The importance of the role of the mind, beliefs, emotions, and behaviors in health and well-being is central to many traditional ancient health systems as well as recent scientific studies.
What we think, feel, and believe in can influence our health and healing and is well known among the general population. In recent years, there is an increased number of scientific research that supports this statement. This influence can be positive or negative.
Negative emotions such as anxiety and depression can cause additional suffering , weakened adherence to perscribed treatments as well as threaten a patient’s return to health. Extensive research has documented that mind body interventions can help address these problems.
Another issue that is commonly encountered by people touched by cancer and their families is high stress levels. In addition to the fact that stress is induced by the disease and its treatments, many cancer patients believe that stress plays a role in the cause and progression of their disease. Even though, this belief remains controversial, there is substantial evidence showing the negative health consequences of sustained stress on health and well-being. Chronic stress plays a role in disease progression and there are clues that it may contribute to overall mortality.
A review study published in the reputable Journal of Clinical Oncology reveals the strong link between stress and cancer progression. Whereas evidence for the role of psychosocial factors in cancer initiation has been equivocal, support continues to grow for links between psychological factors such as stress, depression, and social isolation and progression of cancer. In vitro, in vivo, and clinical studies show that stress related processes can impact pathways implicated in cancer progression, including immunoregulation, angiogenesis, and invasion. More in this link
Decreasing distress and maintaining the functional integrity of the immune system and other physiologic systems are therefore extremely important in helping patients adjust to cancer treatment, recovery, treatment complications, and possibly metastatic growth. Utilizing various stress reduction techniques that are individualized to each person can be an essential tool that patient can use to address this issue.
Psychologic Stress and Cancer- NCI FactSheet
How to make stress your friend
Important article on the value of mind body medicine in cancer care is included in the following link.
Some of the approaches that can address these issues include:
Soft Belly Meditation
(open the above link)
4-7-8 Breathing Exercise
The key to this exercise is to remember the numbers 4, 7 and 8. It’s not important to focus on how much time you spend in each phase of the breathing activity, but rather that you get the ratio correct.
Here’s how it’s done:
Sit up straight
Place the tip of your tongue up against the back of your front teeth. Keep it there through the entire breathing process
Breathe in silently through your nose to the count of four
Hold your breath to the count of seven
Exhale through your mouth to the count of eight, making an audible “woosh” sound
That completes one full breath. Repeat the cycle another three times, for a total of four breaths
You can do this exercise as frequently as you want throughout the day, but it’s recommended you don’t do more than four full breaths during the first month or so of practice. Later you may work your way up to eight full breath cycles at a time.
The benefits of this simple practice are enormous and work as a natural tranquilizer for your nervous system.
MIND BODY MEDICINE- The Samuelli Link