Life with a brain tumour comes with unique hurdles and uncertainty that at times can feel very unsettling. The current pressures in the NHS are affecting waiting and response times, proving to be an additional challenge for many people. In the wider world, we also have the ever-changing political situation, the cost of living crisis, and the Russian-Ukraine war as a backdrop of instability to our daily lives.
It’s important to acknowledge the uncertainty and worry, and know that these feelings are completely normal reactions to everything happening right now. We’ve put together some practical tips, from balancing news consumption to self-care, to help you deal with these feelings…
Curating your media consumption
In our ever-connected modern world, there’s a constant stream of information at our fingertips. While beneficial for keeping us up to date, the relentlessness of the news and our social media feeds can be overwhelming. It’s easy to take control though – if you’re finding social media too much, ‘curating’ your feeds by muting certain pages, groups or people can really help. They won’t receive any notification you’ve done this, and you can always ‘unmute’ if you wish. You can also choose to follow pages or join groups that have a more positive impact on your mental health – here at brainstrust we’re big fans of anything dog-related (rabbits and cats sometimes get a look in too)! You may find that an account dedicated to sharing pet pictures (or anything else that makes you happy) works for you.
The same goes for traditional media, like TV. Sometimes programmes might feature storylines about the brain tumour experience, and they may be triggering and bring up difficult emotions. It’s ok to switch off – being aware of your triggers and exercising boundaries is a hugely positive action to take to better care for your mind.
Distraction and relaxation
Similarly, you may find the news unsettling and anxiety-inducing. Setting limits on how much time you spend watching or listening to the news can be helpful, as can having a means of distraction and relaxation. Listening to audiobooks can take your mind off any worries – we’d recommend Listening Books if you struggle to read printed books. We also run virtual hypnotherapy sessions here at brainstrust; fantastic for helping you to tap into an inner state of relaxation. In the free, weekly group sessions, our hypnotherapist, Louise Baker, builds on neuroscience evidence to help you foster a state of calm, a resource you can draw on in stressful situations. Some people we’ve supported have also found arts and crafts useful in dealing with uncertainty, as it focuses your mind on an outward project, rather than spiralling inwards. Take a look at Lou’s, Anita’s, and Sarah’s journeys with creativity. You can sign up for our art time workshops and unleash your creative side.
Exercise and mindfulness
It’s not the magic remedy, but exercise can really help in times of uncertainty – and in many other situations. Moving your body, in whatever way you can – yoga, a swim, a run – often gives the thinking mind a break and helps relieve stress and tension. We know that having a brain tumour can make exercising difficult, but even a gentle walk, and getting out into the fresh air, can help if your mind is stuck in a loop of anxiety. More information about exercise for people living with a brain tumour can be found here.
The same goes for mindfulness. Building up the practice of being completely present and in the moment can truly improve your emotional wellbeing and reduce stress and anxiety. Check out our Mindfulness Know How to learn more.
We all know that self-care is important, but beyond the buzzword that it’s become in recent years, taking time out, and treating yourself kindly, can really help to reduce anxiety. Planning things to look forward to is a great idea, but when living with a brain tumour, the uncertainty of the day-to-day can make it difficult to think ahead. This is where being flexible with your plans can help; scheduling activities which don’t necessarily need to happen at a specific time takes away the worry of disappointment. Whether it’s planning a coffee with a good friend who understands if things might change, running a warm bath, or treating yourself at the shops, make sure to schedule in some me-time.
Help from brainstrust
We have plenty of resources on our website to help you deal with uncertainty and worry. From setting boundaries to bringing structure to your day, and, in a nutshell, tips for living with uncertainty, our Know Hows are a great place to start. The cost of living crisis may also be unsettling, so the Money Matters section of our website is worth a look. We’re here to help anyone affected by a brain tumour diagnosis, so please do reach out if you need some support.