Cancer & Emotions Part V: A Guide for Patients and Family – Coping with Cancer

Cancer & Emotions: A Guide for Patients and Family Part V: Coping with Cancer

If you need help coping with your cancer diagnosis and treatment, but all you can find online are sources implying that you are (or should be) depressed, then this article is for you. Yes, it’s a normal part of coping with cancer to experience anxiety and depression. But some folks have a very active and strong support system within their family and friends, a great spiritual or faith tradition at their center and a fabulous doctor. So, maybe you are one of these lucky ones. If so, perhaps you’re not depressed, but just need some encouragement, good advice, or just a virtual high-five for hanging in there through your treatment? Here are a few suggestions, tips, and recommendations that can hopefully put a smile on your face and help you push through.

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Get Informed

You might be way past this tip, but just in case, I thought I should include it. Gather as much information as you can about your type of cancer, different treatment options, tests and procedures that you need, and possible side effects. Write things down and get a family member or friend to help you, if needed. Keep in mind that you want to be informed and prepared, but you don’t want to obsess over this information. Find a balance between becoming a responsible expert on your condition versus going overboard. Even more important than gathering information is how you will use the information, which brings me to my next point.

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Create A Plan of Action

Make a to-do list of questions to ask, doctors to contact, reading/researching that you want to do, how to prepare for tests and procedures, etc. Think about want you want to do with the information you receive during appointments, from other patients, or anything you learn along the way. There are apps that you can download on your smart phone that can help you stay informed and organized.

Physical and Emotional Well Being

After running around to appointments, tests, procedures, friends/family homes, and support groups, you might begin to feel like you’ve taken on a part-time job. Take time for yourself to do an activity that you enjoy. If you find that you’re spending a lot of time around other people, make sure to spend some relaxing time alone every day. It’s okay to let others take care of you, but make sure you spend time taking care of yourself too. Try to keep routines similar to the ones you had before you were diagnosed. You’re schedule will need readjusting
in order to keep up with the demands of your treatment, but you want to maintain some sameness and normalcy.

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Talk, Vent, Express Yourself

Having a healthy outlet to release your feelings is so important, now more than ever. Everyone has different preferred ways of expressing their feelings. While some are talkers, others do better writing a story, blogging, or journaling. Don’t let emotions and thoughts about your diagnosis and treatment build up. Feelings are not meant to be kept inside you. If you want to talk, family and friends are usually our first choice, but sometimes it’s hard to handle the (inevitable) emotions and worries from loved ones (i.e., you don’t want to end up
being the designated therapist for others when you really need to talk yourself). In this case, you can talk to a mentor, mental health professional, or support group. You can join or start your own online blog (we did). Whatever the means, express your feelings about adjusting to this new journey in your life.

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Cancer & Emotions Part IV: A Guide for Patients and Family – Cancer Self Care

Cancer & Emotions Part IV: A Guide for Patients and Family
Cancer and Self Care

Now it’s time to take care of you. Not the physical you, but the personal you. Cancer self care is as important as almost any part of your treatment plan. Take it seriously and commit to it. This article will highlight a few common sense, but not often enough applied, self-care and emotional-care tips, strategies, and techniques to help you through the depression and anxiety that are a normal part of the journey.

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Social Support

Getting “support” from others has many meanings and can be achieved through so many different avenues. You just have to choose the method that works for you. Let me explain. Keeping in touch with a social support network (e.g., friends, other people going through cancer) prevents you from isolating yourself. Less isolation equals less depression and anxiety. The reason I say that the type of
social support you get has to work for you is because if you agree to, let’s say, join a cancer support group, but you don’t love talking in front of lot of people or aren’t ready to listen to other people’s struggles, then odds are, you won’t frequent the group. Maybe you prefer smaller groups or one-on-one contact with a mentor. Ask your doctor or go online and search for resources for cancer patients in your community.

If you don’t want to go alone at first, ask a friend or family member to go with you. Find a method or meeting format that you’re comfortable with and get out there. I often tell my clients, “it’s got to have the 3 P’s”; purpose specific to your needs (ie a cancer support group, etc), presence (you gotta show up regularly) and participation (if you aren’t active and engaged then you are missing the most important part),

Activities

This might be the last thing you feel like doing if your treatment leaves you tired and/or you’re too stressed to think about (much less do) anything “fun.” This tip is not meant to be fun…at first. The point here is to pick an activity that you are able to do and that you somewhat enjoy or have a special interest in. This includes (but is not limited to) cooking, knitting, fishing, scrap booking, swimming, hiking, cycling, or drawing. You get the idea. You should pick an activity that is accessible to you (i.e., you don’t have to travel far to participate, it doesn’t cost too much money) and that you can do at least two to three times weekly.

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You might be wondering, “What does this have to do with depression and anxiety?” The idea is that when you engage in certain novel activities, different parts of your brain are activated and stimulated. This neurological activity is like rocket fuel for the parts of your brain that protect you from depression and anxiety. It’s like your brain juices start flowing (i.e., neurotransmitter release) and this makes you feel better.

A Note On Knowledge

This just means educating yourself about depression and anxiety. This tip is good in moderation because there is such a thing as overdoing it here. Inform yourself through reliable online material and books and get several opinions, but then stop. I say this because it’s important to not obsess over learning about depression and anxiety. You want to become an expert at applying what you have learned to your every day life. Knowledge is great, but what you do with that knowledge is more important.

Do I Really Need Counseling?

Seeing a licensed mental health professional can be helpful if you are dealing with depression and anxiety throughout your cancer treatment. Even if you are fortunate enough to have a great support group of family and friends, sometimes it’s still a good idea to seek the objective and neutral feedback and treatment from a therapist. Talking to your support network is important, but serves a different purpose. Sometimes you can’t (or don’t want to) vent or discuss sensitive topics with family or friends because they will have their own feelings and emotional reactions to anything you tell them. In other words, if you’re sad or worried, your family/friends might respond to you with equal (or greater) sadness and worry.

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Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

There are many different therapy models and treatments for depression and anxiety, but a common (and effective) one is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) (and even Mindfulness Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or M-CBT). CBT is a short-term therapy approach that looks helps you look into how your thinking and behavior influences the way you feel. It might sound simple, but studies on the effectiveness of CBT for people dealing with depression and anxiety have been pretty impressive. An experienced counselor who specializes in working with cancer patients and their families will include M-CBT or CBT as well as other approaches, tailored to your individual and personal situation.

One Last Thought

Remember to talk to your doctor about your depression and anxiety. Avoid doing what (unfortunately) many people dealing with depression and anxiety do: They keep it to themselves as if they were the first and last person in the world dealing with it. And yes, a lot of times it may feel exactly like that. This tendency to keep depression and anxiety hush-hush is probably related to the stigma surrounding mental health (but this is a topic for another article). Talk to someone if you are feeling depressed or anxious during your cancer treatment. There are so many options and solutions out there for you. Stop, Take A Moment, Breathe, You Can Do This !

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Cancer & Emotions Part III: A Guide for Patients and Family – Depression and Anxiety During Cancer Treatment

Cancer & Emotions Part III: A Guide for Patients and Family – depression and anxiety during cancer treatment 

You’ve been diagnosed, you’re going through treatment, seeing (too many) doctors, going back and forth, appointments, prescriptions, health insurance phone calls. All of a sudden, the enormity and terror of it all hits you like a ton of bricks. Your life has changed so drastically that you don’t even recognize it. Depression and anxiety during cancer treatment hits everyone, often in unexpected ways.

As if all of these this weren’t enough, you’re lying in bed at night (or first thing when you wake up in the morning) after an overwhelmingly “busy” and appointment-filled day and that feeling hits you. That empty, helpless, scared feeling; deep down in your gut. That worried “What am I going to do?” feeling.

Normal Reaction to Abnormal Situation

This (what I have described) is so common. It is actually the most common occurrence that people diagnosed with cancer describe. That’s if and when they get around to describing it because there is an unsolved mystery surrounding mental health: In general, people just don’t want to talk about it. The brave ones who do, tell strikingly similar stories, which means that depression and anxiety during cancer treatment is often part of the typical “package” of dealing with cancer. You are not alone.

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Not Your Fault, Is Your Challenge

Things can get a little confusing too because sometimes it’s hard to tease out where the depression and anxiety are coming from. What is causing the symptoms is important because that will lead to a clearer understanding of how to treat the emotions and feelings. The majority of people think, “It’s me, there’s something wrong with me,” when in reality depression and anxiety during cancer treatment can occur due to a variety of reasons.

One reason is that some medications and specific treatments have depression and/or anxiety as part of their side-effect profile! If this reason is ruled-out, then maybe it is “you.” But I have news for you: if the depression and/or anxiety is coming from within you, then congratulations you are a normal human being. Experiencing depression and anxiety is a normal part of the diagnosis and treatment process.

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It might be easier for you to understand this concept if you think of the opposite scenario: Imagine someone undergoing cancer treatment and not feeling depressed or anxious. Aside from this being very weird, it’s also not normal. You would think that this person is either in complete denial or that something else is seriously wrong. I know that we are all different and everyone reacts differently to change and stress, but the take home message here is that becoming depressed and anxious during cancer treatment is your body’s way of processing everything that’s going on. It’s a normal response to an abnormal situation.

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What You Can Do Now

Keep in mind that although it’s normal and part of the “process,” depression and anxiety during cancer treatment can be addressed and alleviated. Your physical health is not the only thing that cancer has touched. Your mind and in fact the very heart and soul of you at your core need healing, too. You can use this depression and anxiety to aid your entire healing process, to help you grow stronger, and to help you learn the skills you need to face not only this illness, but also life and all the ups, downs, surprises, changes, and challenges that life has in store. This is a special strength that not everyone has the opportunity to build on because not everyone has been given this challenge that you are faced with.

I work with cancer patients and their loved one. It’s a passion and a path. If you or someone you know’s life has been touched by cancer, please consider sharing my information with them.

“Release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away your concerns, and relax into the world. No need to resist life; just do your best. Open your eyes and see that you are far more than you imagine.”
Dan Millman, Author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior

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Cancer & Emotions: A Guide for Patients and Family Part II: Coping with Grief & “Why Me?”

Cancer & Emotions: A Guide for Patients and Family
Part II: Coping with Grief & “Why Me?”

Any article on grief when you’re coping with a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment would not be complete without the often-cited “Five Stages of Grief” by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Often cited is actually an understatement. The “Five Stages of Grief” model is discussed or mentioned in almost every article, blog post, book, or magazine publication on illness, death, loss, or any moment in life when things don’t go as we plan (i.e., the rug is pulled from under our feet or we fall smack down on our faces and don’t know what to do). It’s understandable, though, because Dr. Kubler-Ross definitely knew what she was talking about. Although the model was initially created to help people prior to death, it is now used to help people going through all sorts of issues, whether you’re dealing with an illness yourself or you’re supporting someone who is going through difficult times. Here I offer my spin on the “Five Stages of Grief”.

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Stage One: Denial (“Who? Me?”)

When initially diagnosed with cancer, some people believe that it’s a mistake or that it can’t be happening to them. They might even put off beginning their treatment because of disbelief, but at a deeper level, they are really just overwhelmed with emotions, questions, concerns, and fear. When we’re stressed or scared, denial is our friend because denial is a survival instinct: It protects us from the potentially dangerous and damaging effects of stress. If you don’t believe that something is happening, then as far as your mind is concerned, it’s not happening. Denial kicks in when we need to process something new, unknown, and/or scary, but we need to process it slowly, at our own pace, so that it’s not so overwhelming.

Stage Two: Anger (“Why me?!”)

This stage is characterized by feelings of frustration, especially towards those closest to the grieving individual. Some people will enter the Anger stage immediately after diagnosis, while others will experience Anger after Denial. Feelings of Anger sometimes occur when the grieving person can no longer stay in the Denial stage (i.e., the diagnosis becomes too real). In this stage, a lot of blaming can occur. The grieving person wants to blame someone, anyone, for the illness. Some individuals feel they are being punished for some reason and will blame themselves.

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Stage Three: Bargaining (“I’ll trade you.”)

Sometimes, people wish to try to avoid their illness and feel like they can still go back to the way things were before diagnosis. Individuals will promise themselves or others (or a sky-borne deity) that they will change their ways or sacrifice something in exchange for health. Bargaining involves a misplaced sense of responsibility or blame that the grieving person puts on themselves for the cause of their illness. They feel that if they become “a better person” then a miracle will occur or they will be given a second chance and they can be well again. This implies that the person feels as if they were “bad” before and the illness is their “punishment.”

Stage Four: Depression (“What’s the point…”)

Some individuals will enter a depression stage after they recognize that they can’t avoid their illness and that the illness is real. Just like in the Denial stage, they are overwhelmed with their circumstances, but unlike the Denial stage, they accept their illness (and feel like giving up). The thought of fighting the illness feels bigger than what they believe they can handle. Many individuals will withdraw from family and friends and demonstrate an “I don’t care” or “Leave me alone” attitude.

Stage Five: Acceptance (“Everything might be alright.”)

Many individuals come to the point where they accept their illness and even embrace it. They figure that there’s nothing they can do about it, so they may as well accept it and stop stressing. This stage involves the person having a more calm view of the illness and more stable emotions about their circumstances.

Research hasn’t supported Kubler-Ross’ model, but regardless, people like it and people can relate to it and I guess that’s important too. These stages can occur in any order and some people might skip some stages, repeat two or three of the same stage, or remain in only one stage. Grieving is a process that is so unique to every individual, but understanding the process makes us feel a sense of relatedness. A sense that we are not on this journey alone and that when we read things like this article or the numerous other self-help texts and advice on how to cope, we know that these things exist because others have gone through and felt what we are feeling. This is proof that we are not alone in our struggles.

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Cancer & Emotions: A Guide for Patients and Family (Part I)

Cancer & Emotions: A Guide for Patients and Family (Part I)

If you or a loved one has received a cancer diagnosis and are undergoing treatment know that experiencing both physical and emotional effects throughout the process is an expected and very normal part of the journey. Emotional changes are a normal reaction to the many adjustments and changes that patients and families experience after a cancer diagnosis. There are emotional effects that some individuals experience upon receiving the diagnosis and some that arise when undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health conditions associated with the course of the illness, from diagnosis and treatment to remission. And while your oncologist will help you with your physical health during this time, a counselor who is seasoned and experienced in working with cancer patients will help you with your emotional health.

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Physical and Emotional

The physical side effects of chemotherapy medication (e.g., nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue) are often accompanied by emotional side effects (e.g., depression and anxiety). Depression and anxiety alone are common side effects of chemotherapy, but one or both can occur as a result of the bodily changes that individuals experience during chemotherapy treatment. The stress associated with receiving and coping with the diagnosis itself can also cause emotional difficulties. It can be difficult to distinguish between the cause of the emotional difficulties, which is why it is important to discuss any mental health symptoms with a physician in order to understand the symptoms, determine whether they are stemming from stress or from the chemotherapy medication and to get a referral for a cancer-specialist counselor.

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Chemo Brain

Many cancer patients refer to the term “chemo brain” to describe the difficulty they have concentrating and other cognitive side effects of chemotherapy (e.g., memory lapses, decreased attention). Chemo brain disappears shortly after treatment in some individuals while others experience the effects long after treatment ends. Radiation treatment can also cause chemo brain. Another common side effect of radiation therapy is fatigue or decreased energy. Low energy can sometimes be confused with or appear like the patient is depressed since individuals with radiation-related fatigue experience decreased motivation and interest in doing things they normally enjoy (a typical symptom of depression). Other side effects of radiation therapy (e.g., skin problems, hair loss, eating difficulties) can sometimes cause emotional distress, as coping with these symptoms can interfere with the individual’s daily activities and effect overall well-being.

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Over and Under Diagnosing

Over-diagnosing and under-diagnosing depression and anxiety is common among cancer patients due to the overlap of symptoms and side effects. It is important to normalize feelings and emotions and avoid labeling patients as “depressed” or “anxious” during the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery process. At the same time, these emotional difficulties should be appropriately addressed especially it they are excessive or distressing to the patient. Keep in mind that stress wears on the body and during cancer treatment, you want your body’s energy to be focused on fighting the cancer and regaining your health. Communication between the patient, caregivers, treatment team and the patient’s support system is key and will contribute greatly to an improved prognosis and a better quality of life for you and your loved ones.

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Thanks for visiting our blog. Stay in touch for the rest of the articles in the Cancer and Emotions series, or even take a look at some of the other great articles we’ve posted already. Journey Well!

 

Forgiveness; Is This The Real Deal?

Forgiveness; Is This The Real Deal? – Live Better Live Now. Your life will require you to forgive and to be forgiven by others many, many, many times. The sooner you can learn this and also teach it’s practice to those you love – the sooner you and they can embrace a more free and happy life.

Here’s the “skinny” on what is and is not, forgiveness:

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What Forgiveness Is NOT:

1. Condoning, dismissing or minimizing what has happened. Pretending it doesn’t matter only drives the negative inward, it doesn’t make it go away.

2. “Forgive and Forget”; this has got to be some of the worst of common wisdom out there. Forgetting is utter nonsense and foolishness. If you do not remember, you cannot learn and make better decisions ahead. Even the great religious texts do not ask us to forget. (ex. The bible specifies forgiveness, it doesn’t support forgetting…these two are very different.)

3. Reconciling. Keep in mind that forgiveness is a spiritual and internal act. It does not require the other person(s) involvement. Reconciliation is between the offending and the offended – this is a human exchange and unlike forgiveness, reconciling require reciprocity. Forgiveness is an action solely of itself. (forgiveness heals the self, reconciling heals the relationship – sometimes the relationship is not a safe or healthy one and it needs to dissolve).

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What Real Forgiveness IS:

1. It’s hard to truly believe in or be open to forgiveness for ourselves when we cannot practice it for others.

2. The conscious choice to not only not seek revenge, but to not harbor the desire for it within ourselves.

3. Allowing whatever injustice we feel to be righted by an appropriate higher system and/or our higher power.

4. Allowing ourselves to see humanity, however flawed, of all involved and not just from a perspective as the offended.

5. Relating the story of what happened with consideration for the above (4) and not an account of accusation that continues to spread injury.

6. Asking, praying, meditating or hoping for healing for the offender – to whatever extent you can. This frees you to move forward in life.

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(If you are having trouble wrestling with forgiveness, forgetting and reconciling in your own life, getting some professional guidance might be helpful).

6 Tips About Preventing Prostrate Cancer

6 Tips To Help Prevent Prostrate Cancer

Did you know, that in the United States alone, it is estimated that more than twenty eight thousand men die from prostrate cancer yearly? However, thanks to early detection, most men that are diagnosed with this type malignancy have a survival rate of almost ninety eight percent. The tips in this article may help increase the survival odds for you.

Although prostrate cancer can occur in men under the age of fifty it is extremely rare. When it does occur under age 50 some doctors feel it may be related to DNA genes from the family or an abnormal problem with the testosterone hormone. Just because it is a rare occurrence in men under 50, this doesn’t mean that you can’t start preparing yourself to fight off prostrate illness early in your life.

Important Prevention Steps

One of the most important steps you can take to help prevent cancer, prostrate or otherwise, is to do your best to have a healthy lifestyle. One of the major lifestyle changes you can do is to stop smoking, if you smoke. Recent studies have not found a direct link from smoking to prostrate cancer; but it is believed it can have adverse affect on the DNA of the malignant growth causing it to spread more rapidly through the prostrate and into other parts of the body. (Journal of Urology (Vol. 169: 512-516).

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Not only can smoking speed up the spread of cancer cells throughout your body it also causes major damage to your entire respiratory system. This can lead to problems with your immune system, which is a major contributor for preventing any disease, much less cancer.

Other studies have shown that a healthy diet can also decrease the odds of the early on set of cancer of the prostrate and its severity. Those diets, which are high in fiber and the natural vitamins required by your body, have been shown to be very helpful. Furthermore your natural defenses are increased with this type of diet.

When you are discussing dieting you are invariably led to the subject of exercise. Some of the other studies have shown that a sedate life style leads to a lowering of the body’s natural defense system. Exercise has been shown to help the immune system to work at top proficiency. So not only will you help your prostrate, but again lower the odds of contracting other life threatening diseases. This in turn brings us to one more tip that may be helpful for you.

Early Detection

Early detection is the absolute key to increasing the survival rate for cancer victims, prostrate or otherwise. One of the recommendations being touted is to have the first PSA sample taken around age 40. However, there is a good deal of controversy over this recommendation. Thos against it have stated that it will be too early to show any results. While those for it have said it will give a record for comparison as the person ages.

Now we need to give you another tip. No matter which camp your doctor is in it is important for you to discuss your concerns with your physician. The tips provided in this article on prostrate cancer are for information purposes only. They should not be taken as nor considered as medical advice.

Although prostrate cancer can be a life threatening disease, with the proper medical treatment and lifestyle changes, the chances of prostrate cancer being the actual cause of your death are small.

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7 Drug Free Treatments – Pain and Anxiety

There are a variety of drug free, holistic treatments for pain and anxiety today that can compliment medical or therapeutic practices and help reduce both physical pain and emotional distress. In this article, 7 Holistic Treatments – Pain and Anxiety, we will be taking a brief look at a few of these drug-free methods and the benefits each of them offers for managing pain and anxiety.

1. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice that has its roots in Eastern tradition. It is the practice of conscious awareness of the person’s inner states, feelings, behaviors, thoughts, and even external events. Mindfulness involves observing one’s experience without necessarily trying to change it or labeling it as good or bad. It can be applied in an effort to be more present and engaged with what’s going on around you or with what is happening within you. It means being present in the present. When practicing mindfulness, we pay attention to a single thing at a time and observe it with focused intention and without judgment.

When applying mindfulness for pain, we pay attention to that pain, which might seem paradoxical. However, when we pay attention to the pain, we reduce the stream of negative thoughts that can increase the experience of pain and e can reduce both the pain and the emotional effects it has. Mindfulness can reduce pain dramatically, with better effects the longer it is practiced. It can reduce the experience of pain too, helping us reduce the unpleasantness of it significantly.

Mindfulness can also help improve the quality of life for people who experience chronic pain and also boost mood which can also have a positive effect on pain levels. Remember the old saying “misery loves company”? – well, if your mood is negative, anxious or depressed that actually increases your sensitivity to things you find discomforting. Essentially, you are primed to find more discomfort.

As for anxiety, mindfulness also involves paying attention to the anxiety and observing it without judgment. You actually focus on the feelings and symptoms of anxiety rather than attempt to suppress them or change them. This allows you to calm down and become more aware that the anxiety is a response of their body. The practice of mindfulness can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and is useful for anxiety disorders also.

2. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a treatment with a long history, being practiced in China for many hundreds of years. It remains a somewhat controversial treatment today, but there has been growing scientific evidence in recent years to support its effectiveness for a variety of conditions. (*some insurance companies now cover accupuncture for cardiac patients) Acupuncture involves inserting tiny needles into specific points of a person’s body at varying depths. It has been suggested that acupuncture stimulates certain nerves in the body.

Acupuncture can be used to help with pain, especially for migraines and back pain. People with chronic pain can benefit significantly from it as a drug free option to increase quality of life. Reportedly, it can relieve pain significantly in about 50% of the cases. It’s worth mentioning that with a good acupuncturist the procedure is not painful and can be almost painless or fully painless, so there is no significant pain associated with the needles. The practice also has much fewer side effects than medication.

Acupuncture has also been found to be useful for anxiety. It can help reduce anxiety in general and also to improve symptoms of certain anxiety disorders. The results usually begin to appear after a single treatment and become more significant after continued sessions.

Acupuncture is a focused treatment, addressing a specific problem through the application of needles to certain points (also called meridians) on the body. Usually, the acupuncture is directed at resolving a specific issue. However, if acupuncture is effective for the individual’s pain or anxiety, it might be useful to return to it for other difficulties that can be appropriatly treated through acupuncture.

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3. Medical Hypnosis

Medical hypnosis is an advanced form of hypnotherapy used in medical settings to help people manage pain, anxiety, increase their ability to relax, or better approach their treatments. While hypnosis is a controversial treatment that often is incorrectly associated with performance or stage magic, the legitimate use of it by a clinician with advanced training can be highly effective. Hypnosis can help reduce pain or even nausea, being used, for example, with cancer patients who are struggling with some of the negative side effects of radiation and chemotherapy treatments

Hypnosis involves an altered state of consciousness, as happens with meditation, but the person who is being hypnotized does not lose awareness or memories. They can not be manipulated into doing something specific (nobody can make you cluck like a chicken), rather, they enter a state in which they are more relaxed and more open to positive suggestions. The person’s focus is directed at a single thing, so their distress becomes less and their pain and anxiety is reduced.

Hypnosis can have pain relieving effects, ranging from moderate to strong. Hypnosis can be useful for a multitude of conditions associated with pain. Some people might respond better to hypnosis than others, but approaching it with an open mind can help make it more effective from the start.

Anxiety also can improve through the use of hypnotherapy. It can be helpful, as it is easier for the person to be more open and relax physically in the moment. Some results of hypnotherapy for pain and anxiety might be seen after the first session, however, there is usually a treatment plan for several sessions that occur progressively further and further apart. It’s important to seek this type of service only from a licensed therapist with advanced training in medical hypnosis.

4. Medical Meditation

Medical Meditation is another practice that is quickly gaining recognition in the medical community. Medical Meditation has a wide array of benefits and few to none side effects. Medical Meditation involves the practice of focused attention (for example, attention focused on breathing, repeating a mantra, or on something else). Medical Meditation is a well-established practice that helps reduce pain, relax, improve one’s physical and mental health, and obtain a wide variety of benefits, such as a greater control over one’s thoughts and inner states, which is clearly very helpful for anxiety.

Medical Meditation can be used as a form of pain relief, but unless you have a great deal of previous training, you are likley going to need to begin with a professional. A clinical professional with advanced training in this area can help you gain more control over your reaction to experiences and increase your ability to self-drive relaxation; reducing stress and pain too.

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For anxiety, Medical Meditation can improve the control an individual has over their thoughts, helping cut negative ideas that might make the anxiety build up. The person also can learn to relax and breathe when they choose to, helping address the physical symptoms of anxiety as well. The practice of meditation, once learned, can be practiced without the need for any special location or materials. What is also significant is that it has a variety of health benefits which increase the more a person practices meditation.

5. EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR is a treatment approach that is primarily known and used for trauma. Like many holistic methods it is controversial, but is also simple and can be very effective. The basis of EMDR is that certain eye movements help the brain reprocess traumatic or difficult events. When used for traumatic events, the therapist may make specific motions with their fingers, asking the patient to follow them with their eyes while they talk about the traumatic event. Eye movements reduce the emotional charge of memories as they help the brain reprocess it.

However, EMDR is not just for trauma. It has been used effectively one of the more popular treatments for pain, too. For instance, people with chronic pain through the application of an EMDR protocol can also experience a significant reduction in the pain, better mood, and more control over their own pain levels.
EMDR can help with anxiety as well. It seems that it is best applied when it is used with traumatic anxiety, as the person might be asked to recall and talk about situations that have caused them anxiety in the past. There is less research on EMDR for other anxiety disorders, however, it does seem to be effective to address trauma and reduce anxiety. (EMDR is an approach that requires specialized training to be practiced, so it’s important to only seek treatment from trained, clinical professionals.)

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6. Yoga

Yoga refers to a variety of practices that also originate in Eastern spiritual tradition. There are many different variations of yoga that might have different purposes. Yoga involves a series of poses, breathwork and physical exercises that are meant to help a person relax, get more in touch with their body, and as a form of exercise.

There are different types of yoga. Some provide a more intense workout, while others focus on different goals. There are yoga poses and approaches that are directed at providing pain relief. Yoga is especially useful for some forms of back pain. However, it is important to be careful when doing yoga, as some poses might not be good for pain or might aggravate it due to the physical demands they might have. In general, yoga as a form of exercise might be less demanding, especially some forms of it, and provide the benefits of pain relief other forms of exercise have due to the biological effects of exercise. Exercise is a natural painkiller, so practicing yoga can help with pain relief.

Yoga can also help with anxiety. Firstly, yoga is a form of exercise, which means that it has the benefits exercise has in general, associated with pain and distress – like endorphin release. Yoga also promotes a more relaxing way of breathing – bringing your heart rate and breathing into a more relaxed pace. There are also specific poses that address anxiety and help relax. Yoga can help improve a person’s physical condition and help them become more physically active.

7. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

EFT is a relatively new holistic treatment that is gaining more popularity. Research is limited, but the field is relatively young and the public response has been positive. EFT is based on acupuncture, but rather than using needles, it uses pressure. EFT is a form of physiological acupressure that uses tapping instead of needles. The practitioner taps specific points on a person’s body while the person thinks about a specific problem and voices affirmations. EFT has been used by medical practitioners, although it is still not fully recognized.

EFT can be used for both anxiety and pain. EFT has also been used to teach patient’s with Parkinson’s to self-regulate their anxiety, which can have positive effects on their mobility. And more recently for equestrians with fears following an injury. with It can be adapted to these problems by tapping specific points on the body, voicing specific affirmations, and focusing the patient’s attention on the pain or anxiety. It can help relax and reduce stress, which benefits both pain and anxiety.

Conclusion

Overall, these holistic treatments for pain and anxiety offer similar benefits – they all offer drug free relief from pain and from anxiety although through different methods. Some of them, like mindfulness and meditation, offer a wide variety of benefits in addition to reducing pain or anxiety, while others focus more on the problem at hand. Different people might benefit more from one type of treatment rather than the other, so the choice of treatments for pain might depend a lot on individual differences. Some of these treatments are also more established, meaning that it might be easier to find a licensed practitioner or a course teaching how to practice something, like yoga or mindfulness, in one’s home. Holistic treatments also might not always work as the primary treatment. For instance, for chronic pain it would be important to establish the cause with a doctor before seeking a holistic way to relieve pain. However, these holistic treatments can be very effective when done in addition to primary treatment or on their own in some cases. It’s always wise to talk with your physician before adding a new modality to your treatment plan for pain.

Need help finding the right professional for you? Click here for a free guide.

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7 Holistic Treatments for Pain and Anxiety / Houston / Live Better Live Now

Ten Health Benefits of Meditation

Ten Health Benefits of Meditation

Lowers blood pressure and slows down the cardiovascular system.

Relaxes the nervous system.

Reduces the intensity of migraines/headaches.

Gives a break from the internal chattering an self-doubt in the mind.

Reduces anxiety and fear.

Restores functional balance to the digestive system (less stress, better functioning – better absorption of nutrients).

Relieves muscle tension.

Reduction/relief of insomnia – improved quality of sleep.

Improves mood and reduces depressed thinking.

Generates optimistic and positive thinking, increases self-esteem, motivation and confidence.

TIP – There are a lot of people out there presenting themselves as experienced instructors or self-proclaimed authorities on meditation. Take a little time to learn where their education comes from and what experience they have.

Health and Meditation

Learning meditation is not difficult or time consuming. Practicing meditation does not require expensive equipment or a membership and can be practiced by anyone regardless of age or physical mobility limitations. It is relatively easy to begin, but a little guidance to help you get started can be useful and for real health results you do need to commit it to regular practice – just as you do with mindfulness, yoga, tai chi and so on. Classes are relatively easy to find and there are some great resources online – even audio downloads and CDs to get you started or even “get your feet wet” with a little guided imagery.

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Medical Issues and Meditation

If you have a specific medical issue or side effect from medical treatment (ex: anxiety after heart surgery, sleep problems after kidney transplant or nausea from cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation) then you might want to look into working with a licensed clinical professional who has advanced training in medical hypnosis. This is specific to the area of health and medical.

Wellness and Preventative Healthcare

And think preventative care and personal wellness too. Learning to reduce stress and cortisol production is a great proactive health benefit for all of us – medical hypnosis can even help with mild to moderate morning sickness.

Neurology, Oncology, Psychiatry, Cardiology; the list goes on and on – these fields more and more are actively encouraging clients to work with a medical meditation professional as an ancillary and drug free addition to their client’s care. So, rather than wait until after there is a problem or letting a current one get worse – why not get in front of it now and take an active role in the health of your mind and body? (it will be good for your spirit too!)

Thank you for reading!

Peace, Health and Laughter –

Ben

(*Need Help Finding the Right Counselor for You ?  –  check out our recent article that guides you through the process of making an informed decision.)

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Ten Health Benefits of Meditation / Live Better Live Now / Houston

The Benefits of Yoga for Stress Management

The Benefits of Yoga for Stress Management

The raves about yoga are more than just a current trend or a flash-in-the-pan fad. The physical and psychological benefits of yoga for stress management have been taking America by storm.

The regular practice of yoga can help decrease stress and tension, increase strength, balance and flexibility, lower blood pressure and reduce cortisol levels in the brain – which in and of itself is a very positive step in preventative health care. It also yields strong emotional benefits due to the emphasis on breathing, grounded and focused release of negative thoughts and the interconnection of mind, body and spirit.

Frequent practice of yoga for stress management can result in better sleep, help you not to focus on things beyond your control and spend more energy learning how to be mindful and live in the present. While it won’t erase or remove stressors – it can, in effect, makes a stressful event a lot easier to handle, whether it’s family, work, health, relationships – or something else.

Whatever misconceptions you have about yoga and stress management, perhaps they should take a back seat. While most people have the notion that you have to be flexible in order to do yoga, the truth is, anyone will benefit from yoga regardless of age. In fact, many times people who aren’t very flexible at all will actually see results even faster. It’s perfectly suited to all levels because yoga is a practice geared to helping you become aware of your own highly individual mind/body connection.

There are many different styles of yoga to suit your preference. Hatha yoga is one of the most flowing and gentle options that is a good choice as starting point. Vinyasa is more athletic while Iyengar concentrates on proper alignment. However, Bikram or “hot” yoga, is not recommended for beginners. (In fact, no one, regardless of fitness level, should begin any “hot yoga” practice without speaking with their physician first.)

It doesn’t matter if you join late in a yoga class. It’s not about doing it better or worse than the others, it’s not even a competition with yourself – nor a competition at all. It’s about how you feel in the moment of each stretch in your body. What matters most is how present and relaxed you can allow yourself to become.

Yoga is considered as a deeply personal practice and no two people can or should hold a pose in exactly the same manner. A person has to work at his or her own level of flexibility, one that is challenging but not overwhelming. If you don’t feel good with what the instructor is telling you to do, don’t do it. Your body will warn you if you are about to get hurt. It is important that you listen to your body, push the limits gently, but don’t let yourself be overcome by ego. Allow your body to guide you and be your friend.

The goal of yoga is to synchronize the breath and movement. When you inhale and exhale as you work through poses is important. Breathing only through your nose keeps heat in the body and keeps the mind focused. Concentrating on your breath is the key to yoga for stress management, as it helps you let go of external thoughts and anxiety, requiring you to focus on your body in this moment. The easiest way to bring yourself into the present moment is to focus on your breath. Feel how it goes down your nose and into your body. It helps you let go of the worrying thoughts.

Bear in mind that yoga is a slow process. Forget about expectations. Let go of competition and judgment. As yoga brings you into the present moment, you will experience joy not only in the physical movement and mental benefits but in spending time in the now.