Relieving the Emotional and Physical Strain That Threatens Your Health
Living with cancer isn’t easy, and it’s certainly not relaxing. Stress can be a daily challenge, and although it can seem insurmountable at times, you need to get a handle on the problem before it complicates your health even more.
A chronic liver disease like cancer leaves your body more vulnerable to stress, and its devastating impact. A 2006 report published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology points out that anxiety, worry and fear can interfere with blood flow through your liver, and there’s evidence that the stress response encourages liver-damaging enzymes.
It’s crucial you relax in order to protect your liver from further damage and keep your immunity up. If you’re beginning to notice the signs of stress (like a sore jaw from teeth clenching, loss of libido or skin problems), take these tips to decompress quickly and easily.
Satisfy Food Cravings Right Way
It’s no secret that stress can lead you right to the pantry: once your cortisol levels begin to rise, food cravings are sure to follow, often in the form of a sweet tooth or an urge to fill up on carbohydrates. A bit of an indulgence can be good for your mood, and even your blood sugar — provided you choose a healthier treat.
In order to keep your body strong and energetic in your fight against liver cancer, opt for naturally sweet or starchy foods when you can’t wait out the craving. Sweet potatoes are surprisingly comforting, combining sugar and starch in healthy amounts, along with a host of vitamins. Other sugary treats to consider are oranges (vitamin C can help return cortisol levels back to normal), and dark chocolate, with its feel-good flavonoids.
Learn to Say No
If you’re a people-pleaser, you have some very noble virtues. You’re probably compassionate, encouraging and kind. On the other hand, your own comfort can fall by the wayside: by taking on every task that comes your way, you could be jeopardizing your energy levels and emotional balance.
When your energy is low or your schedule is full, it’s perfectly fine to say “no” to a request. It can be difficult to turn someone down, so if you’re not comfortable refusing altogether, you can adjust the task into something you can handle. Otherwise, just agree to a part of it — your body will thank you.
Concentrate on Things You Can Control
When you feel like you’re losing control, your body and mind can go into survival mode, triggering the stress response and keeping you tense. However, trying harder to control every variable in your life isn’t the way forward.
There’s one fact to keep in the front of your mind: nobody can control everything. Despite your best efforts to organize your life, you’re bound to run into road blocks like weather, traffic, and other people’s schedules. Learn to be more flexible, so you can save yourself the futile worry and energy.
Make Time for Things You Enjoy
When you’re juggling doctor visits, remembering medication, and managing the rest of your obligations, your hobbies and interests can suffer. Not only will this make for a pretty mundane life, it could also compound your stress.
Laughter is a known stress-reliever, but focusing on something fun can have a similarly calming effect. Whatever you really enjoy doing, find time for it at least a couple of times a week. Negative thinking triggers your brain to raise blood pressure and cortisol levels, but it’s difficult to feel bad about yourself when you’re doing something you love.
Next page: asking for help and three more ways to de-stress.