Both scientific research and human experience show that our minds and bodies are connected. In other words, we can accomplish what we set our minds to do. Because of this ability, cancer patients may be able to modify the progression of their illness through various relaxation techniques.
Randomized trials show that a cancer patient’s state of mind, how they experience symptoms, and their level of depression and anxiety can be helped through structured programs that include mediation/mindfulness, relaxation, yoga and/or music therapy. Quality of life, happiness and feelings of well-being play a vital part in improving longevity and cure rates for cancer patients.
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Simply sit quietly and breathe deeply. If desired, repeat a word or phrase that helps you control your thoughts and breathing to help you relax. You may choose to participate in mindfulness mediation, where you focus on only the present moment and your breathing. Or, you can simply take deep breaths from your diaphragm, hold for a few seconds, and slowly breathe out. Any form of meditation can help ease stress, improve coping skills and enhance well-being. Even meditating for a few minutes each day can help you relax.
Progressive muscle relaxation relaxes your entire body, one muscle group at a time. It can help cancer patients manage side effects of treatment such as anxiety, stress, depression, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, pain, and trouble sleeping. Simply lie down somewhere quiet, then tense and relax each group of muscles. Begin with your feet and work your way up. Flex and relax your toes, feet, ankles, lower legs, upper legs, belly, chest, fingers, arms, shoulders, neck, and face. When you reach your head, you should feel calmer and more at ease.
Guided imagery and visualization harness the power of imagination. One session daily can help ease stress and anxiety, slow your heart rate and breathing, and lower your blood pressure. One session daily can also boost your immune system to help you heal more quickly, relieve symptoms of cancer, and manage side effects of treatment. Simply sit or lie down in a quiet room and close your eyes. Deeply breathe in and out. Picture a calming, pleasant image, such as a lake with mountains in the distance. Engage all of your senses. Feel the breeze on your face. Smell the flowers. Hear the wind blowing across the water. Imagine your stress in a small boat moving away from both the shore and you. Watch the boat float away into the horizon until it is no longer visible.
Yoga and tai chi blend deep breathing and relaxation. Both types of exercise can ease anxiety, depression and stress while lessening pain and fatigue. They can also improve the immune system, enhance sleep, and improve both quality of life and emotional well-being. Join a class or watch a DVD for guidance on practicing yoga or tai chi.
If you or someone you know is battling cancer, reach out to Chix 4 a Cause to learn more about our Gifts of Love program. Visit http://www.chix4acause.org today.