Psychological Stress and Cancer
Psychological stress describes what people feel when they are under mental, physical, or emotional pressure. People who are able to use effective coping strategies to deal with stress, such as relaxation and stress management techniques, have been shown to have lower levels of depression, anxiety, and symptoms related to the cancer and its treatment.
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from plants to support and balance the mind, body, and spirit. It is used by patients with cancer mainly as a form of supportive care that may improve quality of life and reduce stress and anxiety.
Art Therapy is the spontaneous use of paint, pastels, clay or other art materials to help people communicate and overcome emotional and psychological difficulties. It is now considered a valuable therapeutic aid for people coping with illnesses and provides a means of communicating feelings and experiences, which may sometimes be difficult to put into words.
Autogenic therapy refers to a particular technique of mental exercises involving relaxation and autosuggestion, which aims to teach individuals to switch off the fight/flight/fight stress response at will.
A type of therapy that uses humor to help relieve pain and stress and improve a person’s sense of well-being. It may be used to help people cope with a serious disease, such as cancer. Laughter therapy may include laughter exercises, clowns, and comedy movies, books, games, and puzzles.
Massage treatment is the manipulation of muscles and soft tissue through kneading, rubbing, pressing, etc. Studies have shown that a massage will decrease stress, anxiety, depression, pain, and fatigue. Therefore, it is very beneficial in any cancer protocol. The connection among physical well-being, touch, and relaxation is very strong and can enhance the body’s own abilities to heal.
Mindfulness – Meditation
Core practices are: sitting meditation (breath awareness, focused attention), body scan (awareness of sensations in the body, 45 minute exercise), Hatha Yoga (mindful movement), walking meditation and insight meditation. The two most used mindfulness-based clinical interventions in oncology are: mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) therapy involves sequential tensing and relaxation of major skeletal muscle groups and aims to reduce feelings of tension, to lower perceived stress, and to induce relaxation.
Reports of patients who participated in PMR training following cancer treatment indicate that they experienced reduced state anxiety, pain, and symptoms of depression, as well as improvements in sleep parameters and overall quality of life.
Reiki is a natural non-invasive therapy that promotes healing through stress reduction, relaxation and balancing of your energy systems. Reiki helps the muscles and tissues relax resulting in an increase in the blood flow to the treated area. This helps to reduce stress and pain and quickens the healing process.
In cancer care, being spiritual can have a powerful positive effect on your outcome. Researchers with the Washington University School of Medicine have found that ovarian cancer patients had less stress and depression plus lower levels of certain factors related to tumor growth.
Yoga is a form of nonaerobic exercise that involves a program of precise postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. Yoga can be a useful method to help relieve some symptoms of chronic diseases such as cancer and can lead to increased relaxation and physical fitness.