Coping Strategies for People Living With Cancer

When you are diagnosed with cancer, you may experience feelings of emotional distress like stress or fear. But there are many ways to help cope with these feelings. Hear from people living with cancer and their caregivers to learn about some strategies that may help you cope with your feelings.

Finding Hope

Help Handling Anxiety

Relying on Family

Incorporating an Emotional Support Animal

The Benefits of Journaling

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques are another way to get control of your feelings. The techniques involve refocusing your attention on something calming and increasing awareness of your body. They may include:

Autogenic Relaxation

Teach your body to respond to the words you’re saying in your mind. For instance, repeating, “my breathing is calm and regular” for 30 seconds. Repeat this and you may start to feel a sense of calm and relaxation.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Learn the difference between how a tense muscle feels compared to a relaxed one. Try tensing your muscles for five seconds then relax for 30 seconds. Start with your toes and gradually work your way to your head and neck.


Imagine a place in your mind that takes you away from your stress to a peaceful and calming place. Try using as many senses as possible. For instance, if you’re on a beach, feel the sun on your skin and hear and smell the water.

More Relaxation Techniques

  • Deep breathing
  • Hypnosis
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Tai chi
  • Reiki
  • Energy Healing
  • Yoga
  • Biofeedback
  • Music and art therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

You can also look into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The idea behind it is that how and what you think impacts your feelings and actions. CBT helps you identify negative thoughts and change the way you view them. CBT can teach you to replace those thoughts with positive encouragement and focus on good events.

Please visit the Your Cancer Game Plan partner websites for additional resources and helpful ideas for communicating with family and friends.

Even if you are not currently experiencing emotional issues related to your cancer experience, keep this information handy in case you begin to feel any changes in your emotions at a later point; it may be helpful. If you have any questions or concerns, share them with your healthcare team. If you are experiencing serious emotional challenges, it is important to seek help immediately.

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