Give Encouragement, Be Positive
People going through treatment for a life-threatening illness may understandably focus their attention on their problems. As a result, the quality of their life may suffer. All this may lead to the person withdrawing from the people and activities they normally enjoy, and expressing negative feelings toward themselves, others and their situation.
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Protection Against Depression
During treatment it is important to give encouragement and provide a positive focus through words and activities. This helps to prevent depression for both the caregiver and person going through treatment.
Pleasant, satisfying experiences help people cope with illness and treatment. Having fun makes people feel better physically and emotionally. When people regularly do things they enjoy, they keep a positive outlook on life and are less likely to become depressed.
One of the most important things a caregiver can do for the person going through treatment is to help that person find a balance between his or her problems and the enjoyable things in life. An important goal for you and the person you are caring for is to arrange as many pleasant, positive experiences as possible even during the time spent in the hospital and clinic.
Persons caring for someone with cancer can also become preoccupied with their problems. Remember to do things you enjoy, in order to maintain a positive outlook. Caregivers who think only about the needs and problems of the patient are more likely to become upset and discouraged. By renewing yourself, you are able to keep caring for your loved one. Check out further resources on relief and relaxation or spiritual health.
If the person going through BMT feels that it is impossible for him or her to have any positive experiences, and, at the same time, is feeling sad and depressed, then professional help is needed.
You can provide support through your words, actions and activities. Below are some examples of positive experiences that are important in maintaining good quality of life and in helping prevent depression:
Enjoyable Activities With Other People:
- Talking about sports (etc.) with a friend
- Shopping with a friend
- Going to the movies with the family
- Calling a friend on the phone
- Playing cards with a friend
- Playing with children
- Gossiping with friends
- Going for a drive with a friend
Activities that Give a Sense of Accomplishment:
- Cooking a meal
- Engaging in a hobby
- Solving a crossword puzzle
- Writing a letter
- Talking to someone else who needs a friend
- Playing a musical instrument
- Writing a poem
Activities that Make You Feel Good:
- Watching a favorite movie (funny) or TV program
- Taking a ride in a scenic area
- Listening to a favorite kind of music
- Reading a favorite magazine
- Taking a walk
- Hugging someone you love
- Eating a special food
- Saying a prayer
- Playing with a pet
- Going to a religious service
- Reading a joke book
In addition to the suggestions above, bring attention to the positive things that happen each day and arrange for pleasant activities as much as possible
In the Moment Support
Talk about pleasant experiences as they happen during the day. It is easy to think just about unpleasant experiences when you are under stress. This can make you and the person you care for depressed. Make a point of noticing and talking about pleasant things as they happen; this helps to keep a balance between pleasant and unpleasant experiences.
Sometimes as caregivers or persons going through treatment we say things to ourselves or others that we wouldn't say normally. It may be how we feel in the moment, but it is not helpful in encouraging or maintaining a positive focus. Below are some common expressions of and responses to these feelings.
"No activity is pleasant anymore."
Response: No matter how depressed or upset someone is, there are always some activities and thoughts that are pleasant. Notice the good things that happen each day, even if they are small. Try different activities until you find something pleasurable. Remember if a person has seemed depressed for several weeks, they may need professional help.
"When you are sick, a lot of bad things happen and you can't do anything about them."
Response: There are ways to balance your positive and negative experiences. Encourage a person to focus on what can be done and praise them for the progress or efforts that have been made.
"For a caregiver, there are so many problems to deal with that one can't find time for pleasant activities."
Response: Family caregivers need to continue enjoyable activities as much as the person going through treatment. This is especially important for people who are under stress. Be an example to the person you are caring for by encouraging them through your continued activity and positive focus.
"As a caregiver, I feel guilty if I enjoy myself when the person I'm caring for feels sick and needs my help."
Response: You will be a better caregiver if you are in good spirits and less stressed.. Scheduling pleasant experiences for yourself is part of being a good caregiver.
"I've tried everything and nothing seems to be working."
Response: Involve others by asking them for ideas and creativity. Continue to give encouragement, praise and patience to the person going through treatment and yourself.
Support At the End of the Day
Set aside a special time each evening when you and the person with cancer talk about the good things that happened that day. Think back over the day and talk about everything that was pleasant. Be sure to include all three categories: pleasant things that happened with other people, activities that gave a sense of pride and accomplishment and activities that made you (and the person you care for) feel good.
Examples of positive moments you can notice:
- Enjoyable things that happened with other people: Jerry said I looked good today; Martha went out of her way to get my medicine; the nurse was very understanding about how I felt; Tom did the dishes without complaining; Mary and I had a good talk; Bill and I talked about the old days.
- Activities that gave a sense of accomplishment: I beat Charlie at chess; I finished knitting the arm to the sweater; I cleaned out my bureau drawers; I balanced my checkbook; I walked farther than I did yesterday.
- Activities that make me feel good: I saw a robin; I enjoyed the shadows that the sun made coming through my window; I really laughed at the old Lucy show rerun; I encouraged Bill who was feeling down today.
Make lists of pleasant experiences. Keep these lists and read them over from time to time to remind you about the good things in life. Sometimes it helps to think of activities that have been pleasant and enjoyable in the past. Decide what part of the activities the person going through treatment can do now. If doing the activity is possible (such as playing a sport), is there a part he or she can still engage in? Is there a similar activity that she can do? Can he talk about how to do that activity when the treatment is over?
Modified Activity Ideas
- Shopping with friends—Go through catalogs with a friend or shop on the Internet
- Watch son or grandson play baseball—Watch baseball on TV with son or grandson
- Going to a friend's home to play cards—Invite friend to come play cards with you
- Spring cleaning—Clean or rearrange your room
- Mowing the lawn—Arrange with someone to mow the grass for you
- Sailing—Build a model sailboat
- Going out to hear music—Play a favorite CD
- Go visit relatives from out of town—Go through picture albums and maybe call them on the phone
- Go to the movie with a friend—Invite friend to come watch a video
Make a list of your favorite activities, download and use the activity sheet (PDF).
Words of Encouragement
Ongoing words of encouragement and praise are always appreciated and help to support a positive experience. Below are some expressions of encouragement for your child or for caregivers.
You're on the right track now!
You're doing a great job!
Now you've figured it out.
You did a lot of work today.
Now you have the hang of it.
That's the way!
You're really going to town.
You're doing fine.
Now you have it.
That's coming along nicely.
You did it that time!
You outdid yourself today.
Good job, (name of child).
That's the best you've ever done.
That's really nice.
Keep up the good work.
Good for you!
That's very much better.
You make it look easy.
I've never seen anyone do it better.
You're doing much better today.
Way to go!
You're getting better everyday.
I knew you could do it!
Keep working on it; you're getting better.
You're doing beautifully.
You're really working hard today.
That's the way to do it!
Keep on trying.
You're the best!
Nothing can stop you now!
You've got it made.
You're very good at that.
You certainly did well today.
I'm very proud of you.
You're learning fast.
You've just about got it.
I'm happy to see you working like that.
I'm proud of the way you worked today.
That's the right way to do it.
You're really learning a lot.
That's better than ever.
That's quite an improvement.
That kind of work makes me very happy.
Now you've figured it out!
That's not half bad!
You've got your brain in gear today.
You figured it out fast.
You're really improving.
I think you've got it now.
Well, look at you go!
You've got that down pat.
I like that.
Couldn't have done it better myself.
Now that's what I call a fine job.
You did that very well.
That was first-class work.
That's the best ever!
You haven't missed a thing.
It's a pleasure to teach you when you work like that.
You really make my job fun.
You've just about mastered that.
One more time and you'll have it.
You must have been practicing!
You make me very proud.
It makes me proud just to see you trying.
I love you!
Estas haciendo buen trabajo.
Estas haciendo buen trabajo.
Hiciste mucho trabajo hoy.
Ahora lo tienes correcto.
Ahora sabes manejarlo.
Estas trabajando muy duro.
Estas haciendo buen trabajo.
Ahora lo tienes.
Esto estas haciendo muy bien.
Lo hiciste correcto.
Te aventaste bien hoy.
Muy bien (nombre de nino).
Es lo mejor que has hecho.
Esta muy bueno.
Continua haciendo buen trabajo.
Que buena idea!
Se parece facil cuando tu lo haces.
Nunca he visto alguien hacerlo mejor.
Estas haciendo mucho mejor hoy.
No esta mal.
Cada dia haces mejor trabajo.
Sabia que lo podia hacer.
Sigue trabajando. Esta mejor.
Que buen trabajo estas haciendo.
Estas trabajando mucho hoy.
Asi se hace.
Eres lo/la mejor!
Nada te puede parar ahora.
La tienes hecha.
Lo haces muy bien.
Tu hiciste muy bien hoy.
Me siento muy orgulloso/a de ti.
Estas aprendiendo rapidamente!
Casi lo tienes terminado.
Me gusta verte trabajando asi.
Estoy orgulloso/a de como trabajaste hoy.
Asi es la manera correcto de hacerlo.
Estas aprendiendo mucho.
Esta mejor que nunca.
Esta mucho mejor.
Este tipo de trabajo me hace muy feliz.
Ahora ya te la figuraste.
No esta mal.
Tienes la cabeza trabajando bien hoy.
Lo averiguaste muy rapido.
Estas mejorando mucho.
Creo que ya lo tienes perfecto.
Bueno, mira como vas.
Lo tienes perfecto.
Me gusta esto.
Yo no lo habia podido hacer mejor.
Eso es lo que llamo yo un buen tabajo.
Lo hiciste muy bien.
Hiciste un trabajo de primera clase.
Lo hiciste mejor que nunca.
Te acordaste! Muy bien!
No has olvidado nada.
Es un placer ensenarte cuando trabajas asi.
Trabajar contigo es muy divertido.
Ya eres maestro/a de esto.
Una vez mas y tu lo tienes.
Parece que has estado practicando.
Me haces sentir muy orgulloso/a de ti.
Que orgulloso/a me siento al verte trabajando asi.