10 Tips for Managing Cancer-Related Stress and Anxiety

A cancer diagnosis can be a life-changing event, bringing with it a great deal of uncertainty. Cancer treatment can affect the physical body in the forms of weight loss, weakness, or hair loss, and can also affect mental health and wellbeing.

Many patients and caregivers deal with the mental and physical effects of stress and anxiety. Common feelings include worry, fear, hopelessness, or feeling overwhelmed or out of control. Physically, you may feel tense or short of breath, suffer from headaches or muscle aches, or experience changes in your sleep and eating habits.

You can learn strategies to manage these feelings, especially with the help of clinicians — including social workers, counselors, psychotherapists, and psychiatrists — who work to care for the whole patient during and after their treatment.

Below are 10 tips from Dana-Farber experts to help manage cancer-related stress and anxiety. These suggestions may not apply to everyone. If you have concerns about your mental health, please contact your healthcare provider.

1. Let yourself feel; 2. Talk about what's on your mind; 3. Bring up your concerns to your care team; 4. join a cancer-specific support group; 5. Monitor your thoughts; 6. Recognize fear triggers; 7. Accept and let go of what you can't control; 8. Breathe; 9. Exercise; 10. Write it down.