At our Arizona cancer center, we base our care on the interaction of the patient’s mind and body, a dual approach that’s designed to best relieve the disease’s symptoms. Stress is one of the primary issues our medical staff targets because it is directly related to the breakdown of a person’s immune system.
At EuroMed, our aim is always to boost the patient’s immune system. By helping our patients lower their stress, we help them both fight the disease and have a better quality of life. Here are 5 primary ways to lower stress during cancer treatment:
Aromatherapy & Essential Oils
Aromatherapy, and complementary therapies in general, play an important role in cancer treatment by relieving stress and anxiety. In one study, researchers found that all of the participants responded positively to a lavender essential oil, with decreased pulse rates and blood pressure in addition to reporting lower levels of pain, anxiety, and depression. The body absorbs oils either by breathing them in or through the skin via baths, compresses, and massage.
Watch anyone who is used to be in a high-stress, pressure situation and chances are you’ll see them take a deep breath. Controlled breathing is one of the most effective ways to reduce both chronic and acute anxiety. Anxious moments are typically accompanied by shallow breathing, which deprives the body of oxygen and increases the anxiety in a vicious cycle. Our center teaches patients how to control their breathing in a way that slows the heart rate and leads to calm.
You may have heard people talk about “being in the moment.” That’s a good description for meditation. There are different types of meditation, including prayer, but the common goal is to set aside specific times during the day to relax the mind. These meditative periods can be a few minutes or longer. Our minds have a natural tendency to jump from thought to thought, which can lead to stress if those thoughts include worry. Meditation takes practice, so we encourage patients not to be discouraged if it isn’t immediately effective.
Some patients find different hobbies therapeutic and relaxing. Art therapy is a distinct stress-reduction technique that is used in various ways, including helping patients diagnosed with cancer. Research shows it’s especially effective in reducing depression and fatigue experienced by cancer patients. Art therapy often combines the benefits of guided imagery meditation and support groups, which are discussed below.
There are a number of support groups designed to meet specific needs of cancer patients. Although a general support group for cancer patients may be helpful for some people, many individuals are looking for a group that addresses unique experiences. For example, many women diagnosed with breast cancer are more comfortable talking with others in the same situation. Talking with people who are going through the same treatments and anxiety can help you feel that you are not alone.
Once patients understand the fundamentals of aromatherapy, meditation, and breathing exercises, they can be performed at home or any other convenient place. Combined with attending art therapy sessions and a support group, these methods are effective ways of lowering stress throughout cancer treatment.