Unwanted change and loss are difficult realities experienced by people who have been diagnosed with cancer and other critical illness. Critical illness hits hard and can change our lives in profound ways far beyond the challenges of medical realities.
Thankfully, with early detection, advancement of treatments, supportive services, and more of us getting involved with our care, longer term successful recovery is on the rise. But management of all the practical challenges that come with critical illness remains and our work-selves often require a re-adjust.
When our contract as a full-time patient comes to a close, we are often left in a surreal circle of “what’s next”? For some of us, returning to previous employment is not an option. Some of us consciously make a choice to disengage from a past role that does not support our on-going healing.
However we land and no matter how difficult it is to piece life and work back together in ways that fit into changed realities, there are meaningful possibilities waiting for exploration.
Restore: Make your health needs paramount
As you embark on your return-to-work experience, you might find that you simply do not have the same energy as you had before diagnosis and treatment. Honouring this new reality and choosing health-focused activities that maintain your on-going restoration is critical.
Continuing to participate in activities that supported you while going through treatment such as yoga, meditation, or connecting with nature will sustain you as you return to work and/or explore new directions.
Design your personal stress test
Pay attention to how you feel at the end of a work day. Reflect back to how you felt in the past.
A colleague of mine recently shared that before her cancer diagnosis, she had felt like she had been hyperventilating all of the time. This was due to her high-performance work accountabilities and a personal need to keep achieving – far beyond what was needed. This has now become her personally designed stress test.
You will, of course, have your own unique prompts and triggers, but even the simple act of full breath can be a helpful gauging point. If a particular type or level of involvement is repeatedly impacting you in a negative way, you may find that it is not worth the cost of health.
How emotional intelligence contributes to thriving at this time
The THRIVE Plan coaching program is based on the five realms of emotional intelligence to support employees returning to work during or after treatment for critical illness. The program provides employees with tools and enhanced skills to effectively manage requirements and emotional stages and make the return-to-work experience positive, productive, and rewarding.
If you would like to find out if the THRIVE program is right for you or someone you know, we are happy to talk to you about how we can offer support for a positive return-to-work experience and/or exploration of a new direction.