Maintaining a Healthy Mind

It can be difficult to accept the changes that the lymphoma experience can bring upon your relationships, career, or even daily lifestyle. There may have been choices that have been taken from you, and this can be a difficult reality to face. Whatever the challenges were, one thing is for certain, you have endured quite an emotional rollercoaster ride.

Although you may not be able to control the challenges that lie ahead, you can definitely manage the way you deal with them. As these situations arise, acknowledge them, think about them, and deal with them. There are a number of techniques to help you maintain a healthy mind and address difficulties in proactive and positive ways.

There is also a growing body of evidence that shows the correlation between a healthy mind and physiological benefits. While it cannot prevent or cure lymphoma, it can improve your overall health, induce relaxation, and alleviate both emotional and physical pain caused by lymphoma and/or lymphoma treatment. Some effective methods to help maintain a healthy mind can include structured practices such as:

  • Meditation: uses focused breathing and/or repetition of words, phrases, or an object to help calm and relax the mind – it can be practiced while sitting or lying still or in combination with physical movement
  • Guided Imagery: mental exercises such as imagining pleasant images through storytelling are used to help relax and reduce negative or stressful feelings
  • Hypnosis: uses a phrase or a nonverbal cue called a “suggestion” to help a person achieve a specific outcome such as changing certain behaviours or gaining control over specific symptoms
  • Relaxation: also referred to as progressive relaxation, uses focused tightening and relaxing of each muscle group and is usually combined with guided imagery and breathing exercises
  • Biofeedback: uses electronic devices to coach your body to have a relaxation response by controlling your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, muscle tension, or other bodily functions
  • Music therapy: music through personal enjoyment or under the guidance of a musical therapist is used to induce or restore mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health

You can seek out professionals or organizations that incorporate these techniques into their practices or consult with your healthcare team for a referral. As with any lifestyle or treatment practice, it is important to consult with your healthcare team to discuss any questions or concerns. Other important ways to improve your mind’s health are less formal, but it is important to recognize their benefits as well. These include creative expression, spending time with friends, laughter, and physical outlets. Evidence from several studies of people with cancer suggest that practices such as these have positive benefits on your mind, can enhance your mood, reduce your symptoms, improve certain parts of your immune system, positively impact your ability to cope, and improve your overall quality of life.

References:

Canadian Association for Music Therapy. Music therapy
Accessed May 30, 2014

Canadian Cancer Society. Mind-body Medicine
Accessed May 30, 2014

Cancer Support Community. Mind Body
Accessed May 30, 2014

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Relaxation Techniques for Health: An Introduction
Accessed May 30, 2014