• Can you share any tips to calm yourself down when feeling anxious?

    Asked by cranburymom on Monday, November 14, 2011

    Can you share any tips to calm yourself down when feeling anxious?

    Today is my pre-admission test, start to get more anxious about my surgery. I took a pill (Tylenol) as I still had a head cold - this helped a bit to fall asleep. I rather not to take any if I can.

    33 Answers from the Community

    33 answers
    • Elizabeth's Avatar

      When ever I am in pain or start becoming moody I like to distract myself with something I like to do. Cooking, Watching movies, playing games with family you love, or even going for a walk are good options.

      almost 5 years ago
    • CarolLHRN's Avatar

      It's always good to acknowledge your feelings. Keeping them bottled up is never a good idea. When I feel anxious, I take a deep breath and let the feelings just be. They usually pass after a moment or two. I also keep a journal. Sometimes just writing about your feelings and getting them out helps too.

      Exercise is great for stress and anxiety. Even just a little stroll around the block helps.

      almost 5 years ago
    • stillkickin's Avatar

      One of my favorite things to do when I feel anxious is to take a nice hot bubble bath. The hot water has me completely relaxed in no time. Also great...a good book or movie, a cup of your favorite coffee or tea, a nice cuddle with your cat or dog.

      almost 5 years ago
    • grams2jc's Avatar

      I try to stay busy, get lost in trashy novels and I admit it, I take Xanax.

      almost 5 years ago
    • abrub's Avatar

      There is a pre-surgery self-hypnosis tape from Memorial Sloan Kettering to teach you some relaxation techniques. Slow controlled breathing helps. However, let's be real and acknowledge that all of this is HUGE. There's nothing wrong with Xanax or Ativan to take the edge off. Heck, I needed Ambien most nights for almost a year.

      Do what you need to do to get through this as best you can. You will be able to drop supplemental meds when your life is a little calmer. Don't feel guilty about needing a therapist, medication, or a good cry.

      almost 5 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar

      During the day, I try to refocus my mind... Or I get moving (bike or walk or something).

      In the evening, if I'm TRYING to sleep, I'm like grams2jc - I take Xanax. I take a tiny dose because it makes me SLEEPY... which is great at night.

      This is a rough time... And there will be patches of anxiety as treatment proceeds. Right now, I have anxiety as to whether I'll get chemo tomorrow or have to jicky jack up my schedule ... So, I will probably take a xanax this evening. Sigh....

      almost 5 years ago
    • kimjx6's Avatar

      Nothing you haven't heard already but i'll share. I got some guided meditation cps to listen to to help me refocus and breathe. Also, I take xanax on a daily basis. Combined with an antidepressant it seems to help. i don't know if it's true for everyone but my doctors have no problem giving me these types of drugs. The more upset/nervous you are the worse your treatment/entire course of life is going to be. So don't be afraid to ask or at least address it with your doctor. I imagine they prescribe a lot of xanax. Good luck.

      almost 5 years ago
    • khsherwood's Avatar

      I agree with the people who take Ativan. I resisted taking anything for most of my life because I thought it showed weakness. Then a couple of years ago before I had to have yet another MRI with an IV of dye added. The person putting in the IV kept stabbing me over and over, trying to get a good vein, I lost it. I started crying uncontrollably. The nurse suggested I take an Ativan before I have a procedure involving needles. I asked my doctor for a prescription. It does help a little. I only take it before procedures. It calms me down a little. It doesn't make me high or affect my ability to drive or do anything. Ask your Doctor about it. It might help.

      Also there is a book by Peggy Huddleston, that is available in many hospitals. It is sort of a guided meditation to prepare you for surgery. There is a CD or tape that goes along with it. At our local hospital there is a nurse trained in her method who works with you on the phone guiding you through a personalized meditation to relax you and relieve your anxiety before surgery.
      I am having yet another surgery next month and need to find my book and CD to get ready. I am having a hip replacement and am scared. Good luck on your surgery, Kelly

      almost 5 years ago
    • RuthAnne's Avatar

      Two things that work for me: #1, arm yourself with information. Read, read, read, and #2, recognize all of the people who have it worse that you do and who survive and thrive and are happy. Although cancer is admittedly awful and painful and can be downright terrifying, many people every day go through those same things, many of whom are in seriously dire straights in the other areas of their lives. Put it in perspective. If they can do it, so can you.

      almost 5 years ago
    • SunnyCloud's Avatar

      You should always consult with your doctor before taking ANY medication. Ativan did nothing for me. Perhaps the dosage was too low. The only thing that got me through the scary times was talking to God and reminding myself that if I lost it, it would be much worse.

      almost 5 years ago
    • KarenG_WN's Avatar

      One thing I learned is to use my breath. For example, when you get anxious and take short breaths, it can make you feel like you are hyperventilating. If you take deep breaths from your diaphragm, that can help. To know if you are doing this right, put one hand on your belly and one above your chest and breathe. You want to see your hand on your belly move, not the the one above your chest.

      Yoga is another tool I use when I get anxious. If you belong to a gym, see if it offers a yoga class. There are plenty of yoga studios, as well as yoga DVDs and BluRays. Here's a link to some yoga DVDs from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Highest-Rated-Yoga-DVDs/lm/RM49DUFBAXNR2.

      Of course, check with your doctor before you start a new exercise routine.

      almost 5 years ago
    • cranburymom's Avatar

      tears and cheers for those who responded to my questions. I will print out this threads for me. I will keep this in my cancer journal. I took Tylenol last nite as I could not fall asleep. I felt pain in my breast, and then all the nonsense filled up my head. Tried to shake it by watchin Golden Girls, or house hunting shows, but in vein. Then, more thoughts came up - my upcoming craft show and my daily obligations - yes all garbages. My pre-admission went fine - the nurse went through all the preexisting conditions (and the same questions over and over) - "so...you just have a breast cancer", she said. I see, this is a just one disease, one statistic, never mind how scared I am now (you obviously did not ask me that).
      Sorry! many folks here could be much worse - and more advanced. And thank YOU for listening - this is my only place I feel safe to share my darkest moment.
      PS once I make a clean list, I will share with you all.

      almost 5 years ago
    • Elizabeth's Avatar

      You don't have to apologize for being scared. Cancer no matter what stage or what type can be scary. I am glad that you found a place where you can talk to people while feeling comfortable and safe.

      almost 5 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      I grew up in the business world getting a positive attitude shoved down my throat, then I was diagnosed. The positive attitude was a great help, and still is today. My approach from the beginning 23 years ago has always been not "ohh noooo!!! what am I going to do!!!??" But rather, "OK, let's do this" and when do we start. As far as controlling your mind and mood it's hard. Try to keep your mind off what you don't want, and on what you do want. As far as night time, when I get in a rut and my mind is racing, and I wake up, can't go back to sleep, I take a tylenol pm, watch tv, and in an hour or so I am under again. Good luck to you, and remember there are a lot of us out here that are with you in spirit. Ask if you have questions.

      almost 5 years ago
    • RuthAnne's Avatar

      Ugh. Night-time cancer terror is the worst! Most of the crying and "what if-ing" I've done has been when I'm awake at night because I can't sleep.

      I wish you peace in those moments. :)

      almost 5 years ago
    • car092360's Avatar

      I find the more I know, the less anxious I feel. I'm an internet junkie so the first thing I do when I need to know something is Google it - yes I'm a Googleholic. I'm having a mastectomy in about a month and this frightens me to no end because I've never had surgery and certainly never had anything taken from my body - not counting my son and he was a natural birth but I was ready to get him out! :) But the fear of the surgery was causing me panic attacks and I would get a sick feeling in my stomach every time I thought of it. So after I could stomach some information I started researching how other women dealt with the surgery, the complications, the reconstruction, the recovery, etc. and talking about my decisions to XXX near anyone who would listen. This site has helped me tremendously also. I also take Ativan to sleep at night because I still wake up every 2 hours and once my brain is awake, the surgery is all I think about. The Ativan helps me not to wake up as much.

      almost 5 years ago
    • pugmom's Avatar

      Those feelings of anxiety and doom are the worst! I am one year out of treatment, so the anxiety has decreased dramatically, except when I have an oncology appointment. It is normal to have these triggers. Let's face it, we are dealing with a life threatening illness, and there are many unknowns. I am trying to find my way through accepting all this, but I have been depressed and now there is some anger coming through all the sadness. So, to deal with it all, I am trying to swim a few days a week, and I volunteer at the Humane Society. When I am home and it hits, I grab one of my loving pugs and just hold them close and try to connect with the love I feel for them, and vice versa. This is all a bit overwhelming, and I think it takes a long time to navigate our way to a deeper level of peace with it all.

      over 4 years ago
    • 1lovinglife's Avatar

      Try to take things one day or hour at a time. If you are overwhelmed, call a friend, get out of the house. Watch a comedy. Your Doc can give you Ativan. It works fast. It helps to get you over the hump. Most of all, talk to family and friends. Tell them how you feel and let them help.

      over 4 years ago
    • Lirasgirl33's Avatar

      Music has been a great source of therapy for me. I make happy positive song playlists for during the day. For night time I make a sleepy time mix. I originally made one for my kids a few years back and it always works. Some great songs for night time came from Linda Ronstadt Dedicated to the one I Love album. Also from Enya's greatest, Jack Johnson and Norah Jones too. Pandora also has a great Relaxation Music station. I then pray to God to help clear my head, I remind myself that God is in control and ask him to help me get a good night's rest. It never fails. :)

      over 4 years ago
    • Terri's Avatar

      Take a walk, if you can. I try to do something to distract myself. I also take antianxiety medication.

      about 4 years ago
    • Amritbp's Avatar

      My general method to calm myself down when ii amm in extreme distress is as follows: 1.immediately while focosing (concentrating) on breathing, feel your heartbeat and start counting 1to20 with its each beats.syart from when u exhale.during the process let the inhale-exhale go normally without breathing heavily or taking long breath. Observe anything around you closely.if u r infront of a wall try finding any faults with its geometry,or any spots on painting or any scratches if visible,on ground observe grasses,focosing on small area the various colors or height and shift focus to other area near it slowly.

      about 4 years ago
    • GailN's Avatar

      Focusing on the belly during diaphragmatic breathing and relaxing the facial muscles can be done anywhere! You can keep yourself calm and present when you learn this yogic practice. It works!

      about 4 years ago
    • Lauracg's Avatar

      Every now and then I still (12 years past treatment) get frightened that I am going to die from cancer. Not as often as at first but it still happens. I take a couple of deep breaths, focus, try to focus again, focus and say to myself. Okay, something is going to kill me anyway - BUT NOT TODAY. All any of us have is today.

      about 4 years ago
    • SandiD's Avatar

      I start counting my blessings when I feel anxious. It really is easy to focus on the negative! Of course we feel anxious sometimes if we have cancer! But I have good doctors, supportive family and friends, a comfy bed, a sweet bulldog, a great TV.....etc..... I think it also helps to think if the millions of people who beat cancer every day. I have survived 2 cancers now (colon & breast). There are a lot of us Survivors out there! One more blessing to be thankful for. Good luck to all of you.

      about 4 years ago
    • Dani's Avatar

      Honestly what helps me is doing something artistic or counting and breathing. When I do something with art I like to paint, draw, write about my life, make pictures out of my favorite quotes, stuff like that to take my mind off of everything around me. Also I like to do my breathing exercises. I start by breathing in my nose and out my mouth counting to 20 each time, It really does seem to help, as stupid as it sounds. If there is anything else I can help you with please let me know. Xoxo Dani

      about 4 years ago
    • cinnamonsmile's Avatar

      One of my occupational therapists in 2011, was into yoga and kind of a hippey like person. She taught me to belly breathe. I used to use that a lot. Concentrate on inhaling using the belly, then exhale, doing each slowly.

      about 4 years ago
    • ilovecats' Avatar

      I found that taking it one day at a time helped me. Try not to think of all the treatments together but be enthused each time you get something over with- you are one step closer to the end of treatment.

      about 4 years ago
    • DeeHenn's Avatar

      Bubble baths, funny movies, laughing children and Xanax. :)

      about 4 years ago
    • Wolfsuky's Avatar

      I found that I couldn't concentrate on anything, not even the things I like to do. Even so, tried to continue working, and keeping my life as normal as possible. Having someone around to help distract yourself from your worries was helpful. I realized that I became most anxious/depressed when I was by myself. The Xanax and antidepressants were a huge help, especially at night. Soft music/ droning radio to keep yourself from thinking/worrying while trying to get to sleep was helpful too.

      about 4 years ago
    • ruthieq's Avatar

      May sound hokey, but meditation may help. The idea is to take yourself away from the stressors and relax in a comfortable safe place. I also listen to music on my ipod or in my bedroom with the doors closed. If you have a family, ask if your hubby or friend can take the kids for awhile and just take some time for yourself. As for surgery it's perfectly normal to be anxious. The surgical staff will keep you safe and they also will give you something pre-operatively if you need it. You will do well, I wish for you healing thoughts and prayers!

      about 4 years ago
    • NETcaregiver's Avatar

      without making a sound, I scream my head off. I could be in a waiting room, getting results from Doc, anywhere. the primal scream brings me back to focus & the tears can be controlled.


      about 4 years ago
    • CAL's Avatar

      No tips--more questions. I have been highly anxious and irritated, feeling like the doctors only look at the medical and if I really want help with the alternative therapies like yoga, relaxation, herbal, counseling, etc. I have to pay more money because nothing is covered by our major medical plan (actually half of our bills so far are not covered and even seeing the social worker costs money). I do listen to books on CD, sew when I can, walk every day, talk with friends, pray and meditate, journal a bit--more ranting to my email support group who pray for me daily, but sleep has been very illusive for 3 months. I don't like taking more drugs given that in the last three months I've taken more drugs than I have taken in my entire 61 years, but I don't know safe herbal therapies for sleep that might not interfere with the chemo effects. I don't know that anything does interfere, I just don't know and all the medical providers can suggest are more drugs. Even though I have access to wonderful organic produce because my husband grows it for a living, my comfort foods are not that great for health, so I have cut back and almost eliminated those sorts of unhealthy comfort foods that are the ban of my existence and probably contributed the fact that I have cancer. This week was hard with having started chemo and all the confusing symptoms so sadly my response was to revert back to the unhealthy comfort foods. It was only one day--Halloween, and I think I'm back on track now, but I can tell that I am on the edge all the time and sleep remains illusive.

      almost 4 years ago
    • baridirects' Avatar

      I would like to highly recommend Zentangle as a therapy modality. If I had to give a simplistic explanation of what it is, I would say it's doodling on steroids...but you certainly don't have to be a trained artist to succeed, nor are the basic tools expensive. There are lots of books and other materials out there to get you started.

      I love to tangle - at home, I put on some soft music, akin to what you hear at spas, and draw to my heart's content. It truly quiets my mind, and at the end, I have a very personal piece of artwork that I can keep or gift to someone, just as my spirit moves me. I have a little kit put together in a plastic pencil box to take with me...I worked on a lovely one during my chemotherapy treatment today.

      Give it a look!


      over 3 years ago

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