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Cancer Health Center

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Coping With Cancer

Reduce Stress While Fighting Cancer

Here are some tips to help you reduce stress while fighting cancer:

  • Keep a positive attitude.
  • Accept that there are events you cannot control.
  • Be assertive instead of aggressive. "Assert" your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, combative, or passive.
  • 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.

Relaxation Techniques and Cancer

If you're stressed, there are a number of exercises you can try to help you relax. These exercises include special breathing techniques, muscle and mind relaxation, relaxation to music, and biofeedback. Examples of relaxation techniques are listed below. First, be sure that you have a quiet, distraction-free location. Try to find a comfortable body position. Sit or recline on a chair or sofa. Also, have a good state of mind -- try to block out worries and troubling thoughts.

  • 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. Loosen up these areas, letting go of as much tension as you can. Rotate your head in a smooth, circular motion once or twice. (If any movement causes pain, stop immediately.) Roll your shoulders forward and backward several times. Let all of your muscles completely relax. Recall a pleasant thought for a few seconds. Take another deep breath and exhale slowly. You should feel more 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 navel. Breathe into that spot and fill your stomach with air. Let the air fill you from the stomach up, then let it out, like deflating a balloon. With every long, slow breath out, you should feel more relaxed.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 26, 2014
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