Skip to main content
An official website of the United States government

Keep Up with Your Daily Routine

Two women practicing yoga
Credit: National Cancer Institute

If you feel well enough, keep up with your daily routine. This includes:

  • Going to work
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Taking part in activities
  • Going on trips

Think about how you want to spend your time and who you like to be with. What makes you happy? What types of things do you enjoy the most?

My cancer made me take a closer look at how I spend my days. I vowed to use my time in ways that were good for me or brought me pleasure.


Have Fun

You can still have joy in your life while having cancer. Sometimes people with cancer try new, fun things that they have never done before. For instance, have you always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon or go on a boat cruise? What fun things have you always wanted to try, but have never taken the time to do?

Try to do something just for fun, not because you have to do it. But be careful not to tire yourself out. Some people get depressed when they are too tired. Make sure to get enough rest so you feel strong and can enjoy these fun activities.

Look for What Makes You Laugh and Smile

Is cancer life-threatening? Yes, but why die mad? So I joked about it all the way through, and I think it helped me.


If you like to joke with your friends and family don't stop now. For many people, humor is a way to gain a sense of control. Laughter can help you relax. When you laugh, your brain releases chemicals that produce pleasure and relax your muscles. Even a smile can fight off stressful thoughts. Of course, you may not always feel like laughing, but other people have found that these ideas can help:

  • Ask people to send you funny cards
  • Enjoy the amusing things children and pets do
  • Watch funny movies or TV shows
  • Listen to comedy recordings and podcasts
  • Buy a funny desk calendar
  • Read humor-related books or articles
  • Check out websites and videos on the Internet. If you don't own a computer, use one at your local library

You may even find that you can laugh at yourself. "I went by to help a friend this summer, and it was really hot, so I took my wig off," one woman said. "I got ready to go and I couldn't find it. After searching high and low, I found it hanging from her dog's mouth. But I just stuck it on my head and went home. My husband said, 'What happened?' Needless to say that wig has never been the same."

Exercise and Physical Activity

Research shows many people find they have more energy when they take part in physical activities such as swimming, walking, yoga, and biking. They find that these types of exercise, or anything that gets their body moving, helps to keep them strong and makes them feel good. A bit of exercise every day:

  • Improves your chances of feeling better
  • Keeps your muscles toned
  • Speeds your healing
  • Decreases fatigue
  • Controls stress
  • Increases appetites
  • Decreases constipation
  • Helps free your mind of bad thoughts

Even if you have never exercised before, you can start now. Choose something you think you'd like to do, and get your doctor's okay to try it. There are things you can do even if you have to stay in bed.

Set Goals to Look Forward to

You may find it helpful to look beyond your treatment and think about what you want to do when you feel well again. Many people set goals so that they can work toward something. For example, they research and plan a trip, or they think about classes and learning things they’ve always meant to learn. They may look forward to going to a wedding or meeting a new grandchild.

  • Updated:

If you would like to reproduce some or all of this content, see Reuse of NCI Information for guidance about copyright and permissions. In the case of permitted digital reproduction, please credit the National Cancer Institute as the source and link to the original NCI product using the original product's title; e.g., “Keep Up with Your Daily Routine was originally published by the National Cancer Institute.”