It is normal to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed after being told that we have cancer. We all worry, and worry is normal. Underneath the worry are feelings of uncertainty and not feeling safe. It is unsurprising that we worry, especially when there is a lot of uncertainty about our future or health conditions.
We know that: worry takes up a lot of time, we are all very good at worrying, worry peaks at certain times in the day, worry often leads us to think about negative things. So why do we all worry? Usually because we started off thinking it could help in some way: to feel prepared, get thoughts in order, stop bad things from happening, etc.
It’s important to acknowledge your worries, and be kind to yourself. Excessive worry can have a negative effect on our mental and physical well-being if we do not find helpful ways to manage worry. Taking the steps to acknowledge when you are worried and carrying out practical things to help you cope with feelings of worry can reduce distress.
When you notice worry it can be helpful to notice, name and choose…
Notice what you feel or think right now…
Name the feelings or the thought…
Choose what you want to do right now, that is true to what you value...
I notice that I am thinking about becoming unwell and I am feeling frightened. Even though this is upsetting and difficult, I am choosing to phone my brother right now because keeping connections with my loved ones is important to me.
Ask yourself: How do I want to be now, what qualities do I want to show:
Once you have decided what values and qualities are important for how you want to be in these different areas then make choices towards these values:
It is easy to get caught up in thoughts and feeling and miss out on what is happening in the present moment. If you notice getting caught up in worries, try bringing yourself back to the here and now. It might be helpful to try:
Using your senses
Name something you can see, something you can touch and something you can hear. You can repeat this process as many times as needed to bring your focus to the here and now.
It is very easy to feel overloaded when we actively seek information about cancer on the internet or social media etc. “Googling” too much can make us feel overwhelmed, especially as human being we tend to pay more attention to threats! So, try to limit overload:
Have worry-free time
It is normal to worry but sometimes we need to purposefully take time out from worrying. Creating this time out or holiday from worry can be done by:
Our team have created some recorded exercises to help when difficult thoughts and feelings come up. It can sometimes be helpful to drop an anchor and bring us into the present moment to help us whilst these thoughts and feelings pass.
The Clinical Health Psychology team have also started a YouTube channel which we will be adding to with helpful videos. You can access it via this link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0dRK_mTxCr6jyISuVkALOg
The services listed below link directly to their websites where you can find out more. These services mainly offer support with low mood, worry and panic attacks through online therapy or courses, some also offer individual therapy.
It is okay to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed about your health and wellbeing. If you are continuing to find it difficult to manage your experiences, there are services that can support you. There are support services that are available to contact such as: