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Sexual Wellness

Dear Iris: I Don’t Feel Like Myself

Dear Iris,

Treatment has taken over and I feel like I don’t even recognize myself anymore. Do you have any tips for reconnecting with my body when I don’t feel like myself?


Dear M,

I refer to these as tips for promoting body esteem. Body esteem refers to the comfort and confidence you have with your body. Three types of body esteem activities I recommend are: 1) appearance-enhancing, 2) sensory pleasing, and 3) health and fitness-related activities.

Examples of appearance-enhancing activities include getting dressed up or wearing your favorite clothes, putting on make-up, wearing a cheerful color, painting your nails, looking for a nice hat to wear, or trying a new hairstyle (or wig). 

Sensory activities include anything that activates one of your 5 senses: being outdoors, wearing something soft or silky, watching a sunset/sunrise, hugging, listening to music, playing a musical instrument, going for a scenic drive, getting a massage, painting, or star gazing.

Health and fitness-related activities do not have to be intense or prolonged. They can be as simple as stretching, playing with children or grandchildren, walking, dancing, meditation, swimming, or gardening.

The key when doing these activities is to do them intentionally and with purpose – taking time to focus on how they make your body feel. Make your own list of body esteem activities to try and select 3-5 things you will do over the next week.

Plan ahead — put them on your calendar — and pay specific attention to how your body feels in these moments. You can even choose to journal about your experiences as you work to reconnect with your body.

Have a question?

Michelle Fingeret, PhD

Clinical Psychologist

Fingeret Psychology Services

Dr. Michelle Fingeret has spent the last 18 years providing body image counseling to adult cancer survivors. As a psychologist specializing in body image and cancer, she’s worked extensively in both outpatient and inpatient settings providing therapy to individuals, couples, and groups.

This article meets Iris standards for medical accuracy. It has been fact-checked by the Iris Clinical Editorial Board, our team of oncology experts who ensure that the content is evidence based and up to date. The Iris Clinical Editorial Board includes board-certified oncologists and pharmacists, psychologists, advanced practice providers, licensed clinical social workers, oncology-certified nurses, and dietitians.