Skip to main content

Managing Stress

Having cancer usually adds a new level of stress. Learning new ways to cope with stress can help.
What is stress?
Anything that causes a change in your life causes stress. It doesn't matter if it is a "good" change, or a "bad" change. Even “imagined” change is stressful. For example, if you fear that your cancer will come back, that can create stress. Whenever you experience change, your body attempts to adjust or adapt. This takes energy. If the stress is severe, lasts for a long time or if there are many stressful things happening at once, your body starts to run out of energy and show signs of stress.

Stress can directly and indirectly contribute to general or specific problems with your body and your mind. It can have a major impact on the physical functioning of the human body. Stress can impact your heart rate, breathing and respiration, blood pressure and can create more physical stress symptoms. To learn more about symptoms, download the "Managing Stress" handout.

There are so many changes and challenges associated with cancer. The likelihood your stress will increase at various times throughout diagnosis and treatment is high. This increase could be connected to family adjustments, treatment symptoms or pushing yourself too hard if you are the caregiver.
Managing Stress Toolbox
How to use your tool box
  • Identify what things you already do to handle your stress. 
  • Learn and practice new ways to manage the stress. Use these methods more during treatment and times of high anxiety. If you practice often, then when stressful times increase, you can relax more easily and manage those times better.  
  • Check to see if they are working. Be aware of your stress and notice what is working and what isn’t.
  • Remember that you may need help from others to manage increasing stress. 
  • For more ideas go to our handout on managing stress

Tools

A variety of tools are available to assist with stress management, including the support groups, playlists and videos. Click the "+" sign(s) below for more information.

Engaging in creative activities such as writing, reading, playing a musical instrument or artwork may help reduce stress. Practice art forms that you find relaxing.

Coloring

Coloring books for adults have recently become popular because coloring can relieve stress.  It can also ease anxiety and provide a sense of calm, as it provides a positive distraction. Coloring is something that is very accessible: all you need are coloring materials (ideally pencil crayons, but anything will work). Try printing and coloring our "Hope" adult coloring sheet.

Mindfulness is about being more aware of what is happening in the present moment. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an 8 week program that was developed by Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre to support people with a wide variety of health and life challenges, including cancer. With sustained regular practice, mindfulness has been shown to reduce the effects of stress and anxiety, as well as significantly enhance the quality of our lives. You will find 2 versions of both the body scan and sitting meditations under our "Mindfulness & Meditation" audio streaming.


Please consult the Patient and Family Counselling department at your local cancer centre to talk to a counsellor and/or learn about Mindfulness programs.

‎Watch "Managing Stress While Living with Cancer", a video dedicated to cancer patients and their families who are learning to find their "breath" after a cancer diagnosis.

Download the Soundcloud App on you mobile device and search BC Cancer for tracks or go directly using the following links:



For more information on stress reduction exercises, see the handouts below: 


Support programs are offered at cancer centres, online and in the community.

 

Getting Support

Click

Click

Click

Click


Everyone experiences and handles stress differently. Here are three things you can do to manage your stress. 


1. Learn to read your stress signs

You can learn to read your body signs for early signs of increasing stress. Noticing the early signs of change means you can decide what you want to do about it before you start feeling burnt out or unable to cope. If you aren’t sure what the signs and symptom may be, we have developed a fact sheet called Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress


2. Exchange your stresses

Keep your stress level lower by "exchanging stresses". If a new stress comes into your life, then make room for it by eliminating or postponing another stress. This way, your total stress level remains low.  Our natural tendency is to let our stresses pile up rather than exchanging them.  So, if you are going to be driving in every day for radiation treatments, you may need to have somebody else in the family get the kids to school.


3. Use your tool box

  • Identify what things you already do to handle your stress. 

  • Learn and practice new ways to manage the stress. Use these methods more during treatment. If you practice often, then when stressful times increase, you can relax more easily and manage those times better.  

  • Check to see if they are working. Be aware of your stress and notice what is working and what isn’t.

  • Remember that you may need help from others to manage increasing stress.

Check out these Fact Sheets that can give you some tips and skills for dealing with stress



At my cancer centre:

In my community:

  • Local library will have some good resources about stress and ways to manage it. 
  • Community or recreation centre usually offers many workshops and courses that focus on relaxation and stress.  
  • Spritual places of worship 
Tab Heading

SOURCE: Managing Stress ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © BC Cancer. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2018 Provincial Health Services Authority