Ryan Hamner is a four-time survivor of Hodgkin lymphoma, a musician, and an award-winning author. In 2011, he wrote and recorded, "Where Hope Lives" for the American Cancer Society and the song for survivors, "Survivors Survive" used in 2015 for #WorldCancerDay. Recently, he published his book, This is Remission: A Four-Time Cancer Survivor's Memories of Treatment, Struggle, and Life, available on Amazon. His website is www.ryanhamner.com
5 things you can do right now to help you reduce anxiety from cancer.
With cancer comes some major life changes and side effects (I don’t need to tell you this). One of those side effects can be anxiety. Anxiety about your prognosis, your job, medical bills and a deluge of other things.
Below are five things that may help cancer patients reduce anxiety from cancer.
Exercise, of course
Exercise, if you don’t know it’s good for you by now, you are living under a rock, in a cave at the bottom of the sea, on Mars (not sure there is a sea there). Not only can exercise help you build muscle, lose weight, increase bone density and be great for your heart, but it can help combat anxiety.
“Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects,” says the Anxiety and Depression Association of America on its website.
Wait, what? Five minutes of aerobic exercise can help decrease anxiety? This is great news for anyone on chemotherapy or who is experiencing issues with energy levels and fatigue due to cancer treatment. If you can just get in even five minutes of aerobic exercise, you may be able to reduce your anxiety.
Get some sun
Too much sun can be bad for you of course, but so can too much of almost anything. According to the MedLine website however, exposure to sunlight causes the brain to release the hormone serotonin. This hormone helps take you from moody and anxious to calm and focused. And get this, a study from Environmental Health Perspectives even showed evidence that exposure to sunlight can help reduce the risk of certain types of cancers such as colon cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer. Remember to always check with your doctor on this one though because of your health condition and/or medications you are taking.
Just reading about this one made me anxious. Apparently, caffeine can get you jacked up, make you feel good, make you alert annnddd… make you anxious. So, I guess I’m going to have to stop drinking coffee — wait, that’s just ridiculous. I’ll never stop drinking coffee, but you may want to consider it.
The smell of lavender
Although chemotherapy can make you sensitive to certain smells, I’ve always heard that the scent of lavender could be calming. So, I tried it and actually thought it worked, but I needed professionals to tell me it worked. Who better than the University of Maryland Medical Center?
“Research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled,” the university says on its website.
A study at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center found that people with generalized anxiety disorder who consistently took chamomile for eight weeks greatly reduced their anxiety. So how about this, for those of you that are actually going to reduce or stop drinking coffee, simply replace it with chamomile tea. Let me know how it goes, because I refuse to quit drinking my coffee.
As you can see, there are some easy and natural things that might help you with your anxiety issues. Things that are free (or low-cost), enjoyable and will keep you out of that place you already spend too much time at — the doctor's office.