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Cancer Stress Reduction: Using Integrative Therapies

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Living with any serious di​sease is difficult. 

Thankfully, wisdom shared by many of the 15 million Americans living beyond cancer is helping researchers identify supportive tools for individuals and their loved ones. 

Just as care of one’s body is important during and beyond treatment, so too is gentle care of one’s thoughts and emotions.

Although the term “complementary and alternative medicine” is understood to represent approaches outside of conventional medicine, the term “integrative therapies” is not well understood.

According to the National Institutes of Health, integrative medicine is defined as “a practice that combines both conventional and complimentary treatments for which there is evidence of safety and effectiveness.”

Relaxation techniques and other mind/body practices can help calm your mind and sharpen your ability to focus. 

The American Cancer Society offers information on exploring safe and practical integrative techniques:

  • Guided Imagery: This technique combines deep breathing and meditation, allowing you to imagine a peaceful scene or setting. Guided imagery exercises can help you counter negative thoughts so the body can be more relaxed. One imagery exercise is called Creative Visualization and has been used in sports psychology, business and other areas where people confront challenges.
  • Music Therapy: Music therapy is the use of music by health care professionals to promote healing and enhance quality of life. It may be used to encourage emotional expression, promote social interaction, relieve symptoms, and for relaxation. Some studies have found that music therapy can lower heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.
  • Mindfulness Meditation: With this technique, you relax your mind by focusing on your breath. As thoughts “jump around,” one practices “non-judgmental awareness” – simply observing the pattern of thoughts and gently guiding them back to focus on your breath. Non-judgmental awareness allows you to separate yourself from emotions and sensations rather than getting pulled into them. One benefit of this type of meditation is that you can practice it while seated quietly or when doing daily activities. Repetitive prayers are another form of meditation.


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