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Prostate Cancer: Easing Stress

If you have prostate cancer, you may feel stress caused by the uncertainty of your future, the unpredictability of the cancer, the chance of disability, and financial difficulties.

Common signs of stress can include disturbed sleep, fatigue, body aches and pain, anxiety, irritability, tension, and headaches.

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How Can I Reduce Stress?

These actions can help:

  • Keep a positive attitude.
  • Accept that there are events you cannot control.
  • Be assertive instead of aggressive. "Assert" your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, combative, or passive.
  • Learn to relax (see below).
  • Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when you are physically fit.
  • Eat well-balanced meals.
  • Rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
  • Don't rely on alcohol or drugs to reduce stress.

How Can I Manage My Stress?

Managing stress can play an important role in combating fatigue. Here are some suggestions that may help.

1. Adjust your expectations. For example, if you have a list of 10 things you want to accomplish today, determine which seem most important today (that is, prioritize), and leave the rest for other days. A sense of accomplishment and control like this goes a long way to reducing stress.

2. Help others understand and support you. Family and friends can be helpful if they can "put themselves in your shoes" and understand what fatigue means to you. Cancer groups can be a source of support, as well. Other people with cancer understand what you are going through.

3. Relaxation techniques such as audiotapes that teach deep breathing or visualization can help reduce stress.

4. Activities that divert your attention away from fatigue can also be helpful. For example, reading or listening to music require little physical energy but require attention.

How Can I Learn to Relax?

A number of exercises can help you relax. These include breathing, muscle and mind relaxation, relaxation to music, and biofeedback. A few you can try are listed below.

First, be sure that you have a quiet location that is free of distractions, a comfortable body position (sit or recline on a chair or sofa), and a good state of mind. Try to block out worries and distracting 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. Quickly loosen up these areas. Let go of as much tension as you can. Rotate your head in a smooth, circular motion once or twice. (Stop any movements that cause pain.) 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. You should feel more relaxed.
  • 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 "peace," 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 abdomen with air. Let the air fill you from the abdomen up, then let it out, like deflating a balloon. With every long, slow breath out, you should feel more relaxed.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jay B. Zatzkin, MD, FACP on August 01, 2013

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