Recovery after a bone marrow or cord blood transplant is more than just a physical process. It also affects you mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Practicing your preferred coping style to manage stress can help support healing as well as improve your quality of life.
Different people have different coping styles.
Some people are fighters. Some people thrive on maintaining a positive attitude. Others take comfort in accepting their situation as it is. Some release stress by expressing their hopelessness and despair.
Some people use a consistent coping style but most people rely on a variety of strategies. You might be upbeat one day, and need to vent the next.
Trust your instincts and pay attention to what works best for you.
Well-meaning family and friends who urge you to simply "look on the bright side" or "be more positive," might actually add to your stress if "being positive" is not the style that is working for you at that time. Let people know what you need from them in terms of emotional support.
Many people benefit from talking about their feelings with family, friends, other survivors or a counselor. Expressing your feelings can make it easier to let the feelings go. You might also consider participating in an online support group to get feedback from other people who understand your situation.
If you want to explore your feelings, but it's hard for you to talk about your problems, you might consider writing them down. You can keep it private, or share it with someone you trust.
Some people prefer to process their feelings quietly, on their own. For them, focusing on anxieties or sharing them with others only increases the negative feelings. If you prefer to process feelings on your own, people with a different style might worry that you are in denial or accuse you of "bottling up" your feelings. You might remind them that there are different ways to cope, and reassure them that your method works for you.
Regardless of your coping style, there are common things you can do to promote healing and improve your quality of life.
- Eat well, exercise as much as you can and rest when you need to. Even if you do not feel like exercising or eating, keep in mind that every little bit helps, and the more you can make yourself do, the more you will benefit.
- Energize yourself with activities you enjoy. Anything that relaxes you and that you enjoy can be beneficial. If your temporary restrictions stop you from doing your favorite activities, explore new interests and develop new skills.
- Set a goal for yourself to learn one new activity or explore one new interest during your first three months at home. Encourage a family member or friend to try a new interest with you. Remember your safety precautions when exploring new activities, and check with your medical team if you have any questions.