A cancer journey can present a host of challenges that affect all areas of your life. That’s why it’s important to set boundaries that help you take care of your physical, mental and emotional health.
Think of boundaries as a way to protect yourself. Just like a house has a door to keep out threats, mental and emotional boundaries guard your health and well-being.
Boundaries help you maintain balance in your life and cope with your emotions, stressors and outlook on life. Setting limits also can help you manage expectations of those around you.
Here are ways to set boundaries and take the best possible care of yourself during active treatment and beyond.
- Protect your energy. Learn to politely say “no” to invitations or offers for social activities as you manage treatment-related fatigue. Choose activities that mean the most to you and skip the rest to save your physical strength.
- Share information selectively. Set your own rules about information you want to share with others. You may want a loved one or caregiver to know details about your diagnosis or treatment. For others, a general response about your well-being may help you conserve emotional energy.
- Give yourself permission – guilt-free. Remind yourself that taking care of you and your needs can help you reduce stress and cope with challenges in your life.
- Check up on yourself. Reset or reinforce boundaries if you feel your needs and the expectations of others are out of balance.
Remember that self-care is not selfish. particularly when you're dealing with difficult health challenges. Setting and maintaining boundaries can help you manage your physical, mental and emotional health, reduce stress, and improve your overall quality of life.
Kim Mathews, MS, LMHC, CT, provides mind-body counseling support to cancer patients, their family members and caregivers at Goshen Center for Cancer Care. She offers coping strategies like these to help patients improve their quality of life and manage cancer-related issues, such as stress, anxiety and sleep difficulties.