Simple Techniques and Strategies to Manage Cancer-Related Stress

Simple Techniques and Strategies to Manage Cancer-Related Stress

cancer care

9/27/2023

Stress, a common factor in modern hectic lives, can have a profound impact on your overall health and well-being. Battling cancer is even more stressful, making it more difficult to manage and cope with the disease. Stress does not directly cause cancer, but long-term stress can weaken your immune system, aggravating the disease and associated symptoms. So, the intricate connection between stress and cancer cannot be overlooked.

Let us discuss how to manage stress to increase your cancer survival rates and overall health and well-being.

What Is Stress and How Does Your Body React to It?

Stress arising from daily routines and responsibilities affects one’s physical, mental, and emotional health. When you encounter a stressful situation, your body activates its defense system, known as the "fight-or-flight" response. This response is coordinated by the release of stress hormones, including epinephrine and norepinephrine, which prepare the body for action.

In this state, heart rate and blood pressure increase, breathing becomes shallow and rapid, and muscles tense up, ready to either confront the stressor or escape from it. However, prolonged and excessive stress can lead to various physical and psychological issues such as high blood pressure, digestive problems, difficulty concentrating, sleep issues, anxiety, infections like COVID-19, and depression.

Emotional and Physical Symptoms of Stress

Stress can cause different symptoms depending on its levels and how your body responds to it.

Emotional signs of stress include:

  • Irritability
  • Numbness
  • Sobbing
  • Feeling detached
  • Uncontrollable feelings or emotions

Physical signs of stress include:

  • Headaches
  • Rashes
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling sick
  • Cold
  • Reduced resistance to infections

The Impact of Stress on Cancer Patients

Chronic stress may cause cancer to aggravate and spread to other body parts. Norepinephrine hormones that are released as part of your body’s fight-or-flight response stimulate angiogenesis and metastasis. It may also activate neutrophils, a type of immune cell that helps tumors grow, and may also awaken dormant cancer cells.

Long-term stress may release a class of steroid hormones called glucocorticoids that may inhibit a tumor cell death called apoptosis and increase metastasis and resistance to chemotherapy. These hormones also prevent your immune system from identifying and combating cancer cells. Moreover, stress from cancer may decrease survival rates.

Tips on Coping with Cancer Stress

  • Steer clear of scheduling conflicts - Utilize a reliable organizational tool such as a day planner, phone, or online calendar. This will keep you on track with your schedule and activities.
  • Avoid overloading your schedule - When planning your day, ensure you leave ample time to complete one task before starting the next. Don’t overload yourself with too many tasks.
  • Seek Assistance - If managing your schedule becomes overwhelming, don't hesitate to seek assistance from a trusted individual.
  • Be mindful of your limit - If you lack the time, energy, or interest, turn down any unnecessary tasks/activities and set boundaries to yourself and others.
  • Prioritize your work - Begin by compiling a comprehensive list of your routine obligations, ranging from work assignments to household chores. If you don’t have time to complete them all, focus on the first few tasks on your list.
  • Break down your tasks – Breaking down your tasks into manageable steps can transform what feels like an overwhelming obstacle into a series of doable actions.
  • Focus your efforts on controllable things – Ensure to remain flexible to keep your stress levels low rather than wasting your efforts on trying to control uncontrollable things.
  • Get financial assistance – Get insurance to handle cancer expenses or talk with a financial advisor about managing the cost of cancer care.

Strategies to Manage Stress

Get hold of these strategies to manage stress:

  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes daily.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Spend some quality time outside.
  • Socialize with friends and family.
  • Do things and activities you enjoy.
  • Write a journal or learn a new hobby to keep yourself relaxed.
  • Get plenty of sleep.

Relaxation Techniques to Better Deal with Cancer

Dealing with cancer can be immensely overwhelming, both physically and emotionally. Incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine can provide a sense of peace and clarity, alleviating some of the anxiety and stress associated with the disease.

Here are some relaxation techniques that you can practice:

  • Relaxed or deep breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Mental imagery or visualization
  • Biofeedback
  • Progressive muscle relaxation

When to Visit a Healthcare Provider for Stress?

Medical assistance may be needed if:

  • Stress impacts your daily activities
  • You experience acute stress disorder symptoms

Visit Chesapeake Oncology Hematology Associates for Stress-Free Cancer Care

Are you or your loved one currently battling cancer and in need of exceptional care and support? Look no further than Chesapeake Oncology Hematology Associates. With a team of highly skilled and compassionate oncology specialists, we are dedicated to providing the highest quality of cancer care. Schedule an appointment with us today to fight off your cancer without stress.

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COHA

COHA is a leading group of oncologists that offer oncology services within Anne Arundel County, Howard County, and Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. We remain committed to bringing the best oncology and hematology services to the residents of this area. Our knowledge, skills, and experience will guide you toward the best treatment options for your health and lifestyle. We offer today’s most effective therapies, expertly and compassionately delivered in our infusion and medical centers.

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