First up, please find here the link to the excellent title, The Breast Cancer Book, by Kenneth D Miller, and Melissa Camp, a welcome addition to anyone’s bookshelf on a guide for “you and your loved ones”. Congratulations to the team.
Now, we’ve asked for some expert advice on fitness and anxiety for breast cancer month. Here is what they had to say.
Fitness tips from Alexandra Merisoiu
Going through such an experience as breast cancer puts your body through a multitude of physical, emotional, mental, hormonal, chemical and even social changes. When it comes to returning to exercise, here are my top three tips.
First, make sure you talk to your doctor about the right time to start or resume exercising and get advice from them in terms of what type of fitness routine is best for you to start with to ensure you don’t over stretch or fatigue your body too much too early.
Second, take your time to recover and heal. This isn’t about you getting ready for a race in a record time, but about getting your body used to movement again. When you feel fatigued, rest, when you feel the need for a light walk, do so without worrying whether or not you achieved your goals for the week.
Choose a type of exercise you enjoy and create a very flexible routine. This will make it easier for you to stick to a routine. However, as I said before, take your time. Make your routine flexible, so that if you don’t feel like doing what you initially planned you don’t get upset, but simply carry on. I do recommend creating a fitness plan so you have something to work towards and not just do random exercises.
Running Mechanics Coach
‘Anxiety is something we all deal with in our lives. It is good to stop and listen to what your mind is telling you when you start to feel anxious. Don’t try to fight the feelings of anxiety, accept that you are experiencing these emotions and try to face them head on. It is better to feel this emotion and let it go, than fighting it – that will take you longer to forget about.
It has become more commonplace to receive calls about anxiety and psychological stress linked to worries and concerns about our health. With NHS services overwhelmed, it is completely normal to feel anxious and stressed. Recovering from any illness can take its tool. Remind yourself these are normal feelings, and you are doing your best.
By practicing mindfulness techniques and self-hypnosis we can overcome a range of feelings that might be affecting our daily life, such as, how to cope with healing, both mentally and physically. Your mind and body have been through an ordeal remember that.
We can re-programme the subconscious mind to feel in control of our mind and body so you will control feelings of anxiety when you need help. I would devise a range of coping techniques for the client to practice.
A good tip is to practice self-hypnosis once a day when you wake up in the morning by breathing slowly, softly and meditating.
You need to sit still; have a glass of cold water and concentrate on your breathing in order to take back control of the situation.
Repeat to yourself ‘I can breathe’, ‘I will not panic’, and ‘I am calm’ until you feel your heart rate slow. Anxiety and panic are linked to a feeling of a loss of control, and by regaining control you can get the anxiety back under control. By staying calm and concentrating on your breathing it will help you to think clearly about how you choose to handle the situation you are presented with.
Finally, don’t wait until you are feeling panicked to start using your breathing techniques – use them every day.
I always encourage patients to spend about three minutes a day minimum (and up to 20 minutes if possible) concentrating on breathing and really focusing on being ‘present.
Take time to think about breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth slowly and concentrate on this alone. A great breathing technique is to count to 5 on the inhalation and pause 2 seconds and exhale for the count of 7 lightly pinching the bridge of your nose to assist controlled exhalation airflow.
This will help your mind and body relax and help you to feel accustomed to the practice, which you’ll then start to incorporate into situations when you are faced with your triggers. This simple yet transformative technique will be life changing’.