Stress Management When You Have Cancer - Topic Overview
The diagnosis of cancer presents many challenges, and you may feel a
great deal of stress. Some people try to relieve stress by smoking, drinking,
overeating, using drugs, or just "shutting down." Some people become violent or
abusive in response to stress. These methods of coping have harmful side
effects. By learning other ways to deal with symptoms of stress, you can avoid
problems that may affect yourself or others and improve your overall quality of
- Express yourself. Stress
and tension affect our emotions. By expressing your feelings to others, you may
be able to understand and cope with them.
- Join a support group.
Talking about a problem with your spouse, a good friend, or other people with
similar problems is a valuable way to reduce tension and stress.
- Cry. Crying also can relieve tension. It's
part of the emotional healing process.
- Artistic expression. Expressing yourself through writing, crafts, dance, or art
also may be a good tension reliever. Some dance, writing, or art groups may be
available especially for individuals diagnosed with cancer.
- Get moving. Regular,
moderate physical activity may be the single best approach to managing stress.
Walking briskly will take advantage of the rapid pulse and tensed muscles
caused by stress and release your pent-up energy. After a long walk, your
stress level is lower and more manageable.
- Be kind to your body and mind. Getting enough sleep, eating a nutritious diet,
and taking time to do things you enjoy can contribute to an overall feeling of
balance in your life and help reduce stress.
- Get help if you need it. Discuss your concerns with your doctor, counselor,
or other health professional.
Whatever you do to manage stress, you can benefit from the regular
use of relaxation skills.
The following methods of relaxation and meditation are among the
simplest and most effective. They should be done twice a day for about 20
minutes. Pick a time and place where you won't be disturbed or distracted. After
you've trained your body and mind to relax (2 to 3 weeks), you'll be able to
produce that same relaxed state whenever you want.