Going through cancer is tough, not only on the patient, but on the patient’s main carer or carers, too.
Cancer Therapist Clare Reed joins us today with her top tips on how to create a happy vibe when caring for someone going through an illness, and why it is so important to do this for both the patient and the carer.
As a carer, looking after a sick spouse, family member or friend, you can help yourself and your task of caring enormously by making the environment you care in as happy as possible. Happiness is often forgotten about when someone you are looking after is in pain and are very ill or uncomfortable. It is so easy to wallow with them in a pitying mood. Silence and going about your caring quiet as a mouse doesn’t always help with pain, whereas distraction and happiness is a great pain reliever.
Here is the science bit – by creating a happy environment, you are producing in your body the chemical serotonin, which is the ‘feel good’ chemical our body produces from different triggers, such as laughter, achievement, sex, exercise, nature, sunshine, diet. Serotonin is also a natural pain reliever.
How to create a happy vibe
Restrict negative media and people
Firstly, eliminate any negative influences, skip the news and any doom and gloom radio or television reporting. Ban any political shows or debates that increase stress levels. Replace these with other media but make sure the content is upbeat and happy. Try and keep moody or energy-zapping negative relatives and friends out of the house. We all have these in our life somewhere but if they are trying to come and visit, do your best to put them off, with the patient’s cooperation. ‘Worry warts’ must be reduced.
Add in comedy
Now, I don’t know about you, but I am finding comedy shows these days aren’t really tickling my funny bone as much as older shows from decades ago, so I end up watching a lot of comedies from the past. Find out what type of comedy your patient likes and seek those types of comedies out. When I was going through my cancer treatment I started every day off with an episode of Frasier, that had me laughing in no time, and set my day up beautifully. It doesn’t have to be Frasier for you, just whatever makes your patient laugh. You can find box sets of past tv series on Amazon easily and get watching them together because two people laughing is infectious.
Get the mind distracted
Good ‘who done it?’ shows on tv are great for distracting the patient and taking their minds off themselves, whether it is Poirot or any detective series that requires the ‘little grey cells’ to be exercised, the more the better.
Chill out to good music or a book
Play happy, uplifting music for a good vibe, whatever the patient feels happy listening to. If your patient likes reading but is having trouble holding a book or has poor eyesight, then Audible books which are audio books, are great. Normally Audible gives the first book for free, so it is worth testing out to see if you both like that format. You only need your phone to download and set this app up and you can listen to the book from your phone’s speakers.
Bring in flowers and positive decorations
Encourage friends and relatives to bring entertainment with them of a happy nature or to send nice ‘thinking of you’ cards with lovely positive messages to decorate the mantlepiece/windowsills with. If your patient is allowed flowers or plants around them (check with their medical team first, as allergies may be a problem) then encourage relatives to send flowers that the patient likes or appealing pot plants to decorate the house with. Many pot plants, for example a Peace Lily, are great at detoxing the air.
Dress the plate
Make eating more of a ceremony than a chore. If your patient is on a strict medical diet then presenting it in a nice way always makes the food seem more appealing. You don’t have to go all ‘Instagram’ with this but a lovely presentation really helps to put people in a good mood for eating sometimes very boring and bland food.
Any excuse for a cappuccino
Getting out for a spot of people-watching on a nice sunny day will also lift the spirits. Take a blanket if it is chilly and bag a table outside a pavement café and watch the world go by. Watching others is a great distraction and has the added boost of producing serotonin if you are sitting in the sunshine.
The best part of all this ‘happy vibe’ building is that it will also make you feel good too. What can you improve in your caring environment today?
Find out how Clare can help you even more with your caring role with a free 20-minute pre-therapy session with her. Clare offers great therapeutic 1:1 Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions on Skype so you don’t have to travel to get help. All sessions can be booked online via her CBT website www.cbtforcancer.com. Over 40% of Clare’s clients are carers and she has brilliant tailored techniques and tools to share with you for caring success.