A Little Goes a Long Way: Keeping a Positive Attitude Can Affect Health and Cancer Recovery

Apple a Day Blog | May 29, 2014

There have been numerous studies that work to determine just how much of an impact the power of positive thinking can have on a person’s physical health. Whether that person is perfectly healthy or fighting a deadly disease, the general correlation between being “upbeat” and a person’s ability to get and stay healthy are fairly consistent.

When it comes to living with cancer, patients of all ages have long been encouraged to try and keep a positive attitude as the effects are evident as they go about their day-to-day activities and undergo the (often times) rigorous treatment schedules that have been laid out for them. It’s certainly not easy to keep a smile on your face when you’re feeling ill from treatments or enduring other adverse side effects. It can be even harder when dealing with people who simply don’t understand what you’re going through.

While there are many pitfalls that can prevent you from keeping your attitude elevated, studies have shown that people who focus on the positive things have an easier time of managing their treatment plans and enduring the side effects than those who don’t.

During the journey, there will be a number of things that will come up that threaten your happier outlook, but we have found that there are five common sources that should be watched carefully and tend to directly impact your attitude.

  1. People that just don’t understand. Most people mean well, but unless they’ve actually been through your situation, they will never truly understand. This isn’t a bad thing but it can be problematic if they say things without thinking and inadvertently hurt others through a careless remark, or if they avoid you because of their own fears. Statements like “it’ll be ok,” “Aren’t you scared,” “Some things were just meant to happen,” and “Just pick yourself up” are harmless remarks, but don’t necessarily feel that way when they’re spoken at the wrong time. Remember that they most likely didn’t intend to be callous and that they are trying their best to be supportive.  You can’t control what anyone else says to you but you can absolutely control how you react to what is said.
  2. Your own fears. Without a doubt, fear is a dangerous mental toxin that can completely take over your mind if left unchecked. Cancer patients know fears that most people never dream of and it can be overwhelming to try and face them on your own. Don’t keep fears inside. Share your fears with trained professionals and other positive people in your support network who can help you keep them in check and keep them from running your life.
  3. Exhaustion. Not getting enough sleep (and not feeling rested) can prey on a person until they crumble. One of the leading causes of anxiety is lack of sleep and not feeling rested and alert can lead to poor decisions and negatively affect your mood. Be sure that you’re getting enough rest, not only to help your treatment plan be effective, but to help your mood stay up during the process.
  4. Poor diet and nutrition. Many studies around mental and emotional health concerns have shown that a proper diet can impact your mood in positive ways. When you eat junk food your body can react negatively in a variety of ways including “low” feelings that you can’t quite shake, drowsiness, and headaches or “sugar hangovers.” Having a healthy diet full of nutritional foods can help you maintain more of a balance when it comes to your mood.
  5. Lack of exercise. Just like getting plenty of rest and eating a balanced diet can help you in numerous ways, your body craves movement and reacts accordingly whenever you exercise. You don’t need to get a personal trainer or become a physical instructor at your gym to make your body happy. Start with a walk around the block and go from there. 

Your mood is often the first line of defense you have against a health-related downward spiral. The more importance and value you put on keeping a positive attitude, the more you can benefit from it when it comes to your physical health. 

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