Fucoidan Health News May: Reducing Stress (Tips for Patients & Caregivers)

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Reducing Stress: Tips for Patients & Caregivers

Cancer diagnosis causes life-changing experiences for patients, caregivers, and even family members. Apart from pressure in the regular roles like home, school, and work, it causes severe stress. Both the cancer patient and caregiver usually find the treatment process stressful too. Such stress and pressure often lead to emotional distress, insomnia, and weakened immunity, eventually affecting treatment progress.

If you or someone you know is now a caregiver or a cancer patient, here are some suggestions that can help in stress management:

Advice for cancer patients: Dealing with stress

  • Try prioritizing your tasks:
  • It is common to experience fatigue and exhaustion during the cancer treatment. We recommend planning and prioritizing your everyday schedules. You can prioritize urgent matters first, doing the rest later. You can also ask your friends and family to help!

  • Do things that make you happy:
  • Cheering yourself up is the best way to tame stress. You can watch a comedy film or a show, play with kids and your pets, or read interesting books. Your cerebral cortex is activated when you smile, triggering the activation of your face, chest, and abdomen muscles. In addition, laughter boosts the immune system, thus improving your resistance to disease.

  • Join a support group:
  • Quite often, even if family and friends are most supportive, they cannot understand what a cancer patient feels or go through. So, consider joining some cancer support groups. Share your experience with the other cancer patients, talk to each other and learn more about dealing with cancer. This may be helpful in lessening your feelings of loneliness.

  • Give and get more hugs:
  • Oxytocin is released when we cuddle, which helps reduce loneliness and anger, lower blood pressure levels, and especially cut down on stress. At the same time, our body releases a neurotransmitter known as serotonin, which is closely related to our emotions. In other words, a tender touch brings us happiness, love, excitement, gratitude, and more. This enhances our connections and friendships with one another.

Cancer patients sharing their experiences: How did we deal with stress?

  • Mr. Zhang:
  • “Before my first chemotherapy treatment, I was so nervous that I couldn’t fall asleep. I was worried about the side effects and feared that the recovery could be very difficult. I didn’t tell my family about this as I didn’t want anyone to be worried. So I tried to handle things on my own and distracted myself instead. I started playing video games to take my attention away from the fear, and I eventually forgot about it. Slowly, I managed to destress myself and fell asleep shortly afterward. I recommend everyone to do something they like to fight their fears, so they can shift their attention to other things and find peace within themselves.”

  • Mrs. Lee:
  • “I love singing. When I am unhappy or stressed, I sing to express my thoughts and emotions. The pandemic stopped me from going to karaoke, so I started singing at home. Thanks to technology, there are plenty of mobile applications that can be downloaded, and my daughters and grandchildren have become my biggest fans. I strongly recommend this stress reliever to everyone.”

4 Tips to destress for caregivers:

  1. Stay organized:
  2. Start by listing your daily nursing tasks, and write the time and date of the doctors’ appointments and patient treatments in your diary. Prioritize them and start with the important ones. A well-planned schedule allows you to focus well and reduce stress. At the same time, try to arrange some exciting activities for the patient during the treatment breaks and when they are in a good state of mind, such as watching a movie or going outdoors to get some fresh air.

  3. Seek help and support:
  4. As a caregiver, caring for your patients and their recovery is not a short-term process, and should not be the sole responsibility of just one person. Seek help from your family, friends, or support organizations out there! You can find time to rest and destress while someone picks up medicines and essentials for you. You can also order your groceries and daily necessities online.

  5. Give yourself a break from time to time:
  6. Give yourself some me-time every day to do the things you like, such as watching a movie, dancing, sketching, pampering yourself at a bubble spa, or getting a good massage. Short breaks help alleviate stress, and restore your vitality and physical strength while maintaining your mental health.

  7. Popping bubble wrap:
  8. Some people find popping bubble wrap relaxing. Studies show that the human brain receives feel-good chemicals like dopamine while popping bubble wrap. A 2012 study by Kelton Research revealed that one minute of bubble wrap popping had the same stress-relieving effects as a 33-minute massage! Save the bubble wrap in your parcels or packages and start popping them now! Apart from bubble wrap, there are many toys such as pop-it balls and fidget toy packs that work similarly to bubble wraps.

Everything works differently for different people. However, you can start with methods you feel comfortable with. So, whether you are someone who is fighting cancer or you are a caregiver helping someone through this journey when you learn to handle stress, adjust your mindset, and reduce emotional instability, you can certainly go through it with optimism.

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