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Tips to Help Reduce Stress and Relax

We understand that cancer can cause a series of emotions. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to feel. Whether you were diagnosed with cancer or supporting a loved one, finding ways to relax and reduce stress will improve your overall health. Stress can affect the immune system, disrupt sleep and cause digestive issues and pain. Relaxation provides physical and emotional benefits, and practicing mindfulness can help you feel strong and focused. 

What is Mindfulness and Its Benefits?

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s happening around us. Sometimes we get so caught up in the hardships of our lives that we easily forget about taking time for ourselves and seeing the good. 

Mindfulness improves mental and physical health, reduces stress, anxiety, and depression, encourages healthier eating habits, and improves relationships. While mindfulness is innate, it can be cultivated through proven techniques. Here are some examples:

Start Everyday with a Purpose

Every day is a new day, which means leaving yesterday’s feelings in the past and starting the day with a clear head. 

Taking deep breaths can lower your heart rate and slow the release of stress hormones. Next, ask yourself what your intentions are for that day, and then set at least two intentions that will improve yourself throughout the day. 

Treat Yourself like a Friend

It is easy to be hard on yourself, but treat yourself the way you would your best friend. Be self-compassionate!

Exercise: Yoga is one example of combining exercise with a stress-busting activity. Focus on whatever activity you enjoy the most, and give it a try whenever you feel overwhelmed.

Take a bath: Take a nice warm bubble bath or try aromatherapy bath salts to soak the stress away.

Read: Choose a book that keeps you engaged, then curl up and unwind. 

Journal: Express your thoughts and feelings in writing. Journaling is a great way to organize thoughts and feelings on paper, so they no longer take up room in your head. It also helps put our thoughts and experiences into words, which helps us make sense of them and grow.

Listen to music: Music is effective for relaxation and stress management. Studies have slower-tempo music quiets your mind and relaxes your muscles, making you feel soothed while releasing the stress of the day. Try listening to music the next time you receive chemotherapy to keep your mind busy and help you feel calm. 

Find a hobby: Engaging in a hobby you enjoy, such as knitting, baking, scrapbooking, painting, or drawing, can keep you focused on positive endeavors. 

Last but not least, disconnect.

We all rely on our cell phones and computers throughout the day but try to “unplug.” You may be surprised how restful it is to avoid electronic contact for just 30 minutes a day.

Cancel everything you have to do, and do something you want to do, even if what you want to do is nothing at all. Once you find a technique that feels right, keep it up. Always remember the physicians and care teams at ABCS are always here to provide patients and their families with coping tips and information on facing the cancer experience.


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