Learn about managing anxiety for people with cancer in this guide from The ONE Group (Oncology – Nutrition – Exercise) at Penn State College of Medicine.
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What you should know
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is having feelings of fear, sadness and uneasiness that can happen because of stress. A person with anxiety may sweat, have a hard time relaxing and have a fast heartbeat.
Patients may have anxiety when:
- Being tested for cancer
- Waiting for test results
- Hearing a cancer diagnosis
- Being treated for cancer
- Worrying that the cancer will come back
Signs and symptoms of anxiety
- Looking and feeling worried
- Trouble solving problems and focusing
- Tension or tightness in muscles
- Dry mouth
- Panic attacks
What you can do: Strategies for managing anxiety
Ways to manage anxiety
- Meditation, yoga or prayer
- Group therapy
- Having support from family members
- Sharing your feelings
- Remembering that it is OK to feel sad and frustrated
Tips for exercising
- Ask your doctor which exercises are safe for you.
- Take it slow. Increase the amount of exercise you do little by little.
- Do exercises that you enjoy.
- Exercising with others can make it more fun.
- Some exercise is better than none.
Possible exercises you can try
- Any aerobic exercise
Note: Aerobic exercise for 30 minutes, three times weekly, has been specifically documented to improve anxiety among people living with and beyond cancer .
Where can I find more information about aerobic and strength-training exercises?
If you are interested in starting aerobic and/or strength-training exercises, The ONE Group (Oncology – Nutrition – Exercise) provides videos demonstrating proper form for more than 50 exercises.
Contact your physician if:
- You have thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself.
- You have thoughts of wanting to hurt others.
- You experience loss of control.
- American Cancer Society
- American College of Sports Medicine Moving Through Cancer initiative
- American Psychological Association
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America
- Harvard Health
- National Cancer Institute