Health and Wellness
Mindfulness practices have shown promising results in providing oncology patients relief in pain, anxiety, insomnia, and fatigue (ref. 1). Mindfulness is the practice of bringing one’s attention to the present moment and focusing on what one is sensing and feeling; and allowing any judgements or negative thoughts to pass (ref. 2). This can be achieved through relaxing meditations that include breathing techniques, guided imagery, sitting quietly, or a moving meditation like walking, yoga, or slow movements. An additional benefit of mindfulness training is that any of these techniques may be used in combination or may be tailored to the person’s needs and what they find most beneficial. Mindfulness can be done anywhere, at any time and there is no set time limit on how long someone practices these techniques. The goal is to allow the body and mind to relax by cultivating awareness, kindness, and self-care; resulting in the relief of physical symptoms and mental stress. Research has shown that complementary mindfulness-based interventions have supported breast cancer patients through treatment by effectively reducing anxiety and depression symptoms (ref. 3).
The Pink Journey Foundation encourages participants to cultivate a regular mindfulness routine to ease the overwhelming sensations and feelings that accompany a cancer diagnosis and the effects of treatment. There are several apps that patients and families can download onto their smart phones that have many mindfulness options. Some of our favorite ones are:
- Simply Being – Meditation for Relaxation & Presence: This is a great free option for beginners with free audio instructions.
- Meditation Rx: Designed for healthcare and patients and families needing additional support through illnesses.
- Headspace: A guide to practicing mindfulness in your everyday life.
The Pink Journey Foundation suggested easy breathing technique
- A simple method can be achieved by comfortably sitting or lying in a quiet environment.
- Begin by closing your eyes and allowing all the muscles of your body to begin to relax.
- Bring awareness to your breath, and notice, are you shallow breathing? Creating a pause with each inhale or exhale? Are you holding your breath?
- Begin to connect awareness to your breath, and slowly begin to draw slow, long, comfortable inhales in through the nose and controlled, slow exhales through the mouth.
- The goal is to witness how the cool air feels as it passes through the nostrils into the nose, down the throat and begins to fill up the chest. Maybe even the abdomen (belly) begins to rise with each inhale.
- As you exhale, notice how the abdomen (belly) releases, the chest falls and the warm air flows out of your mouth.
- Try to keep your focus on the sensations and movement of breath within your body. If your breathing awareness is interrupted by intrusive, anxious thoughts, try to bring your focus back to the sensations of your breath.
As you practice this technique, it will be easier to calm and quiet the busy mind. The goal is to be present in the moment and only breathe. Many individuals report feeling “refreshed”, calm, and relaxed after only taking a few minutes to complete this breathing technique.
- Effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on symptom variables and health-related quality of life in breast cancer patients-a systematic review and meta-analysis. Zhang Q, Zhao H, Zheng Y.
- Mindfulness exercises.
- Effectiveness of Mindfulness-based Therapy for Reducing Anxiety and Depression in Patients With Cancer: A Meta-analysis. Zhang MF, Wen YS, Liu WY, Peng LF, Wu XD, Liu QW.
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