“You’re told you have cancer,” Hubby would say when we shared our story across the country. “You’re told you’re probably going to die of cancer. You worry about your family. You worry about keeping your job. Keeping your insurance. And then those big bills start coming in.”

After a pause, Hubby would continue in his deadpan way: “And then your doctor says, ‘You should probably reduce your stress.’”

Here is where the audience would erupt at the absurdity of the statement.




Photo credit: Pixabay

Most of us understand that managing stress is critical for our overall health. So how do you reduce the stress of cancer and widowhood?

Here are 7 ways that were/are effective for us:

1. Get your sleep, your veggies and your exercise. Take good care of yourself. A) Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night. If you’re having trouble sleeping, consider seeing a sleep specialist. B) Add more veggies, fruits, whole grains and legumes to your diet. And eventually eliminate unhealthy fats and sugars. C) Incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle. This from an article entitled “Cancer caregivers: 4 tips to reduce stress” by Heather Valladarez:

Even a 20-minute walk each day can help increase your energy level, reduce your stress, and help alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety.

2. Get plugged into community. Don’t try to go it alone. Social interactions lift our spirits and remind us that we’re not alone in our challenges.

3. Get outdoors. Spending time in nature has been shown to lower stress levels. Psychologist Judith Heerwagon says this in a Huffington Post article “Here’s Proof Going Outside Makes You Healthier“:

There’s something about being in a natural setting that shows clear evidence of stress reduction, including physiological evidence — like lower heart rate.

4. Get inspired. Get lost in a stirring podcast, book or movie. Hubby and I enjoyed true-life David-and-Goliath stories. One of our favorites was Miracle, starring Kurt Russell as the coach who put together a ragtag team of college hockey players and went up against the indomitable USSR team at the 1980 Olympics.

5. Get busy living in the present. Despite ongoing, spread-of-cancer news, Hubby and I learned to pay attention to all the good that was going on in the moment. And there was always much good when we looked for it.

6. Get a gratitude list started. It’s powerful to keep a written list. My niece bought a purse-sized travel book with empty lined pages. And I’m well on my way to listing one thousand things for which I’m grateful (see One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp).

7. Get a dog. Last week I dog-sat. Sadie, an aging lab. In return for feeding her, she served as watchdog.


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She fetched the newspaper.

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And she kept me entertained.


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Pretty sure I was getting the better end of this deal.

There’s something ridiculously stress-reducing about ruffling a dog’s fur as he/she looks deep into your eyes with unswerving love.

Hubby admitted that managing stress was challenging. “Especially,” he’d say, “when you have a wife who makes you stand up in front of people and talk.”

Ah, this was a man who kept me laughing (oh, and hey, laughter should be #8 on this list, right?).

How about you? Use the comments section below to tell me an effective way you managed stress.


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