Stress Management When You Have Cancer - Topic Overview
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.
- Place your left hand on your abdomen and your
right hand on your chest. Notice how your hands move as you breathe in and
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
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.
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.