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Lowering anxiety

Lowering anxiety

Posted by LPPK on Mar 11, 2019 2:44 pm

 Last week while walking through the cancer centre a fluorescent green booklet, How to Manage Your Anxiety, caught my eye.   As I read through the booklet I realized that I have used most of the recommended things to reduce my anxiety.
  1. Find Support  
    My family were very supportive; my husband and/or daughter went with me to all appointments and drove me to treatments, my sister in law, a breast cancer survivor, offered much practical advice, and my brother was a great support for my husband.
    canncerconnection.ca  was informative and supportive and I could connect  at any time of night or day and a response always came quickly.
  2. Focus on things that make you feel better
    I focused on the joy my family brings me and continued hosting our monthly family get togethers of potluck meals and games.
  3. Improve your sleep
    I found that reading or doing cross stitch in the evenings was a good way to calm down before sleep.
  4. Exercise and take care of your body
    I started going to weekly yoga classes and walking daily.
     Both of these activities got me out of the house, among other people doing normal activities and made me feel better physically and emotionally.
  5. Eat Well
    I worked towards a more balanced way of eating with more fruits and vegetables, more grains, more fish, less meat, and less sweets.    It has become a life choice and we continue to enjoy our new way of eating.
  6. Make lists of calming, enjoyable and useful activities
    I created an ‘18 for 2018’ list of activities.  A discussion here on cancerconnection.ca  got me started on it.  https://cancerconnection.ca/groups/forums/viewtopic/23/44/58423?post_id%20=%20286278#p286278
         It worked so well that I made a 19 for2019 list of items that need to be done,  things that are enjoyable, things that are new and things
        that will challenge me

  1. Try relaxation activities
    I tried a variety of activities,  yoga,  puzzles, painting, needlework, deep breathing and guided imagery to music were helpful.
Other items listed that I did not try were…
Face Your Fears
Avoid alcohol and quit smoking
Get counseling to help you cope
Take Prescribed medications

The top three things that helped reduce my anxiety were;  Make lists of calming, enjoyable and useful activities (I kept busy and didn’t have time to worry), Eat Well, and Exercise and take care of your body.

What did you did you do, or feel your could try, that reduced/will reduce your anxiety?

Re: Lowering anxiety

Posted by ashcon on Mar 11, 2019 3:35 pm


Great topic, and great list.  I found that over time, and with treatment plans in place, anxiety levels and intensity decreased.  I am one-year post treatment and I honestly don't think the anxiety will ever go away. Ever.  When I realized this, I decided it was important to come up with tools and tactics to deal with the anxiety, if it was going to be a part of the rest of my life.

The top 3 Anxiety-Reducing things that worked for me are/were:
1. Exercise.  Bike riding. Walking. Going to the Gym. Yoga. Not only did this get some hormones and endorphins going to boost my mood, but it also got me out socializing & meeting new people, making new friends. It's also the ultimate distractor, taking my mind off my problems.    And it strengthened my body's ability to get through 2 surgeries, chemo, and radiation with minimal side effects.  
2. Counselling:  The first time I met with my oncologist, I asked for, and received a referral to the hospital's social worker.  She was great.  As it turns out, I managed to stay somewhat 'sane' throughout my treatment, but it was just as important to receive that validation that I was "OK', as it would have been to receive psychological/emotional treatment, if I needed it.   I also found the social workers have amazing knowledge and connections with other resources, like navigating the various government services for financial assistance, disability, etc.
3. Eat Well.  I've always been a foodie.  Cancer gave me a new excuse to try out more recipes, this time more plant-based and gluten free.   Bonus: This was a good distraction activity or hobby for me, and it also gave me an excuse to crank the music and dance around the kitchen while preparing new recipes, which I believe helps make the food taste better.

My daughters and family, friends, and co-workers were very important to me as a helpful support network, but (odd as it may sound) their presence also caused me stress at times.  Sometimes.  I know that may sound weird. But it was usually when they looked at me with sad, "puppy-dog" eyes about my condition - and I felt like I had to cheer THEM up.  That stressed me out. And even caused me anger sometimes. 
My social worker was good at helping me to identify what was causing the anger I was feeling, and ways to let it out and vent it, without hurting the ties or relationships with my loved ones.  

Re: Lowering anxiety

Posted by LPPK on Mar 11, 2019 4:26 pm

ashcon‍   I agree with you that the anxiety never really goes away completely.  My breast cancer was diagnosed when I was feeling perfectly fine...which has resulted in a little niggling thought that crops up at times to make me wonder if it will hit again.  
I am turning intoa  foodie and find that preparing new recipes and then enjoying the multi-colours and flavours makes for a great eating experience. 

Re: Lowering anxiety

Posted by Elizabeth06 on Mar 11, 2019 5:09 pm

Hi LPPK‍ ,
reducing anxiety is an important life skill.  When diagnosed with stage four breast cancer I knew I had to figure this out.  The rest of my life will be monitoring thru scans and dealing with progression, looking for new treatment and dealing with side effects
 living in that high state of anxiety robs you of energy that would be better spent on enjoying everyday life.
i sought out group settings, on dealing with cancer.  Talking to others in similar circumstances let me know I was not alone and gave me access to information on what to expect from different treatments.
When I have an upcoming scan, there is always a level of scanxiety, but, I think I’ve gotten better at dealing with it by sticking to what I know to be true right now.  Don’t get too far ahead of yourself and trust how you are feeling.
so, I think I’ve completed a couple of things on your list.  Finding support, calming the mind and focusing on positives in life.


Re: Lowering anxiety

Posted by Brighty on Mar 11, 2019 5:14 pm

LPPK‍  and ashcon‍  what a great topic!     I have struggled with anxiety for years.    It was amplified by a tenfold when my fiancé was diagnosed with cancer.     The waiting, the scans, the biopsies, the procedures.   it was so scary.     I felt like I was constantly  on edge.     I was terrified each time a new scan or test came up.    Losing him was my worst nightmare.       I tried  most of the things you suggested.  I exercised.   That helped calm my nerves and get out all the built up tension.      When he was first diagnosed, I was in therapy 5 days per week balling my eyes out.       I did not eat well at that time.     I couldn't keep anything down.   The anxiety was so strong that I was unable to settle down and eat properly.        I grabbed a muffin or ice cream here and there when I was on the way to and from hospitals, but that's it.       Sleeping didn't go so well either.   The cancer stuff  was always on my mind.   I had to resort to upping my sleep meds.       The relaxing activities didn't even go well.  I couldn't calm myself down for one minute enough to focus on anything.    I did however, manage to go to work.  I have no idea how, but the routine and keeping busy with the kids and being amongst people who cared really helped me.        My fiancé did none of the above.   He shut himself down the minute he was diagnosed.   Wanted nothing to do with anyone, no contact with anyone, no this, no that.       I tried to help him but I couldn't do anything.        Slowly now I'm returning to my regular self but still find my focus is not so great, my memory is poor now and I still can't sit still for long periods of time.       So like you said, the anxiety kind of always lingers around.   You just have to find different ways to deal with it that work...even if only temporarily.      

Re: Lowering anxiety

Posted by Essjay on Mar 12, 2019 9:59 am

I’ve lived with anxiety all my life, and it was especially high during the diagnosis and treatment planning phase.

i agree with all the hints and techniques shared already.

something I have found especially helpful when I feel overwhelmed is to take action. In my list of things I’m worrying about there’s usually at least one thing I can do something about or take an action towards dealing with it. Taking action might be making an appointment with a counsellor to talk things through. Once you’ve made the appointment you feel a bit better because you’ve taken control. When I was feeling overwhelmed during diagnosis, I was worrying about how my husband would cope with grocery shopping (and how we would end up with real food in the cupboards rather than cookies and donuts). A friend suggested ‘click and collect’ at the grocery store and this gave me something to investigate and a tool in our toolbox for coping. 

Other useful things are learning mindfulness and meditation, to help with relaxation. Exercise is my real saviour - a real stress reliever. And baking - filling the freezer with healthy food.

I also find that focusing on others really helps me. It’s far easier for me to turn my mind to someone else’s problems than my own, and often this helps me put my own into perspective. Plus I feel good because ive helped someone else!

Re: Lowering anxiety

Posted by LPPK on Mar 12, 2019 7:51 pm

Sometimes just doing something totally different can change how you are feeling.  Today I went with my daughter and grandchildren to the Museum of Nature Butterflies in Flight exhibit. 
The colours of the butterflies, their mingling with the plants and people,  and the wonder on people's faces as the butterflies landed on them gave a sense of well being.




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Re: Lowering anxiety

Posted by Lacey_adminCCS on Mar 13, 2019 9:59 am

LPPK‍ such a great reminder to try new things. Great pictures!

I have been to a similar place so magical when they land on you.