Category Archives: Stress

How To Live In The Moment – 9 Tips

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng and Lumix2004
Photo courtesy of stock.xchng and Lumix2004

I was taught by a dear friend of mine, Judy, the importance of living in the moment when I was going through breast cancer.  I guess it had never occurred to me before then…

I was sitting with her in the sunshine on her porch and I had just been diagnosed and was feeling fairly traumatized by the notion that I had an unwanted “guest” in my body.

Judy was listening to my long litany of things I was worrying about – chief among them being “What if everything I do turns out not to be enough?”  Judy gave me a gift that day, by saying “Well you can certainly go down that road and worry yourself endlessly.  Or you can choose to just live in the moment.  Appreciate the here and now as fully as you can.”  That turned out to be life-changing advice, and I thank my friend Judy from the bottom of my heart for that beautiful lesson.

We Can Get Lost In the Past and Agonize About the Future

Being a human isn’t easy.  Our brains, which are so marvelous at figuring out complex things, can also be the bane of our existence.  We can listen to the tales our brain tells us – worrying endlessly about what happened at a party last week, what people will think, how big our credit card bill is – on and on and on.

Sometimes our brain gets fixated on the future, however, and if we are anxious or fearful about that, it can be paralyzing.  The trick is not to let our mind control us, rather, to take hold of the mind and direct it where you WANT it to go.

The reason I believe that living in the moment is important when you’re going through breast cancer is because there are so many things about which to be anxious and fearful.  Living in the moment truly strips that away and helps you to be more fully alive NOW (which is really all that matters – the here and now!)

My Favorite 9 Tips On Living In The Moment

  1. Release Your Self-Conscious Anxiety – If you can, release your worries about what people are thinking of you.  Most people are so focused on themselves, they really are not thinking about you as much as you think they are.  Who cares what they think anyway?  It simply does not matter.
  2. Truly Savor The Present Moment – Be alive to it, use all of your senses.  Really hear the song that is playing or what your child is telling you, totally immerse yourself in the beautiful colors of a sunset, truly feel your clothes touching your skin, taste that mouthful of food you just took – endeavor to identify exactly what you’re tasting.  If you’re doing something you perceive as boring (like walking to the bus stop), treat it as a meditation and observe with new eyes each thing you see on the journey – a bird, another human (smile at them!), a squirrel rushing past.  Your world is changing constantly – be alive to it.
  3. Be Very Mindful – All The Time! – This works especially well in your relationships with others and initially can be a little hard to do.  But the more you practice it, the better you get at it.  Simply put, it involves NOT reacting with anger in situations where you normally would.  Take a moment and really think about what is being said, how it’s meant.  The Buddhists call this recognizing the spark before the flame.  In short you are inhabiting your own mind more fully, by not reacting and pausing a moment to think about things you are being fully present.  When you do respond, do your best not to respond in anger but with thoughtfulness.
  4. Don’t Avoid Pain – By pushing away painful thoughts (or even physical pain) you are simply postponing dealing with it.  By facing it fully, accepting it for what it is and then releasing it (whether via a talk with your psychotherapist or a massage or whatever you need to do) you bring yourself fully into this moment.
  5. Meditation Assists – Living in the moment gets easier with meditation because you are actively clearing thoughts from your mind (like the wind blows clouds from the sky) when you meditate and concentrating on an affirmation or your breath.  When you notice your mind has wandered, simply bring it back to the present moment and your breath.
  6. Forgive What Has Happened In The Past – That old saying “To err is human, to forgive divine” has never been more true.  When you forgive someone for a wrong you perceived they have committed, you free yourself from the past and this allows you to be more present now.
  7. Do One Thing At A Time – When you are multi-tasking (and I know you are… we’re all guilty!) you are quite unable to focus on any one thing and give it your full attention.  Resist the urge to rush through it.  Do it slowly, thoughtfully, mindfully, like it was the single most important thing you ever had to do.  Try smiling while you’re doing it.
  8. Leave Blank Holes in Your “To Do” List – Resist the urge to schedule things really close together for 14 hours straight. Give yourself a little wiggle room to breathe, meditate, take a walk or simply sit and do nothing!  We have become human DOINGS rather than human BEINGS.  Just sit and “be”.
  9. Do Something Nice For Someone – Whether it’s for someone you love or a total stranger, nothing helps you to be more in the moment than to let someone know you care by doing something nice for them.  Even just smiling at a stranger as you pass by could have an impact on their entire day.  Hold a door open for someone, give up your seat on the bus to an older person, cook your spouse their favorite meal unexpectedly, tell someone how much they mean to you.  It feels really good – to them and to you.

A final note:  When I am stressing about something it’s almost always because I’m reaching too far into the future and feeling concerned about it.  It helps to bring yourself back to “right now” by asking yourself “Am I okay right now?”  If the answer is yes, then feel gratitude and stay with that feeling for as long as you can.  Because right now is all we have.  90% of the things we worry about never happen.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

Your Emotional Health Is Important When You’re Going Through Breast Cancer

Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and Zela
Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and Zela

Understanding how our emotional health impacts our physical selves was something that I really wanted to grasp when I was going through the breast cancer journey.  Being a massage therapist, I knew the two were inter-related and important.

Repressed Emotions Can Be Detrimental

One of my favorite authors, Dr Bernie Siegel, was a wonderful source of information to me and helped me understand how our emotional health impacts our physical health.

In his book Love Medicine & Miracles, Dr Siegel shared the importance of expressing your emotions when cancer is diagnosed.  He said that feelings of anger and rage are usually well founded and must not be repressed.  Dr Siegel stated “Unexpressed feelings depress your immune response.”  He went on to say that the people who show and express how they feel “survive adversity better than those who are emotionally constricted.”

Dr Siegel discussed a 1979 study by Leonard Derogatis and Martin Abeloff, John Hopkins Medical School, who studied 35 women with breast cancer and found that those who lived longer were much more expressive in their anger, fear, guilt and depression as compared to those women who suppressed their emotions.

This illustrates how much repressed emotions are injurious not only for your mental health but also your physical health.  Emotional honesty not only improves your health, but also helps you to receive better quality of care from your family and your health care providers.

5 Ways To Release Pent-Up Emotions

  1. Seek help from a qualified counselor – a psychotherapist can assist you to offload all of that toxic rubbish you’ve been carrying around in your brain for so long.
  2. Go stand on a mountain top – or some other secluded place – and have a word with your Maker.  Pour out your heart.  Rest assured that your words will be heard.
  3. Find an Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner – I used this myself when going through breast cancer and it helped alleviate stress and anxiety to a huge degree.  Dr Mercola has an informative video on his site about this technique.
  4. Try meditation.  It is an inward journey that will help you to come to know yourself much better and helps to alleviate so much of the anxiety and fear surrounding a cancer diagnosis.
  5. Bodywork such as deep tissue massage and aromatherapy can help you release emotions that have been residing within you.

This is so worth doing – emotional toxicity causes so much disruption in our lives such as depression, insomnia, physical pain, and yes, cancer.  Seek some help, give yourself the best chance to heal.

I send my love to everyone taking this journey right now. If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

Johns Hopkins Advocates Integrated Cancer Care

 

Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and hisks
Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and hisks

Johns Hopkins Advocates Integrated Cancer Care

For those who were not able to attend the webinar put on by Johns Hopkins Medicine on December 17th, following please find my notes and ramblings from that webinar.  I hope you find them useful.

The webinar was titled Integrative Medicine: How Acupuncture, The Mind/Body Connection, Holistic Eating and Chinese Medicine and Other Modalities Can Help Survivors During and After Treatment.  Which is kind of a long-winded title, but they wanted to tell you exactly what they’d be covering and that title does the trick

Webinar Overview

The webinar was presented by Dr Linda Lee and Mr Jeff Gould and it ran for about an hour.  Dr Lee spoke about how the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine Center viewed integrative medicine as being the best of scientific medicine with a broader understanding of the nature of illness, that integrative medicine enhanced conventional medicine rather than replacing it.  They preferred the term “integrative” rather than “alternative” or “complementary” because alternative seeks an “alternate” approach to conventional medicine, it connotes a turning away, while the term complementary was too broad.

The Johns Hopkins website further defines integrative medicine: “Integrative medicine encompasses a broad range of therapeutic approaches to achieve optimal health and wellness for those who are ill or those who are concerned about disease prevention. It is a powerful resource for those seeking to participate actively in their healthcare.”

A Holistic Diet for Cancer Patients

Dr Lee spoke first and discussed holistic eating quite simply – she quoted author Michael Pollan, whose advice was to “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  I loved that – it says so much so succintly!

Dr Lee warned us against eating highly processed foods and too many food additives.  She said we should try not to eat too much meat, especially beef, and that we should strive for a balanced approach in our food choices.  Volumes could be written (and have been) about the best nutrition for cancer patients – for more definitive information, see my page Diet and Cancer.

Dr Lee addressed the concerns of those going through chemotherapy, she had some good advice for what to eat when you don’t feel like eating, for those taste bud issues and digestive problems.  She advised using a blender or food processor (I would say JUICER) and put your food into that.

She had no real recommendations about WHAT to put in the blender – other than you wouldn’t put a spaghetti dinner in there, for instance.  She just said it’s easier to process liquid foods like smoothies and shakes.  She recommended having multiple small meals, rather than 3 bigger meals per day.  Dr Lee recommended the book One Bite At A Time – Nourishing Recipes for Cancer Survivors and Their Friends by Rebecca Katz, which I’ve added to my Recommended Reading list.

I’ll go a little farther than these recommendations and direct you to my article Do You Know The Benefits of Juicers For Cancer Patients.

Dietary Myths in Cancer

Dr Lee discussed some of the dietary myths she had encountered from her patients – we’ll start with the myth, then Dr Lee’s refutal:

  1. Avoid sugar because it feeds cancer – this one surprised me because I do advocate avoiding sugar if you have active cancer in your body.  Dr Lee disagreed, saying a moderate amount of sugar is okay, it won’t cause your cancer to get bigger.  So, I’ve softened my stance on this a little bit and found a good article for you that discusses moderation.
  2. Eat whatever foods you want and as much of them as you like – eating as much as you like of something isn’t advisable if you’re undergoing chemotherapy and having digestive issues, smaller meals are better.
  3. Eat fried foods because they will give you more calories if you’ve lost weight during cancer treatment – Dr Lee advised fried foods are NOT a good idea because they increase nausea.
  4. Being overweight is better than being underweight – Not true for breast cancer, Dr Lee says.  Fat cells create estrogen and if you had/have estrogen receptor positive tumor(s) being overweight can actually cause more problems for you.

Vitamin Supplements

Dr Lee advised caution when taking vitamins – because adverse affects are not always known and they may have interactions with some of the drugs you are on.  She did not have anything against taking vitamins, she merely advised caution, suggesting a person see an herbalist or dietician for guidance (I’d say see a trained naturopath) and always let your oncologist know what you are doing.  Dr Lee suggested referring to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website.

Mind/Body Approach

My favorite part of the webinar was the discussion of how using mind/body medicine can help cancer patients.  Dr Lee went out on a limb and said that STRESS CAN AFFECT CANCER GROWTH.  I’ve been saying this for years and I was so glad to hear someone from the medical world acknowledge and affirm this.

Dr Lee advised that chronic emotional stress can have a negative impact on cancer, and she discussed how the hormones released during stressful periods affect inflammation, cellular immune response and other key factors and that getting stress treated was really important.  She advocated the use of one or more of the following therapies (all of which I also recommend on this site and in my newsletters):

  • yoga
  • meditation
  • tai chi
  • massage
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy
  • guided imagery
  • hypnotherapy
  • support groups
  • journaling
  • exercise

I found a good article for you from the Mayo Clinic which discusses exactly how stress hormones wreak havoc on our body.

Mr Jeff Gould On The Chinese Medicine Approach

The second part of the webinar was handed over to Jeff Gould, a Chinese medicine practitioner at the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine Center.  Mr Gould discussed many aspects of Chinese medicine, I will highlight the most interesting points he made:

    • Chinese medicine is what he termed individualized medicine. He might see 10 patients with breast cancer, but each patient may get a different treatment protocol based on the symptoms they present with on that day.
    • Chinese medicine is very holistic – practitioners don’t just treat physical symptoms (such as cancer), but also the emotional and spiritual aspects of a person.  He said one of his patients, in an effort to describe what they felt like after an acupuncture treatment, called it “a lightness of being”.  I thought that was a very good description.
    • Mr Gould called Chinese medicine a highly effective adjunct to Western medicine, it has been utilized quite effectively for over 3,000 years.
    • Mr Gould mentioned that the Chinese also use diet as a therapy – that Chinese medicine looks at the energetics of food vs the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.  They use food to promote health AND also to treat illness.  I was quite interested to find out that certain restaurants in China will have doctors who will greet you at the door, take a look at your vital signs (which are quite different to Western medicine – they are more likely to look at your tongue and take your pulses than to check your blood pressure, etc.) and then recommend certain things on the menu to assist with your current signs/symptoms.
    • When using Chinese herbs, your herbalist will tailor make a formula for you based on your unique constellation of symptoms and these are modified each week as symptoms change.
    • Mr Gould specifically mentioned chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, saying that the best time to treat that is BEFORE symptoms begin – he said it’s much easier to keep it from happening than to treat it after it has already happened.
    • We were reminded that herbs are drugs and as such, can have side effects and interactions with other drugs.  He also warned to use a trained herbalist when using herbs for any illness.
    • Mr Gould also did not recommend using Chinese medicine alone to treat cancer, but as an adjunct.

All in all, I thought it a very good webinar, well presented, and with good, concise information.  If you have any specific questions, please contact me.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

Stress Hits An All-Time High – Here’s Some Relief

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and imagerymajestic
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and imagerymajestic

Everywhere I go this week, I’m running into people that are stressed.  And it’s only Monday!

For those of you who are stressed out, I put together this article today with some things that I hope will help.

There are some nice You Tube videos (links below) that will help you de-stress.

This first one features pressure points on your hands and collar bone that you can press to help relieve stress (they actually work): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPH0ihwVPkM&amp

Here’s one called How to Meditate in a Moment:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6eFFCi12v8

Here’s an hour worth of “Ocean Chill-Out Music” guaranteed to bring the stress down a few notches (skip the ad):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fz8yTq0cqhg&feature=related

Here’s a great one called “How to Calm Down in 10 Seconds”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xI3sVuH7rms

I feel better already just doing the research and finding the videos.  Hope it helps you too!

Remember to breathe.  And smile.  Everyone will wonder what you’re up to.

 If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

I Have Always Said Breast Cancer is Caused By More Than One Thing…

 

breast cancer cells
Breast Cancer Cells

After watching my mother and grandmother go through breast cancer, reading more than 80 books and countless research articles on the subject and then going through it myself, I have long felt that breast cancer is caused by more than one thing.

So I was really interested to read a recent article in the Huffington Post entitled “Breast Cancer is 10 Different Diseases Landmark Study Finds“.

Landmark British Study

The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Cambridge, Cancer Research UK, the University of Columbia, Canada and a number of other institutions worldwide. It was funded by Cancer Research UK, the British Columbia Cancer Foundation and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and published in the scientific journal “Nature”.

The study examined variations in DNA in nearly 2,000 breast tumors in what was the largest such study of breast cancer tissue in the world, the culmination of decades of work.

The Familiar 4 Subgroups of Breast Cancer

The researchers decided that the term “breast cancer” should be an umbrella term for what appeared to them to be at least 10 quite different diseases.  Up until now, breast cancer had been classified into four subgroups:

  1. Double positive cancers that had high levels of both estrogen and progesterone receptors on tumor cells
  2. Tumors that exhibit high levels of either ER or PR receptors
  3. Double negative cancers that had neither estrogen or progesterone receptors
  4. Tumors that exhibit high levels of HER2, a protein discovered in the 90’s that appears to drive breast cancer in some women

More Articles…

The Huffington Post article was rather disappointing to me because it did not list the other 6 new subgroups, leading me to search further afield.

Britain’s Daily Mail had the article as well and I got a few more tidbits of information:

  • because further research was required, it would be 3-5 years before women with breast cancer would start reaping the benefits of more targeted treatments
  • researchers were pleased because they were closer to their goal for women to receive tailor-made treatments specific to their particular type of breast cancer
  • researchers hoped to speed up the search for more targeted therapy for triple negative breast cancer

The Daily Mail article said “The ‘exquisitely detailed’ analysis also revealed several new genes that drive the growth and spread of the disease. This opens the door for the development of drugs that counter their effects. Knowledge of the genetics of each type of the disease will also speed the development of drugs, allowing women to have treatments tailored to their tumor. A handful of such ‘wonder-drugs’, including Herceptin, are already in use.”

Still no mention of the other 6 subgroups.

Finally an Answer

I spent a few hours reading articles and finally found the very best one that described the 10 clusters or subgroups of breast cancer.  Click here to read this terrific article, written by Henry Scowcroft of scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org. It’s a long one, but worth reading.  Scroll down the page to the paragraph titled “The ten clusters”. There’s no point in my describing the other 6 subgroups of breast cancer when he’s done such a beautiful job of it.

I loved the fact that the researchers were making it a priority to focus on the links between the immune system and cancer, something I’ve felt for a long time should be a primary focus when treating breast cancer.

I would also like to see research being done relating to how stress plays a part in the development of breast cancer.  Nearly every single survivor I’ve spoken to has admitted to me that stress was a huge factor in their lives leading up to the discovery of their breast cancer.  It was the same for me.

So – we’ll have to wait awhile for the results of this study and it won’t help the women going through breast cancer right now, but certainly future generations will reap the benefits.

One other question comes to mind – while I’m grateful to Britain’s researchers for doing this kind of work I do wonder why it’s so frequently British and Australian researchers that are making great strides in breast cancer.  What the heck is going on in American research labs?

Resources:
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/04/19/breast-cancer-cancer-research-uk-disease-10-categories-dr-harpal-kumar_n_1436498.html?ref=uk#slide=831773
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2131616/Breast-cancer-treatment-British-study-classifies-disease-10-different-types.html
http://www.nhs.uk/news/2012/04april/Pages/breast-cancer-genetic-diversity-mapped.aspx
http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2012/04/18/increasing-the-resolution-on-breast-cancer-the-metabric-study/

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Reduce Stress with this Lovely YouTube Video

Reduce Stress with this Lovely YouTube Video
Photo courtesy of stock.xchng and miamiamia

Reduce Stress Levels

If you are trying to reduce your stress levels, you can’t go wrong with this wonderful YouTube video I found.

It’s a chakra cleansing and clearing meditation and what I loved about it was the narrator’s voice.  Her name is Lisa Beachy (Meditations for Moms) and she has one of the calmest voices I think I’ve ever heard.

It only takes 6 minutes to do this meditation and I guarantee you will feel your stress levels declining as you do it.

Go on – give it a try!  CLICK HERE.

I have also created a meditation for you using one of my personal favorite white light meditations.  To download it (it’s free), go to my page: Guided Meditation

I send my love to everyone taking this journey right now. If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

Dr Siegel Talks About Emotions and the Immune System

Scanning electron micrograph of a white blood cell

Dr Siegel Talks About Emotions and the Immune System

In his book, Love Medicine and Miracles, Dr Bernie Siegel has some important things to say about modern medicine and the immune system:

The modern medicine man has gained so much power over certain diseases through drugs that he has forgotten about the potential strength within the patient…  Contentment used to be considered a prerequisite for health.

Dr Siegel also makes the point, “We can change the body by dealing with how we feel.  If we ignore our despair, the body receives a ‘die’ message.  If we deal with our pain and seek help, then the message is ‘Living is difficult but desirable’ and the immune system works to keep us alive.

Stress is Also a Factor

On the subject of stress, Dr Siegel tells us that “The way we react to stress appears to be more important than the stress itself… Stresses that we choose evoke a response totally different from those we’d like to avoid but cannot.  Helplessness is worse than the stress itself.

I believe this is borne out by the statistics that tell us that in the U.S. the cancer rate is higher for those of African American descent than for the white population.

Grief and the Immune System

Dr Siegel says “Recent studies have confirmed that grieving spouses have depressed immune systems for over a year…  Additional work has shown that within one day any uncontrollable stress lowers the efficiency of the body’s disease fighting killer cells.”

To me, all of the above just illustrates the importance of eliminating stress from our lives.  Find out about the benefits of meditation and get a handle on those stress levels!  In the lead-up to my breast cancer diagnosis, I had a huge amount of mis-handled stress and I know it was partially responsible for my having breast cancer.  Meditation is one of the healing tools I used, it helped me immensely.  So much, in fact, that I created a downloadable how-to-meditate course specifically for cancer patients.  I hope it helps you.

 If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

Beat Stress Before it Beats You: Relaxing Apps to Download

Beat Stress Before it Beats You Relaxing Apps to Download

Image source freedigitalphotos.net / Stuart Miles

Feeling stressed these days?  I haven’t run into anyone that hasn’t been feeling the stress of modern life. Fortunately, there are some great relaxing apps to download that will help you!

I find it funny that one of the things that stresses me (my smart phone) is also one of the things that is providing me with some soothing relief.

Stress seems to be the one thing that most breast cancer patients tell me is their constant companion, particularly in the initial phase of diagnosis, absorbing the information and getting together a treatment regimen.  Most breast cancer patients have told me that they were experiencing unrelenting stress in their lives prior to their diagnosis (and that was true for me also).

So I set out to find some of the best smart phone apps I could, thinking that if your smart phone is your other constant companion, you might as well use it to help you de-stress and regain some inner peace!

7 Relaxing Apps to Download

  1. White noise: you can choose from ocean waves, crickets, etc.  Users say it really can help put you to sleep.  Available for iPhones and iPads at iTunes for $1.99.
  2. Yoga apps: since there are many, the link is to a great article written by Regis Chapman at appolicious.com.  Regis has spent a lot of time doing the research on this one, so read the article and choose an app you like (free & various prices).
  3. Louise Hay Affirmation Meditations app: wonderful affirmations from Louise Hay, one of my favorite authors on the subject of healing your body and mind.  Available at hayhouse.com.
  4. Meditations for Relaxation and Stress Reduction: from Joan Borysenko, a noted author, lecturer and healer.  Available at hayhouse.com for $5.99.
  5. Dr Wayne Dyer Inspirations: from Dr Wayne Dyer, inspirational author, lecturer and healer.  Lovely affirmation cards you can use daily to enhance your health and happiness.  Available at amazon.com.
  6. iZen Garden for iPad: chosen as one of the top 500 apps in the world by The Sunday Times of London and much beloved by its users.  Available at iTunes for $4.99.
  7. Relax and Rest: Guided Meditations: one user said “I have been using this app for almost a year now. It truly helps in reducing anxiety that I deal with. I think everyone should use this app once a day to stay relaxed. Or use the 24 minute program to put you right to sleep.”  Available from iTunes for just under a buck!

Okay, stress bunnies – try out these apps and let me know how you like them!  What other apps are you using to help yourself unwind? Let me know in the comments below.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach).  It is my honor to help you through this.

Great Cancer Forum Offers Advice for Reducing Stress

 

Great Cancer Forum Offers Advice for Reducing Stress
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and dan

Great Cancer Forum Offers Advice for Reducing Stress

One of the things that people going through cancer tell me is that their stress levels are sky high.  And no wonder – between the diagnosis no one wants to get, the treatments that you need to find time for, and the side effects of said treatments, stress levels go right through the roof.

The American Cancer Society has a great forum you can join – it’s called What Next – and they really do a great job of helping cancer patients deal with all of the things that happen to them.

I’m a member of What Next and I’m really impressed by the quality of answers people receive when they ask questions, it’s a really helpful resource for the newly diagnosed.  It’s also a great place to offer help if you’re community minded.  Got a question?  Just post it and see what follows – it might not be immediate, but you will get answers.

They recently posted an article titled Reducing Stress From Your Life written by Rob Harris, founder of RobCares.com, a website written for caregivers.  I loved what he had to say about stress, and the five tips he gives to reduce your stress levels.  Please read the article, especially if you’re going through a stressful time.  It’s excellent advice.

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.

Creating Positive Affirmations That Work

 

Creating Positive Affirmations That Work
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and Stuart Miles

Creating Positive Affirmations That Work

Yesterday I discussed how to bring positive thinking into your life and part of doing that is being able to put together positive affirmations that will work.

Positive affirmations are one of the most important elements of acquiring a positive frame of mind.  To affirm means “make firm”.  An affirmation is a strong, positive statement that something is already so.  Why is this important?

Because of that inner dialogue that runs through our minds – if it’s continually negative it can drag you down into a negative spiral.  Do you think marathon runners are continually thinking self-defeating thoughts like “I’ll never be able to finish this race!”  or “I’m so damn tired, I’m never going to get to the finish line!”  I can assure you they are not thinking this, but if they are, they are most likely not going to win that race.

Fighting cancer can be a lot like running a marathon.  That’s why I’m reinforcing the power of having a positive attitude.  There are some good ways of creating positive affirmations and some really unhelpful ways.  It is a powerful technique, so let’s get it right because it is SO worth doing.

“The practice of engaging in affirmations allows us to begin replacing some of our stale, worn out, or negative mind chatter with more positive ideas and concepts.”  – Shakti Gawain in “Creative Visualization“.

Affirmations can be done silently, spoken out loud, written down (I like them on the dashboard of the car!), or even sung or chanted.  And they are best used whenever one of those old, negative thoughts enters your head.

The Best Way to Create Positive Affirmations

  • Always phrase them in the present tense, not in the future – create your desire as if it already exists.  Not “I will be healthy by the end of this year”, but “I am glowingly healthy, whole and complete in myself”.  The words “I Am” are very powerful.
  • Always phrase affirmations in the most positive way you can by stating what you DO want, not what you don’t want.  Not “I no longer have cancer in my body”, rather “I am vibrantly healthy and happy to be alive”.  (The reason for this is that your mind doesn’t acknowledge negatives like “no longer” – it just hears “cancer in my body”.  Repeat those two statements and see which one feels better in your body – I think you’ll agree the second one is much more powerful)
  • Short and simple affirmations are more effective.  Long, wordy affirmations lose their emotional impact and can be hard to remember.
  • Choose the words that feel right for you – what works for one may not work for another.
  • You are creating something new and fresh – so be aware that you may have some inner resistance at first.  Keep at it!  Try to suspend your doubts and hesitations.

Positive affirmations are powerful when used in combination with visualizing or imagery.  Some people who are actively battling cancer (especially children – they are good at this) like to imagine what their cancer cells look like and then create a strong, powerful enemy (their immune system) easily overcoming the cancer cells.  I would suggest even drawing a picture – it doesn’t matter if you aren’t artistic – your picture comes from you and can be very powerful.

My favorite affirmation is one I use whenever anxiety hits:  I AM SUPREMELY CALM.  Paired with a deep breath it works every time.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  When you’re in a desperate situation, you need an ally.  You can depend on me to help you through this.

Stress Driving You Crazy? Meditation Offers a Calming Solution

stress driving you crazy meditation offers a calming solution
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net & adamr

If Stress Is Driving YOU Crazy,,,

First of all, take a deep breath.  Now, keep reading.

Anyone going through a prolonged period of stress will tell you it’s no fun.  Whether it be job related or due to a relationship, illness or even just one very bad day, stress can create situations you just want (and need) to get out of.

The problem with prolonged stress is that it can wreck your health.  High blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, cardiac arrhythmia, immune related disorders, asthma, ulcers, digestive disorders, migraines, backaches, even cancer can all be related to unmitigated stress.

For myself, a prolonged period of poorly managed stress led to my breast cancer diagnosis.  I’m not saying that stress caused my cancer, because I know that’s not true.  But I’m positive that it undermined my immune system and probably helped to open the door.

Meditation Offers a Calming Solution.

Take heart – meditation offers a calming solution.

Buddhism tells us that we can’t change what happens to us, we can only change how we react to it.

By meditating only when you feel stressed – well at least you’re finding a way to cope with the stress and that’s a wonderful start.  By meditating each and every day, however, you are finding ways to train your brain so that when stressful things occur, you actually can change the way you react to it and the outcome of the stress can be quite different.

I have recently heard that kindergarten children are being taught how to meditate now and I think that’s absolutely fantastic.  But more than anything else meditation is being used as a personal growth device these days—for instilling a more positive attitude into our lives.

Learning meditation was one of the best things I did for myself when going through breast cancer.  It helped me cope during those times when I wasn’t coping well, it helped me through all of the medical tests and chemotherapy.  It’s a very powerful thing to do for yourself.  Just Google the words “meditation benefits” and you’ll get all the information on this subject you’re ever likely to need!

Update 2/4/2013   Because of the fact that so many of my subscribers live in areas that do not offer meditation classes, I have put together my own meditation course for you.  Here is more information about it.  You can also join my new Facebook page on meditation (search for “Change Your Life Meditation”).

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  When you’re in a desperate situation, you need an ally.  You can depend on me to help you through this.

 

How Crucial is Meditation When You’re Going Through Breast Cancer?

 

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.com and dan
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.com and dan

How Crucial Is Meditation When You’re Going Through Breast Cancer?

I believe meditation to be one of the very best and most important things you can do for yourself when you’re going through breast cancer.

I also feel it’s important to help reduce your risk of cancer.

It can also be one of the hardest things to learn.  It takes patience and often, classes you might not have time for.  I would strongly advise making time for meditation though – its benefits are far-reaching.  It can often mean the difference between being cool, calm and collected and being a raving maniac (and who wants that?).  It can help you to feel more in control of your thoughts, feelings and fears, it can assist you through all of the associated cancer treatments, it really is that important.

Dr Bernie Siegel’s Thoughts on Meditation

I’ve borrowed this excerpt from “Love, Medicine & Miracles” by Dr Bernie Siegel about meditation:  “I know of no other single activity that by itself can produce such a great improvement in the quality of life.”  He goes on to list the physical benefits: lowering or normalization of blood pressure, pulse rate and levels of stress hormones in the blood; less excitable brain-wave patterns; increase in pain threshold; an improvement in white blood cell response and hormone response to physical stress. 

In fact, meditation offers over 100 benefits to the meditator – just Google the words “meditation benefits” and you’ll see many articles on the subject.

Get Some Control Back

Everything that happens to a cancer patient can make you feel so out of control, like your life really isn’t yours (it seems to belong to your doctors!), and all the tests and treatment can have a very draining effect.  Meditation is one of the best things I did for myself that helped me through it all, and it has assisted many others.  I really believe it will help you too.

To get you started, I’ve created a downloadable how-to-meditate course specifically for cancer patients.  It is my honor to help you through this.

Not sure?  Check out my Testimonials page to see what others thought about my information.

 If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Do You Believe Overwhelming Stress and Breast Cancer are Linked?

do you believe overwhelming stress and breast cancer are linked
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and m bartosch

Is there a link between stress and breast cancer?

While I’m not an expert, I definitely do believe that there’s a link between stress and breast cancer.

In the cancer support group which I co-led, 90% of the members agreed that unrelenting stress led up to their cancer diagnosis and that was certainly the case for me as well.  When I am contacted for breast cancer coaching, it’s always one of the first questions I ask – What do you feel led up to your diagnosis of breast cancer?  99% of my people agree that prolonged periods of stress were experienced in the lead-up to their cancer diagnosis.

There is a reason for that – stress undermines the immune system.

April is National Stress Awareness Month, so this is as good a time as any to talk about it.  The Huffington Post had a good article about this today with some good (and quick) slides demonstrating 7 Ways to De-Stress.  I loved this article because it was to the point, there were pictures (and we always seem to learn better with visual aids!) and you won’t get stressed about how long it takes to read it!

I know this is a short post, but read the Huffington Post article and start to get the stress out of your life.  I believe that’s absolutely crucial.  You might also like my recent article about meditation.  I found learning meditation to be absolutely crucial to my recovery – meditation has so many benefits (literally hundreds!), I can’t recommend it highly enough.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  When you’re in a desperate situation, you need an ally.  You can depend on me to help you through this.