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Breast Cancer: Get the Support You Need

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If you’ve recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, you owe it yourself to get help dealing with the many questions, problems, and emotions you're facing.

Here's how to do that.

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How Can I Lower My Stress?

Maybe you feel uncertain about your future, the disease, or your finances. Your family members may be stressed out, too.

The warning signs include trouble sleeping, fatigue, body aches, pain, anxiety, irritability, tension, and headaches.

Here's what you can do:

  • Accept that there are things you can't control.
  • Try to keep a positive attitude.
  • Try to relax.
  • Be assertive instead of aggressive. Assert your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, combative, or passive.
  • Eat well-balanced meals.
  • Rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
  • Consider joining a support group, or find a way to talk about how you’re feeling.

How Can I Learn to Relax While Fighting Breast Cancer?

You can do a number of things. Deep breathing, muscle and mind relaxation, listening to music, and biofeedback can help. You can also try different relaxation techniques.

What Are Some Relaxation Exercises?

Before you try any exercise, set aside a quiet spot that’s free of distractions. Get comfortable, too -- sit or recline on a chair or sofa. Also try to block out worries and distracting thoughts.

You can 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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