Self-care practices, such as staying physically active, eating a balanced diet, and more, can help one cope with the side effects and changes to quality of life that occur during lung cancer treatment.
During lung cancer treatment, a person must manage appointments, medications, test results, medical bills, and more. With so much to balance, making space for one’s self-care can be difficult, and it may not seem like a priority.
However, self-care practices and lifestyle choices can go a long way toward helping people with lung cancer feel better during treatment.
In fact, proper self-care may also help a person reduce some of the side effects of lung cancer and treatment. These side effects can include:
- nausea or vomiting
- general weakness
- mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression
Certain lung cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, can cause other side effects, such as loss of appetite, infections, and constipation. People can relieve these side effects through lifestyle changes.
This article discusses the lifestyle changes and self-care practices that may make recovery during lung cancer treatment easier. These practices may also boost self-esteem and emotional health.
Lung cancer treatment can place a great deal of stress on the lungs. It is important to protect them as well as one can.
This starts with being aware of air quality. When the outside air is low quality, it may be difficult for a person with stressed lungs to breathe easily. For example, pollen, pollution, and emissions can affect air quality.
Local weather channels often monitor air quality. A person with lung cancer may want to consider keeping tabs on the quality rating to know if they are likely to have difficulty breathing outdoors.
Additionally, wearing a mask when around many people may be beneficial. High quality masks can help protect one from the viruses that cause colds and other respiratory infections. Wearing a mask is a simple prevention step that one may want to consider doing.
Another important step to take to protect the lungs is to try to quit smoking. Even if a person receives a lung cancer diagnosis, quitting has many benefits.
Soon after a person quits smoking, their blood pressure and heart rate return to typical levels. After that, their risk of other chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, begins to fall.
Smoking adds undue stress and irritates the lungs. This can hinder healing and functioning during lung cancer treatment.
Ask your doctor for local resources to help with smoking cessation. They can direct you to support groups or cessation programs. The American Lung Association also has resources available.
Physical activity is beneficial, even if it requires energy a person may not feel they have during lung cancer treatment.
In fact, exercise and regular movement may help build endurance and reduce fatigue. Exercise can also reduce anxiety and stress, boost self-esteem, and improve symptoms during lung cancer treatment.
Even if exercise was not part of a person’s routine before a lung cancer diagnosis, it is OK to start exercising after one. Long, intense workouts are unnecessary. Even short bursts of movement, such as a walk around the street or a quick stretching session, are helpful.
If a person is unsure where to start, they may want to consider consulting a healthcare professional or a physical therapist. These individuals can help design a safe workout routine that is unlikely to irritate the lungs or worsen the side effects of lung cancer treatment.
One side effect of some cancer treatments is reduced appetite. A person undergoing lung cancer treatment may lose weight because they develop an aversion to how most food tastes or have a reduced appetite that keeps them from eating.
A registered dietitian is a healthcare professional who can help a person adjust their diet to find appealing foods and meals packed with nutrients that are unlikely to make them feel ill.
Each person’s needs during lung cancer treatment will differ. That is why it is important to work with a professional who knows how to customize diets to help a person manage side effects and improve overall well-being.
A lung cancer diagnosis can feel isolating. It may seem difficult to draw in friends or family members to get the help a person needs. However, the first step in practicing self-care may just be knowing when and how to ask for help.
The physical and emotional toll of lung cancer treatment can be difficult to handle for many people. Friends and family can lighten the load in small ways by helping with grocery shopping, picking up kids from school, running errands, or just visiting when a person feels down or too tired, for example.
A lung cancer support group may help one feel less isolated by connecting with others having similar experiences. Consider asking a healthcare professional for help finding a local support group.
Fatigue is a common side effect of lung cancer treatment. A person must listen to their body and rest when needed. However, adequate rest may require effort, too.
It is important for a person going through lung cancer treatment to get a proper amount of sleep each day. Both sleeping too much and too little can have a negative effect on physical and emotional health.
Prioritizing rest may also mean planning ahead for activities so a person can rest and recharge before and after. Spacing out tasks, such as grocery shopping or exercise, can help a person avoid depleting their energy and setting themselves back in recovery.
Call on friends and family during these times to complete errands or handle tasks.
It is important for a person undergoing lung cancer treatment not to overlook the need for self-care and lifestyle changes to aid recovery and cope with side effects.
Self-care strategies, such as resting enough and eating a balanced diet, can help a person reduce the effects of lung cancer and treatment.
Taking these steps can help people feel better, stronger, and more engaged in their daily activities. Focusing on self-care can also have a strong emotional health benefit during treatment.