People diagnosed with breast cancer have many unique sources of stress. Finding outlets to manage your stress, such as talking with a trusted friend or unfurling your yoga mat, can give you established coping mechanisms to turn to when you need them.
Here are four ways you can create a proactive emotional health strategy, while going through breast cancer.
1. Get Active
Regular exercise, such as yoga, can help reduce stress and anxiety and give you a sense of control over your body. You don’t have to do a lot of exercise to achieve the benefits. Even simple activities, such as walking several times a week or practicing yoga, can lower stress and improve your quality of life.
2. Prioritize Self-Care
Focus on finding daily activities that not only make you feel good but also relieve stress and improve your well-being. Spending 10 minutes of quality time for you each day could mean reading a magazine, meditating or playing with your pet.
Finding quiet moments in your day to reflect and quiet your mind, such as spending a few minutes in the car after you get home from work or running errands, can help you transition from the hectic pace of your day to being at home.
Meditating can be another helpful tool to prioritize time to relax and unwind. Mindfulness meditation uses specific breathing methods and may include guided imagery, as well as other relaxation and stress reduction techniques. Research shows mindfulness meditation may reduce stress, anxiety and fear.
Other ways to lower stress and anxiety include journaling and listening to music.
3. Talk to Someone
Social support offers emotional support, practical help and advice through interactions with people in your life, such as family members, friends, spiritual advisors, co-workers and supervisors and healthcare providers.
You may feel more comfortable talking one-on-one with a counselor or therapist or prefer to only share your feelings and thoughts with close family and friends. Everyone has different needs. It’s important to find a healthy support system that works for you.
For those who are comfortable, talking with a trained mental health provider, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor or clinical social worker, can reduce stress and improve mental well-being and quality of life. Mental health counseling can combine techniques such as coping skills and relaxation exercises to help reduce stress.
4. Join a Support Group
Some people prefer one-on-one counseling, while others prefer counseling in a group setting. Support groups can increase your network of people who can support you in your emotional health journey.
You may need to attend a support group a few times before you feel comfortable sharing with others or asking questions. Finding the right support group is essential. Be open-minded. You may need to try a few different support groups before finding the right one for you.
If you or a family member need to talk to someone, call our Breast Care Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN. Helpline calls are answered by a trained and caring staff member Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. EST. Our helpline provides free, professional support services to people diagnosed with breast cancer and their families. You can also email the helpline at firstname.lastname@example.org.