Take Care of Yourself

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Attend to Your Emotional and Physical Health

Monitor your energy level and find ways to re-charge.

Doing this might feel selfish, but it's crucial. If you become depleted and exhausted, you will feel worse and be less effective in helping your partner and family. Try to continue to do at least a few things that give you pleasure and you know restore your energy. Taking a break, such as planning an afternoon away, exercising, or requesting support from friends or professionals, may all be useful.

If you start to feel so tired or distressed that you have trouble functioning, consider calling your doctor to discuss your situation. You might also talk with a social worker or other clinician who is part of your partner's treatment team if you feel you are being stretched too thin. These professionals are there for you, too, and can provide emotional support and help with practical problem-solving.

Sleep is very important — it affects both your physical and emotional health.

If you have trouble sleeping for more than a few days, you may find that you are less energetic and have trouble concentrating. Tired people tend to become more easily distressed and irritated, and may also be more likely to get sick.

Many people have trouble sleeping during stressful periods. If this is true for you, tell your doctor. He or she can discuss different ways to address this problem, perhaps by changing certain sleep routines, helping you manage stress by asking for additional support, or giving you some medication that will help you sleep.

Remember that friends and family will want to support you, but they may be focused on the patient.

As a result, they may be unaware of your needs or unclear about how to help. Probably, you will have to ask for what you need. This can be surprisingly difficult, especially when you need the help the most.

But try to do it anyway. Think about those you can rely on for practical advice, emotional support, or encouragement. Think through how you might ask, and try to be clear about what you are asking for: advice, guidance, support, problem solving, specific assistance, or maybe simply someone who will listen as you talk.

You may experience feelings, thoughts, or situations that you cannot comfortably talk about with friends or family.

Or maybe there is no one available to help in this way. In this case, meeting with a therapist, social worker, or other professional who is familiar with cancer-related issues may be of enormous help. Most hospitals have appropriate professionals on staff, or will know others in the community who could meet with you. Don't hesitate to ask the treatment team, or your own doctor, for a referral.