STRESS, PSYCHOLOGY & MENTAL HEALTH
Is your jaw aching? Are your shoulders tight? How are you sleeping?
Though your immediate response to each of these questions may be ‘I'm doing fine’, your body may have a different answer.
The body has defense mechanisms at work 24/7 to protect us, even when we are unaware of the tension building up within us. The actual and subconscious stress from having cancer and the trauma caused by the treatment can result in a wide variety of stress symptoms. You and your caregiver need to monitor your body reactions to alleviate any negative reactions.
10 weeks after my surgery, I thought I was feeling great. I was getting back to my old routine, including working around the house and regular rounds of golf, then BAM!!! All of a sudden my eyes wouldn’t focus, my equilibrium was way off, and my neck and shoulders muscles were extremely tight. I was shocked and extremely upset. Reaching out to the doctor didn't seem 'manly', but okay, okay all ready! I contacted my optometrist and other doctors, explaining that I was experiencing a focus and equilibrium problem, which felt like a combination of migraine and vertigo.
Before my appointments, I tried to continue my normal routine, but it quickly became clear that this wasn't a good idea. When I finally met with the doctors, no one could give me an answer as to why this was happening. On the upside, they found no structural damage to the eyes and ruled out any new illness or disease, but I was left to my own devices.
Of course, I jumped onto Internet to get some answers, and after hours of research I concluded that STRESS was the culprit. Through a combination of ice, heat, meditation, covering my eyes, exercising, stretching, using my rowing machine, and walking I worked to alleviate the negative reaction. Seven days later, my eyesight was better.
I can't express enough the importance of being aware of any 'stress' you might be harboring, and figuring out ways to proactively resolve it. This is definitely easier said than done, but worth it so you don't find yourself unpacking it later. Just because the doctor turns you loose, this doesn’t mean you are ready to jump back into your normal activities, full steam ahead. Do all you can to recognize and mitigate’ stress’ throughout your recovery process.
The following links provide a deep dive into the mental and emotional aspects of recovery. Understanding the psychological impacts of cancer will enable you to better navigate the stress and trauma associated with cancer treatment.
A brief article from ASCO Post / American Society of Clinical Oncology with information on prostate cancer treatment, stress and coping strategies.
The City of Hope blog provides patients a succinct overview of the adverse effects of prostate cancer / treatment, as well as and avenues available to address these impacts.
Subtle Symptoms of Chronic Stress- 15 chronic stress indicators
Holistic Techniques for Stress Management and Chronic Disease
Article from Naturopathic Doctor News and Reviews (NDNR) explains stress and stress management techniques.
From the University of Minnesota, Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing, this article gives a succinct overview of:
Mindfulness & yoga
Animal-assisted & pet therapies
Traditional Chinese medicine
This YouTube guide provides a short & simple gentle yoga practice that can help relieve neck and shoulder stiffness.