Stress and Cancer

 

 

         Stress and Cancer 

    Stress Reduction Methods

    ←  releasing your emotions

 

        


The belief that stress could cause various diseases or influence their course has always been known. It can be found in all ancient religions and philosophies, and was emphasized in Ayurvedic principles and practices that have persisted for more then 3500 years. The notion that cancer might in some way be related to emotional stress is as old as the history of recorded medicine

Over the past several decades, numerous studies have continued to confirm the important influences stressful emotions can exert with respect to the development and progression of different diseases, and particularly malignant growth. Conventional medicine is finally beginning to understand how profoundly negative stress can harm your physical health, making you vulnerable to all kinds of diseases like cancer.

       

Stress affects the functioning of the immune system and it even worsens symptoms of most of the diseases and disorders. The chances of development of cancer are more if the immune system is not functioning well.

The complex relationship between physical and psychological health is well researched. Scientists know that psychological stress can affect the immune system, the body’s defense against infection and disease, including cancer. They have discovered that everyday emotional stress can be a trigger for the growth of tumors. Any sort of trauma, emotional or physical, can act as a "pathway" between cancerous mutations, bringing them together in a potentially deadly mix.


       


Having a diagnosis of cancer adds tremendous anxiety to an already stressed life.


Managing stress is important for cancer prevention but if you already have cancer it is imperative that you don't get stressed out. Stress wreaks havoc in the body and brings you further away from homeostasis.

The moment there is a diagnosis of cancer stress levels go through the roof. The thread of stress to the body did not pass when the individual received a diagnosis of a serious illness, like cancer. Depending on the persons personal coping style, the body may stay in a state of high alert and hormonal chaos for a long time.

For the newly diagnosed poorly cooping patient, this is adding more chaos to his immune system, and this, even before the treatment has begun! Minimal attention is currently given to the impact of such chronic stress and its proven negative effect on the body and mind.


"Once you have cancer, then the presence of stress and stress-related states like pessimism and hopelessness are associated with the progression of cancer and decreased survival".


The emerging field of behavioural medicine and psychoneuroimmunology are seeking to correct this situation and provide patients with additional tools for stress awareness and management. Scientist suggest that 80% of modern man's diseases are psychosomatic and stress related. With stress comes a sharp energy consumption. The reaction puts the entire body in a state of readiness, and whether the cause is inside the body or outside, it will cause a person to become completely drained. 

      

If your emotions play such a significant role in your health, and I’m convinced they do, treating your emotions becomes an essential part of optimal health.

Emotional Health and Cancer

Emotional Health and Healing

Serious illness can cause enormous and frequent ongoing stresses to the body. My intention here is to encourage you to consider what stress is for you, what causes it and how you can best manage it to enhance your healing response.

How you manage your stress is very important for your recovery. Stress taxes an immune system that is already compromised. It zaps your energy, leaving you irritable, angry and depressed. You cannot afford this. It will drain you!


    

Stress Is Normal


Stress is a person’s physiological, psychological and behavioural response to a change in his environment which allows him to adapt to it. By means of this response, the organism prepares to act in a new situation. For this reason a stress reaction is in fact not always negative, it is a necessary response to be able to respond to change and come to terms with it.

Stress is a normal part of life. The body's stress responses are your first line of defense in life-threatening situations. If you encounter a lion in the jungle or a mugger on the street, stress triggers your body to produce an adrenalin rush that helps you run away faster or defend yourself with greater speed, strength, and quick decision-making.

Stress also serves as a stimulus to act and grow, which helps you adapt to ever-changing and ever-demanding environments. Therefore, stress in and of itself isn't negative. It's part of human life.

If the stress situation persists and the person does not have the right resources to cope with the situation and establish a new balance, then the stress that the organism has to endure may be detrimental to the health. At this point professional help is recommended in order to activate the existing resources and develop new strategies to face the challenges.


A little stress can do us good - it pushes us to compete and innovate.

If we get to relaxed all we can do is sleep. However, the pressures of outer life or inner conflict can force us to become so aroused that we are so wired and become emotionally fragile, tired, but sleepless, more wired, but accomplish less. Having gone beyond healthy fatigue and ignoring feelings and needs, each extra demands become a burden inexorably decreasing overdrawn energy reserves. With no clear way of earning more energy for living, you slide into exhaustion and illness. However, if you don't learn how to address stress in a healthy way, it will have an effect on your well being and health. Handling stress poorly can shorten your life and hasten the spread of cancer.

        


Prolonged Stress is the Issue


While stress is a normal part of life, prolonged stress is another story. Daily life doesn't usually require you to flee from a lion in the jungle, so it doesn't help your mind or body to continuously respond as if you are doing so.

Unfortunately, the human body responds to any stress in the same biological ways it responds to the lion, even though these responses are often unhelpful in dealing with the stress.

Rapid societal change in the past 30 years has led to prolonged stress for many people. Subsequently, the prevalence of stress-related illness has climbed at an alarming rate. 


Stress is a process, not a diagnosis.


The level of stress you feel depends a great deal on your attitude towards a particular situation. An event that may be stressful for you may be a mere hiccup for others. Some people seem to thrive on stress and even need it in order to get things done. As a clinical problem, however, stress occurs when the demands on you exceed, or you feel they exceed, your ability to cope and feel distress.


       


Managing stress is all about taking charge:


of your thoughts, emotions, schedule, and the way you deal with problems… Allow people to help. People want to help, just tell them how they can do it. Being with friends, sharing concerns, laughing - knowing you're not alone - is good for you and builds self-confidence. Find a hobby, take time to play.

 

A variety of factors can make you feel stressed, including:

  • Your environment, work,  home, etc...
  • Your lifestyle and
  • Emotional issues
Your attitude, personality and approach to life will influence how you respond to stress and the following factors all play part:
  • How you think about a problem
  • The different ways you cope with difficult situations
  • Your life experience and life history
  • Your self - esteem and self worth
  • Whether you have people around who can give you support.
There are as many different ways to relax and de-stress, as there are people. Find ways that work best for you. Keeping stress at a minimum is a very important goal on your road to wellness!
Doing your homework and being prepared helps to ease anxiety. Finding ways to relax are important, too. Meditation is an outstanding way to relax your mind and your body and replenish yourself. Taking time out for you is a great stress reducer! stress reductions methods

releasing your emotions


       


Why It’s Important to Master Stress


Stress can impact your short-term and long-term health, as well as have a negative impact on work performance and relationships.


Impact on health

Persistent reactions to stress can lead to:

  • Health conditions such as high blood pressure, heartbeat irregularities, insomnia, fatigue, digestive disorders, fertility problems, disruption of normal blood sugar control, and psychological dysfunction such as anxiety and depression.

  • Prolonged suppression of the immune system, resulting in high rates of disease, recurrences of latent conditions, and increased susceptibility to cancer.

How do I know when stress is affecting my body?

The effects of stress begin as a process.The process of stress has four steps.
1 - Feelings of anxiety and imbalance.

2 - Tension and physical symptoms of sore muscles or tension headaches.

3 - Nervous impulses such as an increased heart rate, breathing or blood pressure.

4 -  Stress is felt to a high intensity manifested by actual illness or an extreme level of energy such as in a “fight or flight” scenario.

Signs of stress :

Anger and irritability, restlessness, lack of concentration, etc. Side effects of stress also include overeating, weight gain, obesity which can lead to cardiovascular diseases and also to cancer in some cases.
These signals of discomfort and ailments are like an early warning system. If your present way of thought, emotions and living are reflected in your body, then these signs can make you aware of the possible need to change at a physical, psychological or spiritual level.
 

Impact on job performance

Do you feel stressed out at work?

Stress can impact job performance in a variety of ways, including:

  • Physical symptoms that recur on work days (for example, upset stomach, headaches)
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Dread of work days
  • Wanting to avoid or leave work
  • Emotional swings at work (for example, anger outbreaks or feelings of helplessness)
  • Procrastination
  • Inefficiency. Studies show that people under continual stress become less efficient and make more errors, even while they think they are still operating at maximum efficiency,

Stress can lead to burnout--emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a sense of low personal accomplishment that leads to decreased effectiveness at work.


       

Identify the sources of stress in your life

The first thing to do is become aware of what causes you stress and how you cope. Are your coping techniques helpful or destructive? How much is your attitude contributing to your stress? If you feel you are on the down slope towards stress and illness, it may be because there has been some resent disruption in your life or it is a building up of long time suppressed and ignored emotions and stress symptoms. If you can't eliminate or reduce a stressor, simply being aware of it can help you recognize when you need to take corrective action.

       

Some of the major characteristics of cancer prone individuals appear to be frequent feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, an inability to express anger or resentment, an unusual amount of self dislike and distress, and having suffered the loss of a meaningful emotional relationship, which can drain your energy and deplete your life force.

      

Dr. Hans Selye, the father of modern stress theory, once said that we are all born with a certain finite amount of what he called "adaption energy". Once it has been spent, it cannot be replenished. Ones this energy is used , burnout occurs. Dr. Selye also suggested that the stages of stress response are alarm, resistance, coping, exhaustion and recovery.

Learn about hidden sources of stress


  • Do you explain away stress as temporary (“I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather?
  • Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”).
  • Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?

Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.

 

      

 

1. What are your sources of stress? What can you do about them?

Once you know your sources of stress, see if you can do anything to reduce them. For example:

  • Can you work to resolve conflicts with others?
  • Can you prepare in advance for stressful situations, so you feel more confident going in?
  • Can you set realistic goals and let go of perfectionism or other unrealistic expectations you might have for yourself and/or others?
  • Can you deliberately choose to view change as a positive challenge, rather than a threat?

To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:

  • Ongoing stressful events / people / situations?
  • How do you cope? What did you do?
  • How you felt, both physically and emotionally.
  • What you did to make yourself feel better.

  • Stressful events / people / situations during the past 6 - 24 month?
  • How did you cope? What did you do?
  • How you felt, both physically and emotionally.
  • What you did to make yourself feel better.

  • Do you explain away stress as temporary (“I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather?

  • Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”).
  • Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?

Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.


2. How do you experience stress?

Knowing how you experience stress will help you recognize when you are at risk. When you are feeling stressed:

  • What are your symptoms or behaviors?
  • Do you become irritable?
  • Do you develop tense shoulders or get a headache?
  • Do you get stuck in negative thoughts?

Answering these questions could lead to greater awareness and understanding how stress affects you.


3. How do you cope with stress?

Do you have healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercise, meditation, or getting support from family and friends? Or do you overeat, watch too much TV, drink, smoke, or rely on other destructive coping practices to reduce stress?

The more certain you are of the strength of your coping skills, the less likely you are to feel overwhelmed by stressors.


        
 

Stress Assessment

Step 1: Assessment

To improve health and create positive outcomes, you first need to identify where you need to improve. It is also beneficial to identify where you have strengths because these can provide you energy to change.

Click the appropriate category for each question, then click Next when you have answered all the questions.

  • I am aware of the level of stress in my life:

Never -  Rarely – Sometimes – Often -  Always


  • I am aware of sources of stress in my life:

Never – Rarely – Sometimes – Often - Always


  • I am aware of where I hold stress in my body:

Never – Rarely – Sometimes – Often - Always


  • I am aware of the impact of stress on my thoughts and emotions:

Never – Rarely – Sometimes – Often - Always


  • I use healthy coping techniques to deal with stress (such as exercising, talking to a friend, or relaxing). :

Never - Rarely – Sometimes - Often Always


  • I have techniques to calm myself when I feel stressed (such as deep breathing or meditating):

Never – Rarely – Sometimes – Often - Always


  • I try to manage my time and focus on my priorities so I don't have as many stressors:

Never – Rarely – Sometimes - Often - Always


  • I can consciously shift a negative, defeatist, or anxious attitude to a more positive one:

      Never – Rarely – Sometimes – Often – Always


Step 2: Assessment Results

It’s a good thing you’re starting to look into a healthy lifestyle now.

Consider writing down any stress mastery skills not reflected in the previous questions under My additional strengths and My additional areas of improvement.

Additional Strengths:



My Areas of Improvement:

  • I am unaware of my stress level
  • I cannot identify my key sources of stress
  • I am not aware of where I hold stress in my body
  • I am not aware of the impact of stress on my thoughts and emotions
  • I do not use healthy coping techniques to deal with stress (such as exercising, talking to a friend, or relaxing)
  • I have no techniques to calm myself when I feel stressed (such as deep breathing or meditating)
  • I do not try to manage my time and focus on my priorities so I don't have as many stressors
  • I cannot consciously shift a negative, defeatist, or anxious attitude to a more positive one

Additional Areas of Improvement:




 

Step 3: Next Steps

Your assessment results offer a great starting point. Read them over and consider what you would like to improve or change about your stress mastery. Pinpointing your intentions is a necessary and empowering first step to achieving goals.

Once you have identified an area you would like to improve, proceed to set a goal. You can print, email, or save your assessment results as a Word file for later.


My Areas of Improvement

  • I am unaware of my stress level
  • I cannot identify my key sources of stress
  • I am not aware of where I hold stress in my body
  • I am not aware of the impact of stress on my thoughts and emotions
  • I do not use healthy coping techniques to deal with stress (such as exercising, talking to a friend, or relaxing)
  • I have no techniques to calm myself when I feel stressed (such as deep breathing or meditating)
  • I do not try to manage my time and focus on my priorities so I don't have as many stressors
  • I cannot consciously shift a negative, defeatist, or anxious attitude to a more positive one

 




      


Stress Management


What is the difference between stress management and stress reduction?

Stress management is a proactive approach to stress whereas stress reduction is a reactive approach to stress. In other words, stress management anticipates stressful events and works to minimize them. Stress reduction considers stress inevitable and works to reduce its negative effects.

Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun – plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on.


Look at how you currently cope with stress

Think about the ways you currently manage and cope with stress in your life. Your stress journal can help you identify them. Are your coping strategies healthy or unhealthy, helpful or unproductive? Unfortunately, many people cope with stress in ways that compound the problem.


Unhealthy ways of coping with stress.

These coping strategies may temporarily reduce stress, but they cause more damage in the long run:

 

  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much
  • Overeating or under-eating
  • Zoning out for hours in front of the TV or computer
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities
  • Using pills or drugs to relax
  • Sleeping too much
  • Procrastinating
  • Filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems
  • Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence

 


Learning healthier ways to manage stress


If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, it’s time to find healthier ones. There are many healthy ways to manage and cope with stress, but they all require change. You can either change the situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose, it’s helpful to think of the four As: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.

Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no “one size fits all” solution to managing it. No single method works for everyone or in every situation, so experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.


       


Avoid unnecessary stress


Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.

  • Take good care of yourself! You are special. Get enough       rest, eat well, have some fun, balance work and leisure time.

  • Know your limits! If a problem is beyond your control and can't be resolved or changed right now, don't fight the situation. Learn to accept it for the moment, until such time as you can take steps to change it.

  • Be a participant in your life and healing.
One way from becoming bored, sad lonely, is to go where it is all happening; sitting alone by yourself can leave you frustrated, sad and lonely. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, get involved and become an participant. Help yourself by helping others. Get actively involve in your healing, take charge of your health situation, empower yourself.

  • Learn how to say “no” -  Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, refuse     to accept added responsibilities when you’re close to            reaching them. Taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress.

  • Its ok to cry. A good cry can be a healthy way to bring       relief to your anxiety and might even prevent any physical symptoms, like headaches,stomach aches, etc....

  • Avoid people who stress you out - If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person or end the relationship entirely.

  • Take control of your environment - If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off. If traffic’s got you tense, take a longer but less-traveled route. If going to the market    is an unpleasant chore, do your grocery shopping online.

  • Avoid hot-button topics - If you get upset over religion or politics, cross them off your conversation list. If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion.

  • Pare down your to - do list  - Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the              “musts.” Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the          bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.

  • If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.

  • Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will        likely remain the same.

  • Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, you’ll have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.

  • Be more assertive. Don’t take a backseat in your own life. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate       and prevent them. If you’ve got an exam to study for and your chatty roommate just got home, say up front that you only have five minutes to talk.

  • Manage your time better. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if         you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend               yourself, you can alter the amount of stress you’re under.

 
 
You can read and learn more about stress management, stress relief and emotional release  methods by clicking on the following links:
stress reduction methods
releasing your emotions
Yoga
Meditation
Laughter therapy
Nutrition and diet

Healthy Boundaries

 


 

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