Full Disclosure: One of the ways I make money on this website is by using “affiliate links.” All this means is that if you click on a link in this post, I may earn a small commission if you purchase something after clicking. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it keeps Consult Colleen up and running. Most importantly, I only link to products and services that I truly trust and believe in. Thanks for your support!
BOOKMARK THIS PAGE! I update it weekly with a new self-care item. Don’t miss out!
Looking for ways to support breast cancer patients in your life? Or maybe you’re the patient looking for ways to treat yourself! Here are some carefully-curated self-care breast cancer self care items that will lift your spirits.
Include one or all of them in a basket or bag to make a great care package breast cancer patients.
Looking for more ideas? Check out my Breast Cancer Store — it’s filled with products for patients and survivors.
Finding ways to escape my own reality, especially post breast cancer diagnosis, is high on my list of priorities. Almost 25 years post diagnosis and I am still working on creating calm in my world. Some stressors are gone, some have remained, and like everyone else, there are new stressors to deal with!
One way I find that I can float away into another world is by reading. I can experience every emotion. Books are filled with happy, sad, courageous, frightening or romantic moments and allow you to fall into a dream world for a little while. It is very refreshing. I read tons of books to help me escape and give myself a break; I highly suggest it to you all.
I read so much, in fact, that I have a kindle unlimited membership. I am able to browse through tons of books and choose the ones that I find most appealing and add them to my library. You can choose from a 6, 12 or 24 month membership program and by doing so Amazon Kindle gives you “access to unlimited reading from over 1 million eBooks and thousands of audiobooks”. Plus you can read them on any device. Try your first month free!
This is a nifty little item I picked up in my travels one day. It is just one more easy way to practice self-care. I bought this for $12.99 and I love it. I use it with lotion and it feels so nice on my face and neck, it massages out my days troubles and leaves me feeling relaxed. If my eyes are feel puffy, I use the small side of the roller under my eyes and it is so soothing. It’s even better if I put it in the freezer for a few minutes first. I can’t guarantee that it makes me look younger, but I still love it. I can have a little mini-spa day whenever I want, and it’s small enough to travel with me.
I love a massage, but not on my face. I am just funny about people touching my face. This mini-phobia of mine has kept me from a wonderful self-care treat…the facial. Then I found these facial sheets.
They have different types for moisturizing, clarifying, anti-aging and anti-wrinkles. In the privacy of your own home (with no one touching your face)! Not sure which one is for you? Get the combo pack…
I love when the weather starts to cool down a bit in the fall. We have beautiful daytime weather and at night there is just a little nip in the air. To give myself a little boost I buy a new quilt for the bed. I love the patchwork design, although there are many to choose from.
It adds just enough warmth for those nights that have a chill and during the day it is a colorful reminder of the change of seasons. It is an opportunity to add some comfort to the bedroom and it always makes me sleep better when I have a new comforter or quilt to snuggle into at night.
This quilt is soft, lightweight with a pretty scalloped edge. It’s just right for those in between weather nights when you don’t know if it will be hot or cold. Pamper yourself!
I love back to school time. Everything is new and signifies new beginnings. The year before is wiped away and everyone starts with a fresh slate.
In the interest of rewarding myself…for a successful and fun summer, for all the hard work that goes into the new school year, I would always buy myself some small token to “start fresh”, even after my children were grown. I didn’t need notebooks and things but I would typically buy myself a new lunch box for work, and I still do.
This is my latest find, so many fun shapes and colors to choose from. It is a “lunch kit” so it comes with a matching water bottle and two food containers to store lunch items. It’s an insulated bag with plenty of room and a shoulder strap for easy carrying. Use it to carry your lunch and save money on take out from work. Or you could fill it up with snacks and drinks and bring it with you to chemo. Sometimes I keep it in the car for snacks on the go to medical appointments or after work treats. Everyone deserves a new lunch box to start the year off right!
Sometimes, with all the relaxation and self -care practice I do…I still end up being unable to sleep. Worse than that, sometimes I just wake up in the middle of the night for no reason, and I can’t get back to sleep. I found that when I am having difficulty sleeping, any type of noise will bother me. I hear faucets dripping, cats purring, husbands snoring and other unidentified noises from all over the house. So I bought a sound machine. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but it actually was the best purchase I have made in a very long time.
Is your hotel room noisy? Maybe you can’t stop hearing the hum of the air conditioner? Maybe you are looking for help to relax during chemotherapy treatments? The sound machine is small enough to take with you! It is very light and can run on batteries. It does come with a wall adapter as well.
There are six different sounds for you to choose from- rain, thunder, ocean, summer night, brook or just white noise. Turn it on and the relaxing sounds will be lulling you off to sleep in no time!
New Ear Buds
Music is total self-care to me. When all else fails, music can make you float away to another world. I love to listen to the music from my high school days to remind me of good memories if I am feeling down. I listen to disco music to keep me walking faster when I am exercising. I listen to classical music when I cook.
Music can relax me and put me in a good mood anytime. I even listen to music when I fly. I can’t stand the sounds the plane makes when it takes off and lands. I am always thinking something is wrong with it. So I listen to music.
When I was having radiation I was a nervous wreck. I really had a hard time staying still for the treatment. I would shake the entire time. My doctor would let me take my CD player (it was 1995) in with me and I would listen to music during the treatments. I used to put on my headphones and listen to Simon and Garfunkel, I am a Rock, and visualize myself being strong.
I keep extra earbuds in my purse so I can listen to music on my phone, my computer or even on the plane. It is a handy way to practice self-care on the go. Now ,”I am a Rock” is on my iPod.
“Because a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries”
I am super pale and I don’t tan well. I love to wear dresses in the summer to work but I am embarrassed at the ghostly pallor of my legs.
I have never been able to find a self-tanner that looks real but isn’t too dark or orange looking. Enter Jergens Mousse Bronzer. It’s awesome.
It has tinting so you can see where you have applied it. It dries fast and comes in two shades and doesn’t break the bank!
Want to get away? Sometimes I really wish I could. Stress comes in so many different packages that it seems unavoidable. We have stress at work, stress at home, bills and to-do lists a mile long. If you have breast cancer, add to that list the stress of just having cancer and trying to get through each day. Not to mention all the appointments that clutters your calendar with stresses of their own. It seems never ending.
Aside from the breast cancer, I have also been blessed with an anxiety disorder (go figure). I found that visualization was very helpful when my anxiety started to peak. I found an interesting article that describes visualization as helping with the ability to relax, by focusing your mind on calming images, much like a daydream.
I love to daydream. I love to float away to other places in my mind and just forget my troubles for a little while. I find that to daydream, or visualize, I really need to concentrate, and make an effort to get my mind to go to that “happy place”. The problem is, especially when I am anxious, I have a hard time getting my mind to go anywhere. If I really concentrate I can do it, but I don’t often have the time to get myself focused enough for it to be effective.
In order to visualize with calming results, I need a visual. I guess that makes sense? At least, in order to get my mind focused on my happy place quickly and easily, I’m better if I can see it. Pictures work, but I have found something way more fun! Zen Gardens!
Yes, Zen Gardens. It’s like a mini sandbox you can play in as an adult and get away with it. Put it on your desk, or anywhere you want really, it’s not that big. When the stress hits or you feel yourself just needing a break…grab your Zen Garden. The one I picked to share has a beach chair, an umbrella and a boat! If you only have a few minutes, don’t just daydream…set the scene yourself!
Luxurious Bath Bombs
I personally believe that it is impossible to be stressed out in the bathtub. Think about it. You are in a hot bath, maybe with some bubbles or a bath bomb, sipping on a glass of wine, and listening to some classical music. Light candles perhaps, but soak in that tub until it’s too cold to stay in it. You literally cannot stress out.
I started many years ago taking hot baths in order to de-stress. I am a very easily stressed person; you can read more about that here. I couldn’t just breathe myself through stress. I found it easier to have something that forced me to relax, without a lot of effort.
Taking a bath was easy, free and could take as much or as little time as I wanted. This was a bonus because my children were small at the time. With young boys, sometimes I had a lot of time — like when they were in bed — but sometimes, I had just a few minutes.
I liked to add bubbles or some kind of scent to my bath. I found it made it easier to relax. Now they have bath bombs which are…the bomb. (See what I did there?) They fizz, they smell good, and they make your skin feel amazing! This set comes in a pretty box for gift giving OR grab it for yourself and pretend you are all alone in a luxurious hotel…
Talk about a win-win. All you have to do is sit there. No pressure, no stress and a guarantee that at least your muscles will relax. The truth is, sitting in a hot tub will relax your muscles whether you want it to or not.
Coloring Books (for Grown Ups!)
“I’m bored!” How many of us have shouted that out as a child? As we get older, getting “bored” is a welcome change. Our new normal seems to be a regular dose of stress and chaos. When I was a child, the remedy to boredom, often, was coloring.
I remember having favorite coloring books and special crayons. Who didn’t love the brand-new box of Crayola crayons? A 64-count box was always on my Christmas list. I used to spend so much time choosing just the right picture to color. I always took my time and I used to love the end result. Then I would rip it out of the book and stick it on the refrigerator to admire my masterpiece.
I used to do the same thing with my children’s coloring creations. Secretly hoping they would want me to sit down and color a picture with them. They were in awe of my ability to stay within the lines. The older they got, the less marks outside the lines for them too. They were so proud of their final products. Then they started the critique of the finished coloring pages, which would run right into mealtime. The discussions covering everything from the type of picture to the choice of color. A happy pastime for sure.
Now that I my children are adults; coloring has long been a thing of the past. Recently, I happened upon an adult coloring book and I was intrigued. I used to love to color and it brought back so many happy memories. I was curious to know if there were any potential benefits of this adult coloring phenomenon.
I found a great article that supports the theory that coloring for adults may be beneficial. Dr. Nikki Martinez explains how coloring can help with things like focus, distraction from negative habits and being mindful.
When we are in the throws of stress and anxiety, slowing down and redirecting our thoughts can help us to be calmer. During chemotherapy treatment, for example, there are a few hours that we must sit and face our biggest fear, our cancer. I couldn’t focus on much during my treatments, but I wish I had thought to bring a coloring book!
An (adult) coloring book is a great passer of the time. It’s easy, fun and distracting, in a positive way. We focus on choosing colors and seeing the picture come to life. We are challenged only to stay in the lines. Coloring can help us to stay in the present moment, to be mindful of what we are doing.
Adult coloring can take us to a happy place, even for a few minutes, during treatment, when we are feeling down or waiting for test results. I’ve got time for that.
I love tea. It is one of the most comforting beverages I can think of. One of my fondest memories as a little girl, involves tea. My dad used to make me tea when I was sick. I remember hearing him come home from work and he would come upstairs to see how I was feeling. When he did, he always had a cup of tea for me. My favorite part of being sick was the time I spent with my dad while I drank my tea. It always tasted so good.
As I got older, my father and I would have some important conversations over a freshly brewed pot of tea. I used to love how he could also brew great tea from the leaves and not need a teabag. I need to use a teabag! Tea became a very comforting drink for me.
Now, as an adult, I use tea for “me” time. Having a cup of tea is an event for me. I make sure to plan my teatime so that I am not disturbed. I like to have my tea from a special cup and sip it slowly. I don’t do anything while I am drinking my tea. I pick a spot with a beautiful view, sometimes from a room in my home looking out over the pond. If I am out, I might take my tea to a bench in a park or looking out a large window. The window may be overlooking a busy street or falling snow. It relaxes me and makes me feel comforted.
Research on tea is positive. Green tea, black tea, herbal tea, all show benefits to those who drink it. A study in the British Journal of Cancer concluded that drinking tea may decrease the risk of cancer, and green tea may be protective against breast cancer.
I used to love going to the beach, after the tourists were gone in September. Sometimes my husband and I would go a bit early and read while we listened to the ocean. When the sun started to go down, we would pour a glass of wine and enjoy it while we watched the sunset. It was extremely relaxing, and those are memories I still enjoy thinking back on. A cooler, some snacks, and the ocean.
Self-Care doesn’t necessarily equal being alone. You can go to a park or a lake and take a basket or cooler with you and enjoy nature or read a book. You can share time with a friend or a loved one and pack a snack and enjoy each other’s company. Maybe you go early to a child’s sporting event or stay late afterward. Packing some drinks and snacks and just enjoying where you are can be very self-soothing. No phones, no responsibilities, and no stress.
Breast Cancer treatment comes with fatigue. We want to be with friends and loved ones, but we get tuckered out. I remember it taking a while after treatments before I felt back to my normal energy level. Having a drinks and snacks on hand when you are out can come in handy. A picnic blanket also gives you some place to sit down and enjoy festivities, while you rest a bit.
Sound like the kind of “me time” you would enjoy? Think about a picnic set so it’s easy to pack snacks and drinks whenever you want to unwind. I like this particular insulated basket for “picnics” because it keeps food warm and drinks cold. The basket is also good for long road trips and sporting events. It fits easily in the car. It comes with a waterproof blanket to sit on that keeps you dry even if the ground is wet.
Buy it here on Amazon!
Breast Cancer Journal
I am not perfect, but I try to be and it’s stressful. I am easily overwhelmed and I try to jam too much stuff into one day. I see it as a side effect of surviving breast cancer, and having to face my own mortality. I don’t want to waste a single minute and I forget to enjoy what I am doing and experiencing. Part of the joy of being on this earth is to derive pleasure from our time here, not just fill it up until it passes.
I found that the easiest way for me to relax and revel in everything that I am stuffing into my very active life, is to journal. It makes you slow down and really spend time on what you experience in the course of the day. Remember the good things, and check in with your feelings. I look forward to putting down in writing what is great about today. It is very calming to me.
I invite you to give it a try, if you haven’t before, or if you have stopped for some reason. It is easy to pick back up. It takes very little time and gives you “happy thoughts” to fall asleep with at night. (That is when I journal). I love this particular journal because it guides you through different ways to identify the positive things you encountered in your day. Sometimes we move so fast, we don’t even take time to appreciate seeing a rainbow or making someone smile. Keeping a journal helps you to take delight in each moment, without making it a chore.
Don’t miss the delightful moments you are gifted each day. Make time to acknowledge and take pleasure in them.
You can buy this journal here.
Breast Cancer Inspirational Water Bottle
Stay hydrated. Drinking enough water is important for everyone, everyday. Water flushes your system and keeps your body functioning properly. It’s easy to forget to drink enough water but this bottle is a sure motivator.
The back gives you some positive reinforcement while measuring how much water you’ve had. I love products that serve a purpose and motivate me!
Buy it here!
Bath & Body Works “Comfort” Lotion and Body Wash
I think I could give Toucan Sam a run for his money. I am very in touch with my sense of smell. I find that scents actually can alter my mood, and certain scents even calm me. I have been like this my whole life. I think a lot of people are and they just aren’t in tuned with what they are smelling. Certain odors give me bad vibes, not just because they smell bad, but more because of the memories that they evoke in me. I link many memories, most memories, to scents.
I dislike the smell of peppermint. For anyone who has suffered through chemotherapy, you know there are certain drugs (Cytoxin?) that cause headaches, or “brain freeze,” and the suggestion was always to suck on a peppermint. It worked. But, UGH. Scratch Peppermint off the list for me.
With that said, there are lots of great scents that bring back super memories.
I love the smell of coconut, it reminds me of summer as a child. All the sun lotions were coconut. Pine reminds me of new cars. We always had one of those green trees, the ones to make the car smell good, hanging from the dashboard. I love the smell of turkey or apple pies because it reminds me of the holidays. The aroma of fresh cut grass or freshly brewed coffee brings my dad to mind. The list goes on.
What I find is that if I have the right “smell” it can truly turn my mood around. I can feel more relaxed or comforted by the memories that are evoked by certain fragrances. I have always loved aromatherapy and the calming impact it has on me.
One way that I pamper myself, and start my day with positive self care, is to use calming scents in shower. My soaps and lotions are all fragrantly pleasing, but I found that this mixture called “Comfort” is truly that. I start my day with a sudsy shower and inhale the scent to calm and relax me, before the stress tries to creep in. It is subtle, not overwhelming, and I find it helps me start the day with a feeling of being “centered”.
I like this particular set because it has the bath soap as well as the lotion. If I find my day to be truly challenging, I just use the hand lotion and it reminds me of the place I started my day…calm and ready to take on the world.
Buy it here!
Don’t forget: My Breast Cancer Store is filled with more great gift ideas and products for breast cancer patients and survivors.