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Cancer Support: Dealing With Emotions and Fears - Topic Overview

Dealing with anxiety

Worry and distress may feel like they're taking over your life. But there are many things you can do to lower your anxiety and feel better. Pick one or two to try today.

  • Write. Start a journal. Writing about things that are bothering you may help you deal with your feelings.
  • Let your feelings out. Talk, laugh, cry, and express anger when you need to. Talking with friends, family, a counselor, or a member of the clergy about your feelings is a healthy way to relieve stress.
  • Exercise. Brisk walking and other forms of exercise, such as yoga or tai chi and qi gong, can help release pent-up emotions.
  • Try guided imagery. Guided imagery helps you use your imagination to take you to a calm, peaceful place. You can actionset.gif do guided imagery on your own. Or you can do it with audio recordings, an instructor, or scripts to lead you through the process.
  • Practice gratitude. "Be thankful" might seem like strange advice when you're facing cancer. But gratitude is linked to your sense of well-being, and it can boost the inner strength that helps you bounce back. It works by shifting your attention to the positive things in your life. To practice gratitude, you say "thanks" and you appreciate what's important to you.

Where to get help

It's great to try to find things you can do on your own to feel better. And if you have family and friends who are good listeners, it can help a lot to talk to them about how you're feeling.

But not everyone has someone to talk to. And sometimes it's easier to talk to someone who isn't directly affected by your cancer. A counselor or therapist can help you work through the emotions of cancer. He or she can simply listen to your worries and anything else you feel like talking about.

Different types of counseling include family therapy, couples therapy, group counseling, and individual counseling. Be sure you choose the right counselor or therapist for your needs. Finding a good fit with a counselor is important.

Consider joining a cancer support group. It helps to connect with people who are going through the same things you are. Your doctor can help you find a group in your area.

Where to learn more

The following booklets from the National Cancer Institute's website may be helpful:

  • Taking Time: Support for People With Cancer (
  • When Someone You Love Is Being Treated for Cancer (

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 07, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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