Are you tired of dealing with the side effects or lingering effects of your breast cancer treatment? Are you looking for ways to “bounce back?” Do you want to reclaim the vitality and stamina that you used to have -- or have been longing for -- and rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit after all that you’ve been through?
Just incorporating a few simple things into your lifestyle might be all you need to counteract mental and physical fatigue -- and anything else that seems to be holding you back from living the life you want.
Here are 10 easy ways to reenergize after breast cancer treatment:
1. Heal your emotions and de-stress
Chronic stress and anxiety not only make you weary, they also can negatively affect your brain and body. When you are overwhelmed and tied up with tension, you can’t think straight, your heart races, your blood pressure rises and, eventually, your health suffers. Unburden your mind and body by learning to de-stress. Exercise, journal, change your schedule, and work to eliminate stressors – or at least lessen their weight – and enjoy the return of your vitality and vigor.
2. Be good to yourself Pamper yourself by getting a massage or facial.
A massage can do more than relax and revitalize you. A growing body of research recognizes the recuperative value of massage as part of a wellness routine and its ability to improve overall well-being, especially when experiencing a serious health condition such as breast cancer. A facial can undo the effects chemotherapy and radiation, such as dry skin. Chemotherapy drugs can cause the skin to become dry, cracked and peeling. Dehydration, weather conditions and medications also can cause dry skin. Facials or at-home rituals can help revitalize your skin after chemotherapy and radiation treatments, but be mindful of the chemicals in the products being used.
3. Get plenty of sleep
Lack of sleep is a primary culprit in unshakeable fatigue. One or two nights of troubled slumber can cause drowsiness, and if you are running on a few hours of sleep every night, exhaustion is going to take over your life. Make getting more sleep a priority so that you wake up feeling refreshed and stay energized all day.
4. Practice yoga and mind meditation
Yoga and meditation can really calm you. Yoga incorporates meditation, relaxation, imagery, controlled breathing and stretching and physical movements. It can help you sleep better, feel more energized and enhance your overall quality of life.
5. Eat breakfast
Skipping breakfast sets you up for a lethargic morning and can keep you feeling weary all day long. By eating a well-balanced breakfast that includes protein and complex carbohydrates, you fuel your mind and body for hours of work or play. Breakfast boosts your energy and sharpens your mind for long-lasting endurance. Even if you tend to wake up and rush out of the door, take advantage of quick-fix meals, such as heat-and-eat egg and sausage dishes, nut butter and jam on toaster waffles, fruit and yogurt smoothies or trail mix and ricotta cheese.
6. Opt for smaller, frequent meals
If you tend to eat 2 or 3 large meals a day, spaced hours apart, your lack of energy might be from low blood sugar. Heavy meals tend to make you drowsy because of the energy needed for digestion, and if your next meal is hours after your food digests, you end up with low blood sugar, another energy drain. Instead, eat 4 to 6 smaller meals spaced 3 or 4 hours apart. Lighter meals won’t weigh you down, and frequent meals will keep your blood sugar on an even keel. Just make sure that you downsize your usual portions and maintain a healthy caloric intake.
7. Snack smarter
With all the high-calorie, high-sugar and high-fat convenience foods available, snacking has gotten a bad rap. However, snacking on fresh fruit and vegetables, salads, light soups, small sandwiches, nuts, whole grains, yogurt or cheese is a healthy way to up your energy when the mid-morning or mid-afternoon slump hits. Whole foods are full of vitality and are an optimal way to raise blood-sugar levels, as well as ensure that you are getting your recommended daily intake of key vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Keep in mind that snacks are miniature meals to tide you over until mealtime – snacking on large portions may lead to weight gain, which can also drag your energy down.
8. Drink plenty of water
Even slight dehydration can cause mental and physical fatigue. You need about eight (8-ounce) glasses of water – or other decaffeinated liquid – every day -- and more when you exercise or are in extreme climates. Try drinking a glass of water every two hours from the time you wake up until bedtime. It will keep you refreshed and well-hydrated throughout your day.
9. Limit your caffeine
That initial jolt of energy you experienced when you started drinking coffee has likely tapered off and only occurs when you drink more – and then some more. Your body naturally develops a tolerance to caffeine, so relying on your cups of coffee to boost your energy is a short-lived solution. And jolting your body with caffeine every time you feel fatigued only adds to your tiredness – you get an instant lift, followed by an energy crash. Stick to a cup or two in the morning. If you are getting enough sleep and eating healthfully, chances are you won’t feel like you have to drink coffee all day.
10. Reenergize with exercise
Though you may think exercise is only going to make you more tired, getting your muscles pumping will oxygenate your brain and body and give you an enlivening endorphin boost. Just taking a brisk walk can revitalize your energy reserves. Exercise will quickly wake you up, tame your tension and improve your health. When that midday malaise starts to set in, hit the gym, yoga center or local park to work out and win your fight against fatigue.
There are many wellness retreats and spas that you can take advantage of to incorporate some
these things into your life. They all work together for your renewal and vitality on the road to recovery.