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Mind and emotions

Ways to look after yourself and get emotional support

What you need to know

Whether you’re living with or after leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma or any other blood cancer:

  1. It’s normal to go through lots of emotional ups and downs – Having a down day is not going to make your cancer worse.
  2. There are little things you can do to feel a bit better – Being kind to yourself, trying mindfulness or being more active can all help.
  3. You don’t have to go through this alone – We’re here for you. Join our online community or contact our Support Services Team for more support.

What can I do?

If you’re not feeling great, it might feel overwhelming to think about making changes or finding new ways to cope. But this page is about small, simple things you can do to feel better in your daily life.

Pick one thing from this page that might help, and give it a try.

  • Be kind to yourself – You’re going through a lot. It’s OK to say no to people. You don’t have to feel happy all the time either. Take time to have a quiet day to yourself, or treat yourself to something you’ll enjoy.
  • Keep up with your hobbies, or try new ones – Being active, being out in nature or being with other people – all these things can give you a break, recharge your batteries and help lift your mood. Visit our online community and look for the thread How your diagnosis made or encouraged you to take up new hobbies/interests for more ideas.
  • Find a physical activity that you enjoy – Whether it’s walking, gardening, yoga or golf, physical activity is good for your mental health. It can help you sleep better, releases feel-good hormones and help manage stress, anxiety and depression. Build up gradually and pace yourself.
  • Be creative – Being creative takes you out of your head and into the moment. Try drawing, painting, or listening to music. You don’t have to be talented, just find something you enjoy!
  • Having a sense of purpose – It could be your work, being with your kids or grandkids, or volunteering...What gives your life meaning and gives you that spark?
  • Start a diary – You can record your goals, things you've achieved, things that have helped you, and how you're feeling. Order your diary and see if it helps.
Donna, who's being treated for follicular lymphoma, with her family

Donna's story

My lightbulb moment with anxiety

Donna's story

Relaxation and breathing exercises

Mindfulness meditation can decrease worry or stress, relax you, and help you get a better night’s sleep. It can also help reduce anxiety and depression in people with cancer. Anyone can try mindfulness – it’s not about clearing your mind and you don’t need any special skills to give it a go.

Watch our videos to join Jane, Ann, Mel and Katie, who are all living with or in remission from blood cancer, in some guided mindfulness meditations. Learn some breathing exercises and ways to connect to your body, to help you relax and reduce anxiety.

I’ve found ways to relax – anything that brings the heart rate down, that calms you: meditation, visualisation, and a lot of mindfulness.

- Donna, 52

Calm your mind with this five-minute guided breathing space meditation.

Join Jane, Ann, Mel and Katie, who are all living with or after blood cancer, in this guided breathing meditation.

Join Jane, Ann, Mel and Katie, who are all living with or after blood cancer, in this guided body scan mediation.

Family and friends

Living with blood cancer can also have a big emotional impact on those around you. You might feel pressure to hold it all together and try and support your loved ones. This can be a struggle if you’re not feeling great either.

Relieve some of this pressure by directing those close to you to our support for people who know someone with blood cancer. The ideas on communication, support and self-care will help them and may be useful for you as well.

Paul living with blood cancer taking some time out

Paul's story

How I've adjusted to life with leukaemia

Paul's story

Tools and support

It’s OK to ask for help – many people with blood cancer have told us they need more support. Speak to your healthcare team as a starting point.

Research shows getting psychological support including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be helpful for people with cancer. Ask your GP, or self-refer online on the NHS website in England or through Breathing Space in Scotland.

The NHS also recommend a variety of different apps to support your mental health, including a mindfulness course.

Janssen-Cilag Ltd has supported Blood Cancer UK with funding for the production of this web page and others within the ‘Living well’ section. It had no influence over the content.

Jacqueline, in remission from DLBCL, out walking with a friend

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