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Stress Management


Stress-Management for Survivors of Childhood Cancer


There is no "right" way to manage your stress or the feelings associated with your stress. It is important to discover ways of managing your stress that work for you. Feelings of anxiety or worry are often best handled by talking them out. Some people find it most helpful to talk openly and frankly with family and friends. Others prefer to speak with health professionals, clergy, psychotherapists or other patients. Expressing your feelings with someone you trust can do much to reduce worry and anxiety. Because our thoughts influence mood, behavior and physical reactions, most people who are anxious, depressed or angry are helped by making changes in their thinking. But many problems also require changes in behavior, physical functioning and environment (e.g., learning to say no to unreasonable demands, spending more time with supportive people, reducing stress).

Strong moods signal that something important is going on in your life. Those who have survived a life threatening illness very commonly develop strong feelings relating to their treatment or the impact of their illness on their life. Sometimes such feelings are not appreciated until time has passed after the onset of the illness. Identifying moods and their precipitating factors is a first step in identifying particular interventions to improve the situation.


Stress involves changes that you must adjust to. Stress can be experienced from your environment, your body and your thoughts. Stress, some feel, begins with your appraisal of a situation--how you perceive, label and interpret your experience. Since stress can damage almost every body system, leading to disease, stress management is a critical factor in helping to promote health and recovery.

Relaxation has a recuperative, healing effect, allowing a person respite from external stress or internal stress relating to thoughts. The relaxation response normalizes physical, mental and emotional functioning.

The first step in reducing stress is to become aware of the major sources of stress in your life. It may also be helpful to become aware of how and where body tension is felt in different parts of your body.

There are scores of different techniques useful for managing stress. A few of the more popular techniques are listed and described below:

-Assertiveness training: a source of considerable stress in your life may come from how you interact with other people. Assertiveness training involves learning to state your feelings and assert your rights in a calm objective manner.

-Autogenics: this is a program that teaches you to respond quickly to commands to relax. Autogenic training involves learning to relax by concentrating on your body (e.g., imagining spreading warmth and heaviness throughout your body), focusing meditatively on your mind (e.g., imagining and visualizing different ideas) and special exercises for dealing with specific difficulties.

-Biofeedback: the use of instruments to become aware of bodily processes (e.g., muscle tension, skin temperature, brain wave activity, blood pressure) to help bring them under voluntary control (to promote relaxation).

-Cognitive behavioral approaches: