It was Friday the 13th and I sat at my doctor’s office, holding my breath waiting for my biopsy results.
As soon as she walked in the room, I knew it wasn’t good news.
“You have cancer.” She said quietly.
With those 3 words, my world got turned upside down.
I was a single mum with a 15 year old son. I had my own website design business and I was working 6-7 days a week.
I had every intention of taking time off … one day. But I had to pay the bills plus I enjoyed what I did. So I didn’t see any harm in working long hours.
But I guess life had a different plan for me and forced me to take time out. It didn’t even give me time to prepare.
Friday I got the news.
Tuesday I met with my surgeon.
Thursday I had surgery.
Then as soon as I recovered from surgery it was off for chemo … 3 months of barely being able to stand up. This was followed by 6 weeks of daily radiation.
For the first time in my life I was forced to take care of myself first. To find balance between work and self-care. I had to learn how to take care of my needs first. These are some of the things I learnt as I went through my cancer journey:
Set Reasonable and Realistic Goals
I was used to working until I could barely stand up. But undergoing treatments I knew I couldn’t keep up my work schedule, so I decided to ease off and set realistic goals.
I broke down bigger tasks into smaller, more manageable steps so as not to get overwhelmed.
And as I ticked things off on my list, I felt like I achieved something.
Doing this helped me avoid overwhelm, stress and unnecessary pressure.
Sometimes, the world throws us curve balls. To navigate these potentially trying situations, it helps to remain flexible instead of being stuck in a certain way of thinking or being.
For me, it meant being flexible with time. I could only work when I was feeling ok, which meant I didn’t maintain regular work hours. If I was rested and felt good, I would work at 3am. Luckily my work was flexible enough to allow me to do that.
Prioritize Your Tasks
It can be challenging when your to do list is growing longer by the second and it all seems so overwhelming.
Instead of staring helplessly at a long list of ‘to do’s’, focus on the ones that are more important and tackle them first.
Sometimes we do things that are easy to do instead of what is important to do. And there is a big difference.
This was a big realization for me. I only had limited amounts of energy and I had to invest that into things that needed to get done. And having a spotless kitchen was not one of the priorities
Take Time for Yourself
Taking time for yourself is an invaluable investment that we should all do regularly – think of it as topping up your tank, so you can take on life’s challenges with gusto.
Whether you choose an activity designed to keep your body in shape, something that refreshes your outlook on life or just a chance to relax with a favourite book or TV show.
Even taking 30 minutes to recharge your batteries can go a long way to your state of mind and productivity.
Create a Support System
Developing a support system is key to maintaining emotional and physical well-being.
Surrounding yourself with positive people who encourage you, provide support and offer helpful advice when facing challenges can be invaluable in navigating life.
Additionally, having trusted professionals like doctors and therapists to rely on can help promote a healthy mental attitude and create an overall sense of balance and security.
This was a biggie for me. I was used to being self-reliant and I very rarely asked for help. But being unable to move for weeks at a time, life taught me to lean on others.
Initially I found it really difficult to ask for help, but when I saw how happy people were to lend a hand, it became a lot easier.
Technology can be an amazing tool to help you achieve life balance that keeps all the important aspects of your life in harmony. For example:
- Smartphone apps to help remind you to take breaks and practice self-care
- Automated calendar reminders for important appointments and deadlines
- Online video conferencing tools for convenient business meetings
- Wearable fitness trackers and smart watches that can monitor your fitness levels and help create achievable goals for a healthier life balance
- Cloud storage solutions to store important documents and files safely for easy access at any time of the day, no matter where you are located geographically
- Online budgeting tools that make managing your finances simpler and more efficient, without sacrificing your precious leisure time or mental well-being in the process!
For me having a well-functioning website was a lifesaver. Instead of spending hours on the phone talking to clients I could refer them to a resource on my site. I was also able to hold zoom meetings at a time when I felt well enough.
Have something to look forward to
Having something to look forward to can be a great source of motivation when life gets tough. It can be as simple as anticipating a good meal at the end of the day or planning for an upcoming holiday – anything that helps clear away your worries and keeps you focused on the positive.
While going through chemo, a friend promised me we would go to Hawaii with our kids once I finished my treatments.
This was a huge lifeline. Instead of thinking about my treatments, I focused on getting better and thought about all the exciting things we would do on our holidays.
And sure enough, 8 months after finishing my treatments we were bound for Honolulu, for one of the best holidays.
Finding the right balance in life is a journey. It takes time, effort and dedication to identify what areas of your life need more focus, and then commit to making changes that will result in a healthier lifestyle. Technology can be an incredible asset to help you achieve this goal by taking some of the burden away so you can have more time for yourself. With hard work and dedication, leveraging technology can make it easier to find that elusive balance of working hard but playing even harder.