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If you're facing a breast cancer diagnosis, get supportive help. Educate yourself. You may feel overwhelmed. Your stress levels may skyrocket. You may worry about finances. And you may be asking yourself difficult questions, such as whether to write a living will. Learning about your diagnosis and getting care can help you deal with the many problems and emotions you're facing.

What Causes Stress for Breast Cancer Patients?

Stress is common among breast cancer patients. Being uncertain about your future, the disease, and financial problems can stress you out.

Common stress signals include trouble sleeping, fatigue, body aches, pain, anxiety, irritability, tension, and headaches.

How Can I Lower My Stress During Breast Cancer?

If you have breast cancer, stress can influence how you feel about life. Family members may also be stressed out. To reduce stress:

  • Keep a positive attitude.
  • Accept that there are things you cannot control.
  • Be assertive instead of aggressive. Assert your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, combative, or passive.
  • Learn to relax.
  • Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when you are physically fit.
  • Eat well-balanced meals.
  • Rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
  • Don't rely on alcohol or drugs to reduce stress.
  • Consider joining a support group, or find a way to talk about your stress.

How Can I Learn to Relax While Fighting Breast Cancer?

There are a number of things you can do to relax during your breast cancer fight. Deep breathing, muscle and mind relaxation, listening to music, and biofeedback can help. Try some of the techniques below. But first, be sure you have a quiet location that’s free of distractions, that you’re comfortable (sit or recline on a chair or sofa), and that you're in good state of mind. Try to block out worries and distracting thoughts.

What Are Some Effective Relaxation Exercises?

Here are some relaxation exercises to try:

  • Two-minute relaxation. Switch your thoughts to yourself and your breathing. Take a few deep breaths, exhaling slowly. Mentally scan your body. Notice areas that feel tense or cramped. Quickly loosen up these areas. Let go of as much tension as you can. Rotate your head in a smooth, circular motion once or twice. (Stop any movements that cause pain.) Roll your shoulders forward and backward several times. Let all of your muscles relax completely. Recall a pleasant thought for a few seconds. Take another deep breath and exhale slowly. You should feel relaxed.
  • Mind relaxation. Close your eyes. Breathe normally through your nose. As you exhale, silently say to yourself the word "one," a short word such as "peaceful," or a short phrase such as "I feel quiet." Continue for 10 minutes. If your mind wanders, gently remind yourself to think about your breathing and your chosen word or phrase. Let your breathing become slow and steady.
  • Deep-breathing relaxation. Imagine a spot just below your belly button. Breathe into that spot and fill your belly with air. Let the air fill you from the belly up, then let it out, like deflating a balloon. With every long, slow breath out, you should feel more relaxed.

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