The following suggestions won’t all work for everyone, but you may find it helpful to try them. You may find that some of the ideas work well for you, even though you didn’t expect them to make a difference.
When you’re feeling stressed and anxious, family and friends can be a great support. You may have been advised to stay at home and reduce face-to-face contact, which can be isolating and lonely. It’s important to try to stay connected to people in other ways, for example:
- phone calls
- video calls – many video calling apps will allow you to speak to lots of people at the same time
- text messages.
Talking about how you feel with those close to you may help you cope with things. Or you could talk to someone who understands what you’re going through on our online community, through our one-to-one support service, or in a support group. Many support groups are holding meetings online at the moment.
Telephone friendship services
Most people will have felt lonely at some point during this pandemic. As you get older your social network may become smaller. This means that people in later life are especially vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness. You may be simply missing the enjoyment of a regular conversation, and just want a friendly chat with someone.
Telephone friendship services allow you to enjoy a chat with someone from the comfort of your home. Age UK runs a telephone friendship service – for more information, visit the Age UK website.
I was very anxious, but I spoke to the nurse and she made me feel very reassured. I'm in a much happier state now.
Set limits for news and social media
It’s important to stay informed during this time. But the constant stream of media updates and news reports about coronavirus could cause distress and worry. It’s important to find a balance and use reliable sources to get your news and stay informed.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the news, you may want to limit the number of times you check the news to once or twice a day.
On social media, people may share their own beliefs and worries. You may find yourself taking on other people’s worries, increasing your own levels of stress and anxiety. Take a break. Limiting the time you spend on social media may help you feel more in control.
If you’re finding the coverage of coronavirus too much, talk about your concerns with a loved one. You may be unsure about what information applies to you, particularly if you’re not sure whether you’re at high risk from coronavirus. Talk to your GP or hospital doctor or call our Specialist Nurses.
Get enough sleep
Sleep plays a big role in mental health, mood and wellbeing. During this pandemic you may have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep. Stress and anxiety can cause sleep problems, but there are things you can do to help. These include:
- taking some time before bed to read or meditate
- trying breathing exercises
- keeping a good sleep routine – going to bed and getting up at around the same time each day
- listening to relaxing music or an audiobook
- avoiding drinking too much alcohol
- not using electronic devices, such as your smartphone or computer, before bed
- avoiding caffeine or large meals late in the day.
You and those close to you may notice changes in your mood. Poor sleep can cause you to feel irritable, angry and frustrated. Problems sleeping may also be a symptom of depression. These feelings may become overwhelming and you may start to feel hopeless. Talking about these feelings and getting the right support can help you cope with anxiety and depression.
Speak to your GP if you’re finding it difficult to sleep. You can also speak to our Specialist Nurses.
I’d had a worrying night feeling sorry for myself, but after a chat I felt so reassured.
Stay physically active
Regular physical activity is a great way to look after your physical and mental health. Physical activity can help you stay a healthy weight, which may be important for men with prostate cancer. And there are also lots of benefits for your mental health. For example, keeping active can:
- improve your sleep
- boost your mood
- relieve stress
- help you cope with symptoms of anxiety and depression.
You don’t need to do hours of exercise a day or run miles to feel the benefits of physical activity. Walking is a gentle way to get active, particularly if you’re experiencing fatigue as a symptom of prostate cancer or a side effect of its treatment. You may wish to start with short walks and build them up as and when you feel well enough.
If you find walking difficult there are gentle sitting exercises you can do at home to help improve your physical and mental health. You can find out more about sitting exercises on the NHS website.
For more tips on how to get active, read our information on physical activity for men with prostate cancer.
Keep a routine – make a plan
Changes or disruptions to your daily routine may make you feel less in control. This can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. It may also affect your sense of identity, particularly if you’ve stopped going to work because of your prostate cancer or coronavirus.
It’s important to keep up a routine where possible and set up new ones if needed. Having a routine can help you feel more in control and take away some of the uncertainty in your day-to-day life, particularly if you’re staying at home. Take your time to find a routine that works for you – there’s no right way to spend your time.
If you have been asked to shield or are staying at home because you are worried about coronavirus, try to keep up your usual personal care. Even though this may not seem essential when you’re not seeing other people, it can have a positive effect on your mental wellbeing.
Your appointments with health professionals may also have been affected by the pandemic and social distancing guidelines. If you’re worried because your appointments have changed, you may forget what you’d planned to talk about. You may find it helpful to plan what you want to ask your doctor or nurse, and write it down as a reminder. It can also help to write notes during your appointments, in case you forget what they say.
Take care of you – find ways to relax
Dealing with a prostate cancer diagnosis can be more challenging at the moment, because of the added stress and worry caused by coronavirus. When you become stressed the muscles in your body can also become tight. So it’s important to find ways to manage this stress, to help you feel less anxious and to help relax your mind and your body.
There are many relaxation techniques you can use to calm your mind, help you focus and reduce the tension in your body. Here are some techniques you could try.
Meditation. There are many different types of meditation, so you may want to try out a couple of techniques to find one that works for you. Meditation involves working with your mind, learning to observe your thoughts and feelings and to understand them better. To find out more about meditation, including a popular type of meditation called guided imagery, visit the Headspace website. You can also download free guided meditations from the Insight Timer App. For information about mindfulness, which is another popular type of meditation, visit the Mind charity website.
Breathing techniques. These are exercises that can help to slow down and control your breathing, which can help to relieve stress and manage anxiety. To find out more about breathing exercises, visit the Headspace website. You can also visit the NHS website to try a breathing exercise for stress. If you have a medical condition that can cause breathing problems, speak to your GP before trying any relaxation techniques.
For more ways to manage your physical and mental wellbeing, visit Every Mind Matters. Created by Public Health England in partnership with the NHS, Every Mind Matters offers free, personalised tips and resources designed to help people take steps to improve their mental health and support others.