In addition to offering resources to help you manage working during and after cancer treatment, Cancer and Careers hosts webinars to promote healthy living. Recently, Julie Larson, LCSW, who has worked with many cancer survivors, shared tips for caring for yourself both within and outside of the workplace in a presentation titled, Managing Long-Term Stress. Here we provide an overview.
When it comes to managing stress, first, challenge yourself to become increasingly self-aware
- Realize when you are stressed and ask yourself what is the cause? Is it due to a particular person or event?
- Where do you feel the stress? Is it in your shoulders, stomach, causing a headache or making you feel tired?
Then, identify the behaviors or actions you use to care for yourself
- Make a list of different ways you care of yourself and be as specific as possible (e.g. take a walk, speak with a friend who makes you laugh)
If you hear a negative voice inside your head
- Remember it is well intentioned, it wants you to be safe and okay, but it is preventing you from experiencing the present moment. Don’t let it make assumptions or hold you back.
If you anticipate a stressful situation
- Ground yourself: Look up, Breathe, Feel your feet on the ground, tune into your body
- Break projects into small/manageable tasks
- Prepare in advance (e.g. practice an important conversation you want to have with your boss, with a friend first)
- Professional support: A therapist can work with you to identify your stress triggers and provide tools for coping with stress. When seeking professional support consider his/her location, cost, insurance coverage, experience, gender, age and/or style.
- Connect with other survivors: Connecting with others who have experienced cancer can provide reassurance and validation that you are not alone in your feelings. Sharing information and learning from others may benefit you and the other person.
- Reach out to friends and family: These individuals have a history with you and you may feel more comfortable sharing your vulnerabilities with them.
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