Summer is tricky at the best of times. We’re emerging from COVID still –there are new variants doing the rounds, weather is unpredictable (melting one minute, seeking out jumpers and coats the next). The queues! Airports, seaports, motorways – trying to reach a destination anywhere can very quickly turn into a reason NOT to travel. Social media is saturated with pictures of friends and family on their hols, which can generate a Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). And then of course, there is living with a brain tumour diagnosis.
Whether you are a patient or a caregiver, this adds a whole different layer of complexity, which includes uncertainty (and at a basic level – travel insurance). It can mean that you’ve made decision to scale back plans, or not to go away at all. And this, in turn, can engender a range of feelings which don’t settle well. It can make you feel resentful, angry with yourself for letting the diagnosis to define what you do, and guilty for letting others down.
So what to do?
Firstly, we need to acknowledge that this summer it is a bigger step. The pandemic took away so many of the triggers, removing free will, so we may have felt ‘lockdown relief’. Imposed restrictions brought a slower pace, a sense of calm, of being given time. These feelings were legitimised. And so we became used to living in a smaller world.
Now though, expectations have shifted. We are expected to be more social, to take holidays, we find ourselves reigniting social rhythms and routines. There is pressure to make up for the time we have lost to COVID-19. Even people who aren’t living with a brain tumour diagnosis are feeling apprehensive about activities which were previously comfortable and second nature.
How do you deal with the negative chatter that can undermine your summer and ability to enjoy yourself, even if your decision is to sit it out in your back garden? You need to understand the unhelpful patterns of thought, feeling and behaviour. Remember – we don’t have to believe everything we think. When we are anxious, our rational thought disappears.
So our anxiety/anger/guilt – whatever the negative feeling – takes over and catastrophises and magnifies the negative thoughts that we have. Just acknowledging this helps – telling ourselves that these thoughts are irrational is a good start. It allows us to question and manage these thoughts rather than accepting them as fact.
But it isn’t enough. We also need to tap into some of the relaxation techniques that we’ve learnt to develop. Using these techniques calms the automatic but unnecessary feelings that we experience; our negative chatter is being calmed by our rational brain, rather than the other way around. If these are new to you then have a look at our webinar programme – we have some super events focused on reducing anxiety and managing the physical symptoms. You can also find out more about mindfulness and acceptance here.
Whatever you do – set some goals for YOUR summer. And dance in the moment.
By signing up to our mailing list, you will receive all the latest news, events and resources straight to your inbox – helping make sure you are as well resourced and as informed as possible.