As a doctor and entrepreneur, I spent most of my life seeking control – obsessively studying, planning, and working to guarantee my success. That’s why I wanted to be an entrepreneur in the first place – I wanted to be my own boss, in charge of my own fate. Despite my success, in 2013, I would lose every semblance of control in my life. In 2013, I was diagnosed with cancer.
My cancer diagnosis came with many emotions: anger, anxiety, uncertainty, depression. I felt alone and hopeless, like everything I had worked so hard for suddenly didn’t matter. I just had to “wait and see” if the chemotherapy worked; how sick I would be; if I could have a family one day; if I would ever have my regular life back.
In many ways, I see similarities between the way my cancer diagnosis impacted my life and how the current Coronavirus pandemic is affecting us all. Life as you know it has suddenly stopped. You don’t know when it will return to normal, and you may feel like you have completely lost control of your life.
Even though the unknowns of cancer treatment terrified me, certain strategies gave me a “sense” of control – and often times, that was enough. I hope that you can employ these strategies in the coming days and weeks to regain control in these uncertain times.
Although chemotherapy prevented intense workouts, simply walking regularly released feel-good endorphins in my brain, and it’s something I had control over. Similarly, a self-imposed routine may help you cope with the uncertainty of the Coronavirus pandemic. Even though gyms are closed, consider doing body-weight workouts at home, YouTube fitness tutorials, or walking/running outside.
You can also change your breathing patterns voluntarily, resulting in various powerful effects. For example, if you feel a wave of panic approaching, try taking deeper breaths using your diaphragm, which will cause your heart rate to slow and your body to relax.
Exercise and focused breathing are two techniques that worked for me, but it’s also important to remember what activities made you feel the best. Try journaling how different activities make you feel – more/less anxious, more/less in control, etc. This way, you can continue doing things that make you feel good, even when the Coronavirus is a distant memory.
Sometimes, challenging times are the kickstart you need to pursue a better life. After my cancer diagnosis, I completely transformed my stress-filled, unhealthy lifestyle. I overcame cancer, and I owe it all to positive lifestyle changes. If you are ready to start your journey to better health, check out my book “From Doctor to Patient.”
About Dr. Diva Nagula
Dr. Diva Nagula is a board-certified osteopathic physician with extensive knowledge and training in Integrative and Functional Medicine. He was diagnosed and treated for Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After several years of treatment, he remains in complete remission.
You can purchase his book here.