A big thank you to Tom Dyer, ACTivate Your Life - Affected by Cancer Lead for Tenovus Cancer Care for allowing us to share this blog. Tom wrote this article for World Mental Health Day, but the message is applicable every day. Tom is a regular vlogger so if you want more of his motivational messages, check him out on Instagram here.
The focus of this blog is acceptance. The idea being to help you shift your perspective and help you value you what you have.
What is mental health?
We all have mental health. Sometimes it looks after us and keeps us content and jolly, maybe even happy and joyous! But sometimes, or most time for some people, it makes us feel low, depressed, anxious and constantly embarrassed.
Some of these lower thoughts come from comparing ourselves to other people and other things that are going on around. “I wish I looked like him,” “I wish was as athletic as she is,” “Why can’t I sing like that?” or “I wish I had what they had.”
We might not even be aware that we’re having these thoughts or that if we are, that they’re damaging to our health and are leading us to feel lonely.
ACTivate Your Life – Affected By Cancer is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and therefore acceptance is a key component of what we want you to feel. This isn’t just acceptance of others or the situations we find ourselves in but also, and crucially, acceptance of you.
Imagine you see two pillars in front you. One of them is magnificent, solid, white pillar that grows tall into the sky. It looks like something the Greek Gods would have made. On top of this tower is a golden lightning bolt and a crown. You want this pillar – this pillar is awesome!
The pillar next to it is much smaller, it’s about the same height as you. It wobbles from time to time and has lots of cracks in it. It looks unsteady, like if something was to knock into it, it would crumble and fall down. On top of it is just a little seed. You don’t want this pillar. But this pillar is yours.
You spend all of your time looking up at the great white pillar and not caring for your pillar. You think to yourself what good is a seed? I want a gold lightning bolt and a crown. That pillar looks amazing and I’m stuck with a hunk of junk. But the great white pillar is not yours.
Accepting that you don’t have something, or accepting yourself can be very difficult things to come to terms with. But that little you-size pillar is yours. You can craft and mend it anyway you like. You don’t have to look out toward the great pillar and think what if? You can start to tend to your pillar by nurturing it; I’ve heard that filling the cracks with things you really value makes it incredibly strong and bright.
That seed that doesn’t look like much on top, but it’s something you can plant! That one idea which will spawn into other ideas. And going through with ideas will help you fill more cracks in your pillar, and add to your pillar and before you know, without even focusing on the neighbouring great white pillar, you’ve got your own perfectly formed pillar! It still might not be as tall as the great white one, or as strong, but it’s yours, and you built it by accepting that you didn’t need to focus on the great white pillar that was never yours, and accepted you for who you are and found the tools necessary to build your own pillar.
And that’s something to be very proud of.
If you have difficulty with accepting who you are and don’t understand what your values are, and how they can help you keep your pillar repaired, ACTivate Your Life – Affected By Cancer will help, not just with a cancer experience but in every aspect of life.
We ask participants to complete a questionnaire before and after the course, and we’ve been able to show that people who attend ACTivate Your Life – Affected By Cancer sessions reduce their depression scores by 38%, decrease their anxiety scores by 31% and increase their overall wellbeing scores by 18%.
Accept who you are, without comparing yourself to others, and see yourself thrive being your truest you.
ACTivate Your Life - Affected by Cancer is no longer provided by Tenovus Cancer Care, but Public Health Wales offer a free, online ACTivate Your Life programme which we highly recommend.
CancerPal sells a wide range of products that have been recommended to help ease the stress and anxiety associated with a cancer diagnosis as well as a range of Wellbeing Care Boxes.