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6 Healthy & Easy Ways to Deal with Anxiety

The effects of a cancer diagnosis, treatment and life after cancer can lead to feelings of anxiety and isolation, especially when outside factors can cause added stress. At Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, we’re committed to improving survivorship and lessening the burden of cancer, and with COVID-19, we want to do even more to provide coping mechanisms as we navigate the current situation. Following are six ways to deal with anxiety:

Try breathing exercises

Noticing and controlling your breathing is the quickest and most effective way of calming your nervous system. By paying attention to your breathing, you can shift from a mindset of excitement to one of calm by intentionally taking deeper, longer inhales and slower extended exhales.

Keep a routine

Strive to keep some level of normalcy in your everyday life by continuing to do the things you usually do while at home. Take extra measures to take care of your body, such as maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet, exercise daily and get plenty of sleep. Stay informed, but do not overexpose yourself, as this can create even more stress and anxiety.

Connect with friends through technology

Feeling disconnected from social life can get overwhelming and may lead to feelings of isolation and depression for some. If this is the case, try to connect with your friends and loved ones through technology. Give them a call or FaceTime, talk through text or connect via social media. If you experience extreme effects from isolation and feel overwhelmed, you can call the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at (800) 985-5990. This helpline is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling helpline to support people experiencing emotional distress and can link to resources. Also, feel free to contact Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center with any questions or support needed.

Work on a new project or hobby

Engaging in any kind of hobby or project is extremely helpful in reducing anxiety during a stressful situation. Creating simple art has been shown to have a powerful effect on calming the body and focusing the mind. It can also help express feelings that are too difficult to put into words. Try doing activities you enjoy, such as doodling, journaling, reading, etc.

Practice meditation or yoga

Mindfulness meditation is the very simple process of sitting still and focusing your attention on your breathing. By carefully noticing each inhale and exhale, your scattered thoughts quickly become focused on your body and your nervous system can relax. Yoga helps to ease the physical and mental discomfort that is caused by anxiety, as well as enhance your overall mood and sense of well-being. Visit https://marybird.org/services/survivorship/guided-imagery-and-meditation/ for free guided meditations.

Create a safe space

Your imagination can help bring relief to your anxious mind and body. In order to create a safe space, find a quiet spot and picture yourself in a special location that brings you comfort, whether imaginary or real. Notice what you hear, see and smell in this place. Allow yourself to become fully engaged in the image you’ve created in your mind and enjoy the safe, comfortable feeling it brings you.

Dealing with anxiety during stressful times is essential to the well-being of our patients. We are here for you and want to help in any way we can. For more information and tips on how to deal with anxiety during this time, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html.