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Cancer and its treatment can be stressful for people with cancer and their caregivers.
Relaxation techniques and other mind/body practices can help calm your mind and sharpen your ability to focus. These techniques offer creative ways to reduce stress caused by cancer and to maintain inner peace.
For example, some people use these techniques to help them relax as they wait for treatments or test results.
Relaxation techniques are designed to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the involuntary part of the nervous system that serves to slow the heart rate, and increase digestive and glandular activity.
There are many physical and emotional benefits of relaxation:
• Decreased heart rate
• Decreased blood pressure
• Better sleep
• Improved concentration
• Lower stress
What are the types of relaxation techniques?
This technique uses both visual imagery and body awareness to move a person into a deep state of relaxation. You would imagine a peaceful place and then focus on different physical sensations, moving from the feet to the head. For example, you might focus on warmth and heaviness in the limbs, easy, natural breathing, or a calm heartbeat.
In deep breathing techniques, you expand your diaphragm, which is just under your lungs. As your lungs fill, you should feel your tummy push out, and not your chest.
To test this, place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
Take a slow, deep breath, sucking in as much air as you can. As you are doing this, your belly should push against your hand.
When you first practice this exercise, sit with your back straight; later, you can do this in any comfortable position.
These instructions are for one breath; repeat for a total of four breaths.
- Touch the tip of your tongue on the tissue just behind your upper front teeth, keeping it there through the whole exercise.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, as you make a soft “whoosh” sound.
- With your mouth closed, inhale through your nose as you mentally count to four seconds (at the rate of one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three-Mississippi, four-Mississippi).
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- “Whoosh” exhale completely through your mouth to a count of eight.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This technique involves slowly tensing and then releasing each muscle group individually, starting with the muscles in the toes and finishing with those in the head.
Similar to autogenic training, guided imagery involves listening to a trained therapist or a guided imagery CD to move into a state of deep relaxation. Once in a relaxed state, the images that come up in your mind can help you uncover important realizations about your emotional, spiritual, and physical health.
Sometimes just listening to ambient sounds is enough to relax your mind and briefly transport you emotionally to a place in which you feel safer and more secure.
IMPORTANT: Do not listen to these recordings while driving or operating equipment as they will make you sleepy.
Our gift to you!
Download a FREE Guided Imagery MP3 for Progressive Muscle Relaxation here:
To listen to the Guided Imagery recording, find a place where you can sit or lie down comfortably and undisturbed for about 20 minutes. Close your eyes, relax and enjoy! (Earbuds are a plus, but not required.)
Other mind/body practices are yoga, tai chi, and Qigong. The links below are products we have tested with excellent results!
QIGONG Seniors Am/pm Healing kit CHAIR YOGA TAI CHI