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Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation, are among a number of different complementary therapies that can help patients cope with the effects of cancer. Relaxation strategies can be adapted for different ages, and most strategies can be used in almost any setting. These techniques can reduce distress and help patients manage side effects such as pain, fatigue, and nausea.
The body’s natural response to relaxation includes a lower heart rate, slower breathing pattern, lower blood pressure, and feelings of enhanced well-being. Research has found that these techniques can help with a number of common problems experienced during cancer treatment including:
Relaxation is a broad term used to describe a number of strategies that can reduce the effects of stress on the mind and body. Specific techniques include breathing exercises, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, and autogenic training.
Relaxation techniques are safe for most people, and adverse effects from these strategies are uncommon. However, certain relaxation techniques could cause negative emotions or deepen existing mental health problems. It is also likely that certain techniques might work better for some people. Seek guidance from the care team before trying any complementary therapy.
Relaxation and meditation techniques can have many benefits for children and teens with cancer when used along with standard treatments. Many of these strategies can be adapted for a wide range of ages and can be used at any time. Because patients can learn these techniques to do on their own whenever needed, they can have more control and greater confidence in coping with symptoms and health challenges.
These strategies can also be helpful for parents and caregivers. Research shows that lower levels of parental stress benefit children. In other words, if parents are calm and relaxed, children are more likely to be calm and relaxed. Children also learn coping strategies from parents. If parents use adaptive strategies to handle stress and fears associated with cancer, then children can find positive ways to manage their own stress.
Reviewed: February 2023