Everyone knows about the negative impacts stress can have on the mind and body. However, few people know that an increase in stress can lead to certain cancers, such as breast cancer.
It’s incredibly important to learn some proactive, healthy ways to cope with stress (and therefore fight off disease).
Here’s a list of four ways you can healthily cope with stress, and help your body to heal itself during difficult times. Studies have shown these “relaxation responses” really work!
Telomeres are very small regions of DNA, existing at the end of a cell’s chromosome. Their role is to help protect genetic information. Whenever a cell divides, these telomeres become smaller in the original cell.
Interestingly enough, studies have shown telomeres are longer in breast cancer survivors – particularly those who meditate and/or take part in consistent mindfulness practices.
Long telomeres are an indication of health, and can point to a lower risk of developing breast cancer.
Just 15 minutes of meditation and deep breathing can help your body reap the benefits of this practice. Remember – consistency is key.
Movement gives your body a method of coping with stress in a healthy, productive way. In fact, walking four hours per week can greatly reduce the risk of obtaining invasive breast cancer.
HIIT workouts, swimming, dancing, jogging, and speed walking are all great ways to blow off steam and help your body deal with stress. The goal is to get your heart rate up.
If you aren’t physically able to do these activities, consistent stretching and yoga can also have benefits on the endocrine and nervous systems.
Set a timer for 20 minutes, and journal about anything you like, making sure to write the entire time. You can choose to write about whatever pops in your head, or about something specific. The goal is for your pen to not leave the paper.
One of the most beneficial exercises is to write about the plans you have, the goals you want to achieve, and the things you’re grateful for. You can also draw out your feelings.
Writing down compliments about yourself is also beneficial in reducing stress, and can help reset your perspective.
A report in the Journal of Clinical Oncology shows that women experiencing breast cancer felt fewer symptoms when participating in this exercise.
Tapping (aka the Emotional Freedom Technique) allows for a quick and easy way to calm stress and increase focus.
By simply tapping on key points on the face and chest, and saying affirmations out loud while doing it, the body can reduce its stress levels and significantly lower cortisol levels.
This may seem awkward to do at first, but studies show that 90% of patients of military veterans with PTSD had a significant reduction of symptoms in just six weeks of consistent EFT practice.
It may be difficult to remember to implement these stress-reducing strategies. However, by simply participating in each of these for 15 minutes a day, you can see significant results when it comes to stress reduction.