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Mental Health Activities for Cancer Patients

Everyone lives with dreams, plans, a desire to do something, achieve something. They have goals, short term and long term, and vision for their family and future. When all of a sudden they get to know that they have cancer, it can break them. Anyone living a healthy and happy life may face this unfortunate event. 

And after it, everything changes. Life may never become what it was before. It’s nothing but natural to get stressed, anxious and lose mental peace in this situation. You all know a healthy mind and a healthy body – both are needed to fight cancer. So, it becomes crucial to find ways to maintain mental health.

Here is a list of activities you can try to keep yourself mentally fit and ready to face the ongoing/upcoming challenges:

Walk and Exercise:

Going for a walk is supposed to be a physical exercise, but it helps you keep mentally healthy as well. Walking outside the house gives you fresh air, you get to see people, and gives you a small change to your daily routine or work. In short, it can give you a quick relaxation and a break from your chain of thoughts you were having otherwise sitting at home.

When you find time to walk daily, once or twice a day, you actually improve your physical and mental health significantly. Many cancer patients have reported that their daily walking routine has helped them during cancer treatment in more than one way.

How much to walk? 

Well, you can decide on that as per your strength. You can walk a few kilometres if your doctor permits. Or, just a slow walk in the neighbourhood can be helpful too. If you have time and strength, please create a routine for exercise as well. Physical activity keeps you mentally fit as well.

Yoga: a tool for coping

Yoga can help people with cancer both mentally and physically, research shows. While it can’t fight cancer itself, yoga may ease some side effects of the disease and its treatments. Some studies have found that yoga might:

  • Ease cancer-related fatigue
  • Improve sleep
  • Help with recovery from cancer surgery
  • Reduce depression, anxiety, and distress

Yoga is a mind-body practice long thought to help reduce stress and boost flexibility. It has three main elements:

  • Physical poses, called asanas
  • Breathing techniques
  • Meditation, or mindfulness exercises

Look for classes that include each of these. There’s no one type of yoga or yoga pose that’s best for people with cancer. But research suggests that less strenuous types can help with some side effects of treatment. These include gentle hatha yoga and restorative yoga.


Try this relaxation technique to let go of any stress you may have:

• Sit comfortably, somewhere quiet and close your eyes and decide to “let go of any thoughts” • Breathe deeply and slowly 

• Mentally go through each part of your body, and release all muscle tension. Start with your head and work all the way down to your toes 

• When all of the tension is gone, continue to breathe slowly with your eyes closed. Once you get used to this, you will be able to relax more easily and quickly.

Mindfulness and Meditation:

While anxiety, depression, loneliness, and many more emotions can take away your peace and make you restless day and night, practising meditation can make your life normal again. Meditation helps you detach from your worries and unnecessary thoughts and emotions; it helps you focus on needful things rather than worrying about facts which cannot be changed.

There are several techniques available online. You can try one and see if it’s working for you. Alternatively you can contact your care provider to see if they have some options especially for cancer patients. These techniques don’t require much time and effort and there are many institutes who conduct free sessions, which makes the practices worth trying.

Get engaged in your hobbies

Do you remember the last time you picked up a book but couldn’t finish? Take that book out and start reading again. Drawing, colouring, music, talking to a friend – all of these can take your attention away from the worries and help you feel better. 

Get good sleep

Nobody can deny the benefits of good sleep. Making a daily routine will help you stay organised and sleep better at night. 

Ways to breathe easier 

Feeling breathless is common for people with lung cancer. It can make you panic – and that just makes your breathing worse. If you have breathing problems, tell your doctor or nurse. Oxygen or medicines may help you. Ask to see an occupational therapist, who can suggest small changes in your everyday life so your lungs won’t have to work so hard. 

18 Useful tips: 

• Sitting up helps you breathe more easily, and try sleeping in a reclining position rather than lying flat 

• Use a fan – this helps to keep the air moving through the room and if you have oxygen, make sure that you have it close to hand • Anxiety can make breathing worse – try using relaxation exercises. You can also ask your doctor about medications that relieve anxiety 

• If dry mouth makes you feel worse, try sucking on a sweet to encourage saliva 

• Speaking takes more breath – try speaking more slowly and pause often. All of these things will help you to feel more in control of breathlessness if it occurs. This reduces the chance that you will feel anxious. Breathing exercises A physiotherapist can teach you helpful breathing exercises. 

You could try the following exercise to start with: 

• Fast, shallow breaths will make you tired. Aim for gentle breaths, at a normal rate, from your lower chest 

• Pursing your lips when you breathe (as if you’re about to kiss someone) often helps. Sit comfortably, put your hands on your thighs, and breathe out to relax your shoulders 

• Put your hand on your belly and cough. You will feel your diaphragm (main breathing muscle) 

• Keep your hand there so you can feel if you are breathing correctly and deeply 

• Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Make your outward breath twice as long as your inward breath 

• Practice by doing five to 10 breaths, several times a day.


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