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When a cancer diagnosis creates anxiety

If you or a loved one is undergoing cancer treatment, you may feel especially anxious. While a certain amount of stress is normal and even stimulating, chronic tension can take its toll on your body and mind. The methods below can help you put tension in its place and put the focus back on feeling at ease.

  • Educate yourself. Staying involved and active in your treatment can go a long way toward a healthier mind and body. Write down a list of questions you have for your doctor. Ask about any treatments, procedures or medications you would like to investigate or are uncertain of. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions, no matter how trivial they seem. If it would make you feel more comfortable, bring along a friend or a family member to act as your wellness advocate.
  • Put it in perspective. Keep in mind that stress is all too often part of a vicious cycle: Some of the tensions we feel may actually be a product of our own tendency to overreact. Instead of blowing a situation out of proportion, take a step back and reexamine it in a different light. Remind yourself that worry isn’t productive and will take time away from your most important priority: Taking care of yourself.
  • Stay connected. The support that friends and family have to offer can do wonders for reducing anxiety. Keeping close ties with others can also help ward off isolation and depression, conditions that intensify stress. Share a walk, talk on the phone, play a board game or simply sit and enjoy quiet times together.
  • Consider a support group. A support network may provide a willing ear and a new perspective. If you feel you would like to share in the experiences and insights of others in a similar situation, contact your treatment hospital for more information.
  • Focus on today. Tensions can mount when you mull over what happened yesterday or imagine what might happen tomorrow. Don’t let these thoughts sabotage your thinking. Instead, dedicate your energies to today.
  • Don’t do it all yourself. Instead of trying to juggle a handful of concerns at once, work out solutions individually. When handled this way, problems tend to shed some of their weight. And don’t try to handle everything yourself; ask for help when you need it. If you are feeling overwhelmed by household duties, for example, ask a family member or friend to take over chores.
  • Relax. Don’t forget all the things that bring you peace of mind. Soothing activities might include meditation, petting an animal, playing a favorite song, reading in a cozy chair or heading out into the woods to wonder at nature and breathe in the scent of fresh leaves.