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Anxiety and Cancer

anxiety_meditationAnxiety and cancer are words that tend to go together for many people once the diagnosis of cancer is made.   Many mind-body techniques that utilize forms of relaxation training can be helpful in reducing a wide range of symptoms and experiences.  These techniques help you to cope with stressful situations, provide some sense of control in an otherwise “out of control” experience.  They often lower physiological arousal which helps you to feel less overwhelmed and anxious.  We encourage all patients and caregivers to learn at least one relaxation strategy to use throughout the cancer experience.  It can include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation that involves tightening and then relaxing muscle groups, guided imagery and meditation practices.  There is evidence that these techniques reduce anxiety, depression and improve overall well-being.  The good part about these techniques is that they have no side effects and they will not interact with your other medications or treatment.  In addition, there are indications that they help reduce the effects of stress which may have long term implications for other illness and symptoms.   Take a deep breath, close your eyes and release your breath in a long exhale; say the words “relax….relax…” as you do this.  Allow your breathing to become slowed down, rhythmic and try another one of these deep breaths followed by the exhale.  You can often find groups or classes to teach these mind-body techniques.  Note relaxation and mindful meditation are not the same, but they may both bring about a relaxation response.  Each may have some of its own benefits as well.

For more information on Guided Meditation, click here.

For information on Mindfulness Meditation, click here.

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