Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Step 2: How to be Happy

“If you want to be happy, be.”  Leo Tolstoy (1910)
Did you know being an optimist is one of the most significant predictors of how happy and healthy you are?  So, if you tend to be a ‘gal’ who sees her glass half empty rather than half full, learning to be more optimistic could greatly benefit your health and well being – putting you on the road to looking good and feeling great.

A National Academy of Sciences study found that depression is common in breast cancer patients and it usually develops in the first three months after diagnosis. It’s important to seek help from your health care team if you are experiencing symptoms of stress or sadness but there are things you can do too. Following a healthy lifestyle is one way but it's also about developing a positive outlook. 

The great news is that becoming more optimistic is a habit you can learn.  How? By consciously taking charge of the hundreds of ‘what ifs’ inside your head and turning negative thoughts into positive ones. 

Take a moment to consider your own thoughts – are there more negative ones that positive?  Whether it’s worrying about a treatment, saying the wrong thing, feeling overweight – together these negative thoughts are energy drains with the power to ruin your day. 
Aside from making the decision to be optimistic and telling yourself you will cope with the treatment, you will say the right thing, you will loose weight – there are certain daily habits you can master to temper those negative thoughts.  Here’s 3 simple ideas you could try immediately!
1.   For a great mood lifter when you first wake up, set your intention for the day of whether you want to be happy, calm or stress-free.  Reminding yourself that you want to be ‘stress-free’ means you’re less likely to let others push their stress on to you later.

2.   Write a statement or mantra of how you want to feel.  It’s best if you keep it short and simple, written in positive language that makes you feel uplifted.  So rather than a statement like: “Today is going to be stressful,”  “I need to lose weight," try something like: “I feel good today and can deal with anything!”  “I am a calm and confident person,”  “I will only eat light and healthy food.”  Write your statements out and put them where you can easily see them to keep your positive thoughts in mind - maybe the fridge door, your diary or in your handbag.

3.   Do more things you enjoy.  Spend more time with friends who make you feel good and cut down time spent with negative people.  Start filling your diary with small treats and fun things to do.  It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate.  Start by calling a friend and having a good old girlie chat.  Another idea to help tune out negative influences might be to try switching off the news for a while or at least not watching it late in the evening. 
So is being an optimist about going round with a silly grin on your face and pretending everything is fine?  The answer of course is no! 

It's about becoming more aware of your thoughts and the impact these have on your energy and making the effort to change negative thoughts into positive ones.  After a month or so of using the visual reminders of your positive statements, you’ll find yourself naturally moving towards more positive people, you’ll learn to appreciate what you’ve got and you’ll learn to take more control of your thoughts.

As Shakespeare said: “Nothing is bad or good, but thinking makes it so.” 
Instead of dwelling on negative possibilities, telling yourself you don’t look good, you’re not going to get everything done or it’s going to be a difficult day, find reasons to justify positive outcomes instead.  So when doubts creep in,  remind yourself to wear something bright and cheerful that makes you feel good, tell yourself you’ve managed to get things done before when you put your mind to it and there’s no evidence it’s going to be a bad day.
The joy of learning to be optimistic is that the changes you make don’t have to be huge. But added up they can make a big difference.  You’ll find people will start paying you compliments  "you look good today, you look happy" – all great mood lifters. For most of us, developing a more optimistic outlook isn’t about having a personality transplant – it’s about having more fun.  So get started – you owe it to yourself! J

Look out for Step Three: How to photoshop your self image.  We'll be offering some post-mastectomy fashion tips and suggesting ways you can learn to create a positive self image to enhance your self confidence.

Post us your comments!  We’d love to hear how you’re getting on trying our suggestions and it would be great to share your ideas with other ladies too!  

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Step 1: Looking After You

Looking fabulous on the outside, means feeling good on the inside too. This blog aims to inspire women who’ve had breast cancer to look good and feel great! 
This is the first in a series of posts, offering post-mastectomy fashion ideas to help you dress for success, as well as suggesting practical tips for improving your wellbeing and enhancing confidence and self esteem.
Look After You! Sounds simple doesn’t it? Yet with everyday distractions, we sometimes forget to make time for the little things that make us feel and look good! Here's some easy things you could start doing now.....
      Wear what makes you happy! What you wear influences how you feel so become more aware of which clothes and colours make you feel good. Make a habit of wearing a colour you feel good in or something you really like, whether it’s a scarf, a favourite piece of clothing or jewellery.  Anything that gives you a boost!  In future posts we’ll look at style tips for different body shapes and what other ladies have said works for them post mastectomy. 
      Eat Well - We are what we eat!  Are there better ways you could be nourishing your body, like cutting down on junk food, alcohol or caffeine?  Drink more water!  Eight glasses a day will give your body an enormous health boost.  Here’s some suggestions for healthy eating during and after treatment by the Breast Cancer Care Organisation.

     “Me Time” - Find time for exercise and doing something you enjoy. With spring finally here, a regular walk in the park or a bit of gardening can do wonders.  Swimming is an excellent all rounder. Ask a friend to join you to keep you motivated.  Here’s what Macmillan Cancer Support say about the health benefits of exercise during and after cancer treatment. Follow any medical advice you’ve been given and wear a good supporting post-mastectomy bra if you’re planning more vigorous exercise.

      Have Fun!  Woody Allen once said, ‘Most of the time I have no fun.  The rest of the time I have no fun at all.’ If this sounds like you, make some changes. Do things that give you a real sense of joy and happiness – maybe spending quality time with loved ones, seeing friends you really enjoy being with. Make time for hobbies and interests and planning things you’ll enjoy and can look forward to.

Feeling Great!
      Feelings greatly impact on your levels of energy, motivation and self confidence. The good news is you can learn to choose how you feel and use this to improve your wellbeing!

Try these simple strategies and see what a difference they make to how you feel:

1.  Identify 3 simple things you will start doing today to improve your physical, mental or emotional wellbeing. Use the suggestions above to help kick start your plan of action.

2.  It may sound trite but counting your blessings is a good habit to get into. At the end of each day, maybe just before you go to bed, reflect on the good things in your daily life, how ever small. If you can find time to jot your thoughts down, even better! Here's some things you may want to reflect on to get you started:

      - What are the things about today that made you feel happy?
- What are you proud of doing today?
- Who are the people and things in your day that you love and why?
- What aspects about today may not be quite right but you plan to change?
- What new things have you learned today?

Keeping a journal of your thoughts helps build self confidence and a greater awareness of what makes you happy and things you have achieved. It can have great therapeutic benefits too. - Comfort Through Journaling

Every small change you make to positively improve your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing can have long term health benefits.  So, forget about not being in the mood, too tired or having no energy – start taking those important steps and start looking after YOU!

Post us your comments! We'd love to hear how you're getting on trying our suggestions and it would be great to share your ideas with other ladies too!

Look out for our next post - Step Two: How to Be Happy. Find out how to achieve that elusive 'glass half full' feeling and how learning to be optimistic can be seriously good for your health!