We understand that many of you with breast cancer, or a history of breast cancer, are feeling quite unsettled as the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation changes daily, disrupting your usual routine.
You are not alone. It’s important to understand that fear and stress is normal in a situation where we are dealing with the unknown.
It’s important to manage distress in the same way you would manage any symptom you may experience as a part of your breast cancer diagnosis.
Breast cancer social worker, Dr Carrie Lethborg, has provided some information and practical strategies for dealing with the unknown, staying connected, managing distress and finding support. This information can also be found in BCNA’s My Journey online tool.
Dealing With The Unknown
Much of the stress around the coronavirus is about the unknown. To help reduce this stress it’s important to bring your focus back to the here and now, rather than worrying about what’s going to happen next week, next month, or next year.
Identify the support system you currently have in place and consider what additional support or information you may need, and start focusing on ways to reduce stress.
Social distancing and quarantine are important ways of protecting yourselves and others in the community, but these measures can cause feelings of distress and isolation.
Finding a balance between social distancing/quarantine and connection with others is critically important. With internet-based communication platforms, like FaceTime, Skype, WhatApp, Messenger and email, keeping in touch with your village can help to ease feelings of loneliness.
Accessing the BCNA Online Network is a way to connect with a whole community of people who are going through what you are. You can visit the Online Network at any time of the day or night at: onlinenetwork.bcna.org.au
While staying in regular contact with others is important, there are a range of other things you can do to manage feelings of distress during a time of social isolation.
Doing 30 minutes of exercise several times a week can help lower stress while online exercise, yoga and relaxation sessions can also be of great benefit. Try to maintain a healthy, balanced diet and get seven or more hours of sleep each night. Open the windows, get some fresh air, feel the sunlight and hear the sounds of nature, or take the time to do an activity you find relaxing, like reading a book, watching TV, gardening or listening to music.
Consider managing your time on social media to make sure you are using information to guide your actions, not feed your fears. Keep informed on developments, but limit the time you spend browsing social media and watching or listening to the news. You really only need to update twice a day to keep informed.
- Exercise regularly
- Get some fresh air
- Talk to family and friends
- Eat well
- Get plenty of sleep
- Join a support group
- Schedule daily relaxing time