Individuals who are diagnosed with anal cancer often find themselves facing stress and worry. According to licensed clinical psychologist and geropsychology specialist Carol Spar, PsyD, “A stressful situation is one that is both unpleasant and, for the moment, inescapable.” They fear the end-of-life issues thrown directly at them because of the said diagnosis. Because of this, the struggle to keep their mind and emotions together often leads to anxiety and depression. According to Scott Bea, PsyD, “Anxiety is really a reaction in our body and brain that can be a feeling of worry, apprehension, sometimes excitement in anticipation of an event or in the face of uncertainties.”
What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is an effective and powerful tool to handle anxiety and stress in life. According to Nancy Frumer-Styron, PsyD, “Mindfulness meditation is a discipline of mind training.” The basics of this practice allow you to find the calming peace in your mind, away from your regular busy thoughts. This simple exercise also allows you to focus on the present happenings in your life instead of looking back at your past and worrying about your future.
How Does Mindfulness Meditation Work?
Mindfulness meditation helps you to bring your mind back to the present. Through this, it will help you cope better with your stressors. There are different types of mindfulness meditation. It includes the following:
- Body scanning
- Walking meditation
- Sitting meditation such as focused attention and breathing awareness
- Insight meditation
- Digging deep into thoughts and emotions
- Sensory meditation
The most common type of mindfulness meditation for cancer patients is the breathing exercise. This exercise approach helps cancer patients relax and keep a healthy mind. Breathing exercises are best done before going to sleep while in a dark room. Here is the step-by-step process for this strategy:
- Start by lying on your back. Breathe in for 4 seconds. Then, exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat this part eight times.
- Turn to the left side. Use the same breathing pattern (4 seconds of breathing in and 8 seconds of exhaling). Do this 16 times.
- Turn to the right side. Use the same breathing pattern. Repeat this for 32 times.
Focusing on the aspects of breathing is important. Once you have gotten the hang of this, try noticing all the sounds, sensations, and ideas surrounding you and savor every feeling. If your active mind starts to deviate from the concentration exercise, you need to return your focus to your breathing.
There is a longer exhale period to stimulate the parasympathetic system’s relaxation response. It then calms your mind and reduces the anxiousness the patient is feeling.
Switching sides, from left to right, is also essential. This move mimics the alternate nostril breathing in yoga. Ending on your right side is critical since this compresses the right nostril which makes you use the left side of your nose more for breathing. This action relaxes the right brain more. Hence, it is easier to sleep.
What Are The Benefits Of Mindfulness Meditation?
Various studies show that anal cancer patients who engage in this exercise improve their quality of life. Here are some of the benefits that mindfulness meditation provides:
- People who have cancer usually find it difficult to sleep. They typically experience fear and restlessness brought about their illness. Mindfulness meditation helps them relax their minds and steer away their focus from their problems. Meditation remediates their sleeping quality.
- This approach also lowers the stress level. Focusing on the present reduces the amount of cortisol, a stress hormone, in the body. Mindfulness meditation also helps control the stress felt from unwanted situations.
- Mindfulness meditation also improves physical health. Researches found out that this technique treats heart disease, lowers blood pressure, alleviates gastrointestinal difficulties, reduces chronic pain, and improves sleep.
- This approach also enhances an individual’s mood. Some cancer patients are known to have mood swings or extreme emotions. It is associated with the frustration they feel towards the world. Mindfulness meditation helps them get past this.
Mindfulness meditation is a difficult exercise. It might take several weeks, or even months to master this. However, if you put your mind to it, you will reap its benefit in no time.