly? Are you exercising? Any one, or a combination, of these factors can cause fatigue. If you’re undergoing cancer treatment no wonder you’re finding it hard to stay awake. You’re body is trying to repair itself. If your feet are cramping or you have a headache, are you staying hydrated and eating the right foods? LET YOURSELF RELAX. TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY and LISTEN TO IT. Your body will thank you. (If you want the 10 keys to listening to your body, enroll here).
Keep a Work/Life Balance
It’s hard to keep a balance between these two 100% of the time, but if you’ve been forced to choose life and family should always come first. If you can’t take care of yourself and your family then you’re not going to be as efficient as you need to be at work. A wise boss stays mindful of this principle. The goal is to give work 100% of your time when you’re at work and give yourself and your family 100% of your time when you’re not at work. If you’re finding that you’re spending more than 40-50 hours a week at work it might be time to consider different employment. This might sound cliched, but no one dies on their death beds wishing they spent more time at work. It’s the memories we create that make up a meaningful life. Work is simply a tool to help us afford our lives. If we learn to live within our means that makes things easier.
7) End Your Night Right
Go to Bed the Same Time Every Night
Just as with getting up at the same time every morning, go to bed at the same time every night. These things go hand in hand. If you go to bed at the same time every night then it’s easier to get up at the same time every morning. If you get up at the same time every morning then it’s easier to go to bed at the same time every night. When we keep this routine then we find it easier to keep the other keys to our health in check.
Keep Focus on Self, Family, and Relaxing
If we’re constantly going, all the time, we can’t relax and wind down at the end of the day. Keep work at work. Exercise in the morning. Try to do your chores at the beginning of your time home: cooking, dishes, laundry, vacuuming. DO take a quick break if you must, but you want to keep those chores that require energy for the beginning of your time to wind down so you can TRULY relax toward the end of your day. If you love physics then you know that once you get a thing started it is hard to get it to stop. When your work shift is over it’s time to shift gears. Go to a lower gear. Gradually lower your gears so you can eventually park for the night. Does that make sense? What do you do to relax at the end of the day? Drop me a comment below.