Cancer patients who stay positive throughout their treatment journey may have higher chances of survival, research suggests. When patients leverage the “power of positive thinking,” they may be less anxious and depressed – feelings and emotions stemming from stress.
According to an article published on the National Cancer Institute’s website, stress hormones may change the behavior of certain white blood cells called neutrophils, potentially causing dormant cancer cells to awaken among people in remission. Some studies have also linked stress to cancer progression. Moreover, a group of researchers shared that mindfulness-based interventions may minimize inflammation and stress in the body, slowing tumor growth in breast cancer patients. This revelation illustrates how someone’s mindset could have a positive or negative impact on cancer cells.
If these conclusions are correct, then cancer patients struggling to stay positive during treatment or recovery may further compromise their immune systems.
How Positive Thinking Can Help Beat Cancer
From a conspicuous point of view, a patient who believes in winning their battle with cancer may be more motivated to follow and maintain strict treatment guidelines. Compared to others who may have difficulty coping with their diagnosis, an optimistic cancer patient may be more eager to fight, keeping a close eye on their health and wellness. As a result, this positivity and determination may lead to better treatment outcomes.
In addition, clinical researchers suggest that signals from the immune system can activate the communication pathways connecting the brain to the immune system, which, in turn, may help regulate immune responses. Some studies have also linked optimism to stronger immune systems.
Based on these findings, adopting a positive outlook may help cancer patients strengthen their immune systems, boost their treatment effectiveness, and increase the likelihood of making a full recovery.
How to Be Positive During Cancer Treatment
Sourced from leading health organizations and clinical studies, below are ways to stay positive during cancer treatment and recovery.
1. Seek Emotional Support
Having a “rock” and seeking emotional support from those you love (people and pets included) can help you cope with cancer’s physical and emotional demands. Here, we list the many ways to seek emotional support while receiving cancer treatments:
- Talk to family and friends. Erase thoughts like “I’m being a nuisance” from your mind. Reaching out to your loved ones and expressing your feelings is better than keeping it all to yourself. In fact, suppressing your emotions can heighten stress levels and cause your brain to enter a fight-or-flight state.
- Meet with a counselor or therapist. A mental health professional can help you process your feelings and develop coping strategies to make navigating the emotional challenges of cancer treatment more manageable.
- Join a support group. A cancer support group offers a safe space to share your innermost fears. It also allows you to connect with patients or survivors who understand what you are going through. Learn How to Find the Right Cancer Support Group for You.
- Get an emotional support animal. If you love animals, having a therapy pet (dogs are the most popular) may help improve your mood, lower your blood pressure, and reduce stress levels. Read this post about Pets, Support, and Service Animals for People with Cancer for more information.
A quick reminder: seeking emotional support is never a sign of weakness. It is a healthy way to cope with the emotional struggles of cancer treatment and maintain your well-being.
2. Participate in Enjoyable Activities
Having fun or engaging in relaxing activities is a crucial aspect of maintaining a positive mindset during cancer treatment. Doing so can boost your mood by providing a sense of control, serving as a distraction, and improving your overall well-being.
Some examples of hobbies you can safely participate in include:
- Listening to audiobooks
- Watching new or your favorite movies and TV shows
- Taking a warm bubble bath
- Listening to music
- Spending time in nature, such as going for a quick walk
- Playing board games or video games
- Crafting, including knitting or painting
Allowing yourself to smile and have fun during this difficult time will help you maintain a positive outlook. Do not hesitate to try new things and explore what works best for you.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is an invaluable tool for coping with the emotional hurdles of cancer treatment. This mental state of being present and engaged in the moment, without any judgment or distraction, can help you remain positive through the following:
- Reduces stress and anxiety. Mindfulness lowers stress and anxiety levels by helping you focus on what’s in front of you rather than what’s miles ahead, allowing you to let go of all intrusive thoughts and worries.
- Improves sleep quality. Sleep deprivation can release more of the stress hormone cortisol. Practicing mindfulness can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Some ways to practice mindfulness include:
- Meditation. Choose a quiet and comfortable space to sit, close your eyes, let everything fade into the background, and focus on your breathing. As you embrace the silence and inhale, exhale and let go of any worries or distractions that arise.
- Yoga. Yoga may help alleviate certain cancer-related symptoms and improve overall mood.
- Mindful walking. Take a walk outside and focus on the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, the breeze on your face, and the calming sounds of nature.
Mindfulness is a practice requiring time and patience to develop. Begin with short and simple techniques and gradually build up your skills over time. Find out how to get started with mindfulness here.
A Positive Mindset Can Help Cancer Patients, But It’s Not a Cure
While the theory concerning “positivity and cancer survival” has grown popular in recent years, it is necessary to understand that alongside optimism must come effective medical intervention. Together, your mindset and treatment choice may pave the way for triumphant battles against cancer.
Through decades of providing alternative cancer therapies, the medical team here at New Hope Unlimited knows firsthand how emotionally and mentally distressing it is to live your days battling cancer. However, we do believe that cultivating a positive mindset plays a role in improving cancer patients’ outcomes, and we are here to provide the hope and guidance every patient needs. Contact us today for cancer treatment options that focus on mind and body healing.