Regardless of whether you seek out other treatment for your emotional well-being, there are things that you can do to help yourself. You may want to keep a journal; see the next section, where I describe how to begin. Table 11.8 lists some other suggestions that have been helpful to cancer survivors. Also refer to the other chapters in this book; they cover many of the topics listed in Table 11.8 in more depth. For example, in Chapter 7 I discuss the enormous health benefits of exercise during the recovery period. One of the important and widely recognized side effects of regular cardiovascular exercise is an improvement in mood. Regular exercise can be a powerful antidote to a mood disturbance by releasing chemicals in your brain. The purely chemical result of exercise, endorphin release, is good for your emotions, but so are other outcomes, such as the boost to your self-esteem when you relearn to physically challenge yourself and trust your body again.
In Chapter 13 I talk about how people with good support systems have a lower incidence of depression and a better quality of life. Reach out to your trusted friends, family members, or clergy who can be good listeners and provide you with the nurturing that you need during this time. Let your feelings out with someone you feel safe with. Communicating with your loved ones is an essential part of improving your psychological health and will also maintain good relationships with people who support you. In addition, you may benefit from joining a support group made up of people who are suffering with the same or a similar illness.
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