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Stress Management When You Have Cancer - Topic Overview

Roll breathing

The way you breathe affects your whole body. Full, deep breathing is a good way to reduce tension and feel relaxed. The object of roll breathing is to develop full use of your lungs and get in touch with the rhythm of your breathing. It can be practiced in any position, but it is best to learn it lying on your back with your knees bent.

  1. Place your left hand on your abdomen and your right hand on your chest. Notice how your hands move as you breathe in and out.
  2. Practice filling your lower lungs by breathing so that your left hand goes up when you inhale and your right hand remains still. Always inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
  3. When you have filled and emptied your lower lungs 8 to 10 times, add the second step to your breathing: Inhale first into your lower lungs as before, and then continue inhaling into your upper chest. As you do so, your right hand will rise and your left hand will fall a little as your abdomen falls.
  4. As you exhale slowly through your mouth, make a quiet, whooshing sound as first your left hand and then your right hand falls. As you exhale, feel the tension leaving your body as you become more and more relaxed.
  5. Practice breathing in and out in this manner for 3 to 5 minutes. Notice that the movement of your abdomen and chest is like rolling waves rising and falling in a rhythmic motion.

Practice roll breathing daily for several weeks until you can do it almost anywhere, providing an instant relaxation tool any time you need one.

Caution: Some people get dizzy the first few times they try roll breathing. If you begin to hyperventilate or become lightheaded, slow your breathing. Get up slowly.

Progressive muscle relaxation

The body responds to stressful thoughts or situations with muscle tension, which can cause pain or discomfort. Deep muscle relaxation reduces muscle tension and general mental anxiety, too. Progressive muscle relaxation is effective in combating stress-related health problems and often helps people get to sleep.

Method

You can use a prerecorded audiotape to help you go through all the muscle groups, or you can do it by just tensing and relaxing each muscle group.

Choose a place where you can lie down on your back and stretch out comfortably, such as a carpeted floor. Tense each muscle group for 4 to 10 seconds (hard but not to the point of cramping), then give yourself 10 to 20 seconds to release it and relax.

Now and then take the time to review all the muscle groups. Then relax each one a little more each time you use this method.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 01, 2012
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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