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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

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Coping With Cancer

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Learn to Relax

There are a number of exercises you can do to relax -- breathing, muscle and mind relaxation, and listening to music are just a few ideas. 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.
  • 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.

Understand Your Medical Information

  • Don't be afraid to ask your doctor, nurse, or other health care provider to repeat and explain any instructions or medical terms that you don't understand. They should be available to answer your questions and address your concerns.
  • Make use of resources and support services offered by your hospital and in the community. Learning more about your disease will help you feel more comfortable with your treatment.
  • Ask your family and friends to help you sort through the information you receive.
  • Talk with other patients and families about cancer and its treatment.
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