Radiation therapy has various physical side effects, but the process of cancer treatment undoubtedly impacts your mental well-being, as well. Experimental evidence from the National Cancer Institute suggests that psychological stress can affect a tumor’s ability to grow and spread. This implies that a healthy mind translates to a healthy body.
Stress is inevitable; that’s a universal truth. Fortunately, there are several ways you can cope with its effects. Here are five of our favorite options for overcoming stress and anxiety to promote your mental wellness and emotional resilience during your radiation therapy.
Physical Activity: Get Moving
Light exercise or a fitness routine consisting of strength and aerobic exercises are recommended for patients under cancer care. If you need to start with an easier alternative to build up your stamina, try light yoga or walking for at least 10 minutes a day. The idea is to get your blood pumping to reduce stress hormones and stimulate the production of happy hormones called endorphins.
Meditation: Get Centered
Regularly practicing meditation and mindfulness offers long-term benefits, especially in reducing stress and anxiety. Cancer Research UK found out that meditation can:
- Control pain and fatigue
- Improve sleep
- Manage feelings of sickness
- Lower blood pressure
Find the perfect spot and meditate for 20 to 30 minutes a day to ease your agitation and restlessness.
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Sleep: Get Your Zs
Sleeping for seven to eight hours a night meets the basic requirement for your body to function properly. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try these:
- Create a consistent sleep schedule
- Ensure your surroundings are conducive (dark, cool temperature)
- Avoid caffeine, sugar and other stimulants
- Discontinue the use of electronic or light-producing devices 30 minutes before bedtime.
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Social and Emotional Support: Get With Your Tribe
Having cancer and going through treatment can make you feel isolated. Surround yourself with people who can provide emotional and motivational support; they’re an essential lifeline. For health reasons, you may turn to an online social support group of fellow cancer patients, but video chats or even phone calls with family and friends are also beneficial.
Nutrition: Get the Good Stuff
Nourishing your body with nutrient-dense foods also nourishes your mind. Your doctor may recommend a calorie-dense and high-protein diet for weight maintenance. Whatever your recommended eating plan, your healthful diet should still include:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Probiotics and prebiotics (fermented foods or supplements)
Cut out refined foods, processed meats, high-sodium foods and beverages loaded with sugar. And if you want to boost your metabolism and maintain your weight, eat meals frequently in smaller portions–about 6 to 8 times a day. Choose colorful or flavorful foods that tempt your eyes and delight your taste buds.