It’s safe to say that most people experience some stress every day. Healthy coping techniques like deep breathing and physical activity can help you manage this kind of everyday stress. But what about managing stress when you are also trying to manage cancer? Managing the stress and anxiety around a breast cancer diagnosis along with trying to manage day-to-day stress can be overwhelming.
Stressors include the diagnosis itself, treatment options, changes to routine and daily living, and managing the disease to get a good outcome and prevent recurrence. Your stress level will likely never be higher than during this time. Use these tips to help stay in control during this challenging time:
People who can identify and express both positive and negative emotions are less likely to feel overwhelmed, isolated, and stressed about a breast cancer diagnosis. The National Cancer Institute indicates that patients are more able to cope when they are “honest about their emotions, are aware of their own feelings and are able to share them with others … are able to accept their feelings without thinking of them as right or wrong or good or bad and are willing to work through their emotions, and have support from others who are willing to listen and accept their feelings.”
Finding a person or group of people you can lean on is essential. A professional counselor, social worker, pastor, or priest are able to listen and provide support.
Find support groups
Adding to your support network by joining a support group can pay off. Support groups are full of people who have been there before or are currently going through the same stressors as you. A support group provides a safe and open space for identifying and expressing positive and negative emotions.
Write down how you are feeling. Just allow yourself to write whatever comes to mind rather than worrying about how you are writing it or what others would think if they read it. Set a timer for 15 minutes. After that time, close your journal and go on with other daily activities. Keep the pages you write or shred them.
Get physical activity
Even 10 minutes of walking can lower your stress level. Getting outside and breathing in some fresh air is enough to alleviate some of the stress symptoms you might be experiencing.
Practice deep breathing and mindfulness
Each day, take a few moments to sit in a quiet space and focus on your breathing. Take a few deep breaths and bring your awareness to the present moment. Practicing mindfulness for a few moments each day greatly decreases stress and anxiety.
These website have more information on managing the stress associated with breast cancer.
- Taking Time: Support for People with Cancer (cancer.gov/cancertopics/takingtime)
- Breast Cancer Support & Education (upmc.com/patients-visitors)
- PDQ® Supportive and Palliative Care Editorial Board. PDQ Adjustment to Cancer. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/feelings/anxiety-distress-pdq. Accessed 10/08/2018. [PMID: 26389325]