When you are faced with cancer and are going through radiation therapy, stress becomes a way of life. The feeling of helplessness, fear, depression and the overwhelming anxiety of being alone on a journey to recovery can produce high levels of stress. While stress in small doses is good to get your body in a state that’s ready to fight off what is threatening it, if it persists for a long time it can make your body weaker. Cancer might have taken over your life but it is essential to get the full benefit of your treatment by going beyond the panic mode and finding your inner peace.Here are six ways to help you de-stress and take back control of your life as much as you can.
1. Take Deep Breaths
When you are anxious you tend to take short, quick breaths. Because not enough of oxygen is entering your body, it begins to tense up further. This is why laughing, yawning and sighing are your body’s way of getting more oxygen to its starved cells. Help your body by doing these deep breathing exercises frequently through the day, especially when you are stressed. Take a deep breath from your diaphragm and slowly pull your stomach in. Hold the breath for a few seconds and then release it slowly. Repeat it a few times until you feel your body relax.
Relax And Meditate
Saying your prayers is also a form of mediation. Repetition is a way of getting your mind to focus on more positive things. Traditional meditation asks you to imagine yourself in a space which is calm. Each of us has a different visualization of this space; it could be the mountains, a forest glen or even your bedroom. Whichever space this might be, get your mind there and then find a word that you can chant repetitively, either aloud or in your mind. Choose any word that might mean something to you, like “hope”, “happy” or even the traditional “om”. Your mind is going to wander and hop to ideas, especially at the beginning. Gently try to guide it back and your mind will get trained to do it better. Try to do this for at least 15 minute sessions, especially at the start of the day.
A little exercise will do you a world of good. It encourages the brain to release the happy chemical serotonin and your body needs all the happiness it can get. The exercise need not be anything strenuous. Water aerobics or even a gentle walk is a good form of exercise. But listen to your body and don’t push it. If you are feeling exhausted or fatigued, let your body rest but resume exercise as soon as you can.
4. Get Creative
Creativity can make you feel more positive especially when you can see your hands making something. Painting and pottery are two hobbies that have been seen to reduce stress levels in individuals. Learning something new or going back to something you know, will take your mind off your illness and help it to focus on other things for a short while. There are art therapists who are specially trained to help you reduce your stress, so try finding one who can help you.
Treat Yourself To An Indulgence
Stepping out into a world you took for granted might be difficult but is always a mood booster. Book a massage at a nearby spa every few weeks to give yourself a well-deserved indulgence. The ambiance, soothing music and the masseuse exerting their magic on your tense muscles can be bliss. A facial or other pampering techniques like a pedicure is also an indulgence that your body will thank you for. If going alone makes you hesitate, get a few friends to come along.
Cancer Support Groups
It’s important to talk about your anxiety and your feelings with someone you trust. Often you don’t want to stress out your caregivers and so you bottle up your anxiety. This is why cancer support groups are good to join. They are people who share the same experiences as you. You get a chance to talk about what is troubling to you and empathize with what others share. You can learn how others are coping with the treatments and side effects. Your doctor or social worker will be able to get you in touch with a local group. Support groups are also available on the internet if you are unable to go to meetings.