Need to relax? Here are nine easy ways to help ease your stress

Relaxation and relieving stress may help you remain strong and focused during your cancer treatment.

It may seem hard to relax these days when there are so many rules in place to help us stay safe from COVID-19. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Make sure you’re social distancing. Add a cancer diagnosis and treatment schedule to the mix, and the stress may seem overwhelming. If you’re a cancer patient, however, these new rules of social engagement are critical to helping you avoid a COVID-19 infection and the potentially severe symptoms the virus may cause.

As hard as it may seem, it’s even more important that we learn ways to relax and shed the stress and relieve the tension. Constant stress can affect the immune system, disrupt sleep and cause digestive issues and pain. Relaxing not only feels good, but it can also provide both physical and emotional benefits before, during and after cancer treatment. Here are nine ways to relieve stress on your own, which can help you remain strong and focused, both during treatment and in these tough times.

Take a deep breath: Taking deep breaths can lower your heart rate and slow the release of stress hormones. Focus on pulling from your diaphragm, instead of your chest, in order to slow your breath and more fully release tension from the body. 

Exercise/yoga: Being active is a popular way to release some tension. It can also help in maintaining a healthy weight, which is important when going through cancer treatment. Yoga is one example of a combining exercise with a stress-busting activity. Focus on whatever activity you enjoy the most and give it a try whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed. Be sure to consult your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.

Meditate: After learning how to reach the proper state of relaxation through meditation, with the help of a professional, you can meditate on your own at any time to relieve stress. 

Take a bath: Soaking in warm water can help relax tense muscles, and it also offers an excuse to shut the world out and enjoy some time alone. Try a bubble bath or aromatherapy bath salts to enhance the soothing experience. 

Read a book: Getting engrossed in a good book is another way to keep your mind occupied so your body can unwind. Whether you are reading a literary classic or a fun novel, choose a book that keeps you engaged. 

Keep a journal: When you’re on your own and thoughts are weighing heavily on your mind, try writing them down. Releasing these thoughts can help you feel better and help you to relax. 

Listen to music: Studies have shown that simply listening to music can help you feel relaxed. Try listening to music next time you receive chemotherapy to keep your mind busy and help you feel calm. 

Find a hobby: Engaging in a hobby that you enjoy, such as knitting, scrapbooking or drawing, can keep you focused on positive endeavors. 

Disconnect: We all rely on our cell phones and computers throughout the day, but try to consciously take a moment to “unplug.” You may be surprised how restful it is to avoid electronic contact for just 30 minutes a day.

You can also share these ideas with a loved one who may need assistance in coping with the whirlwind of new feelings that you both may be experiencing.

If you’re a cancer survivor or in active treatment and are concerned about how the COVID-19 situation may impact you or your care, please contact your care team.

Learn about the do’s and don’ts of supporting the immune system.