How Might Relaxation Techniques Help Me If I'm Undergoing Cancer Treatment And When Should I Do Them?

Barrie Cassileth, Ph.D, Sloan

Question: How might relaxation techniques help me if I'm undergoing cancer treatment and when should I do them?

Answer:Mind-body therapies can be very useful under many circumstances, under many difficult circumstances associated with receiving cancer treatment or before receiving it because of the stress. Mind-body therapies include a range of interventions that are dealt with by teaching people to do something to help their minds and their bodies get through this very difficult time -- for example, relaxation techniques, progressive relaxation, imagery, meditation, or a deeper form of meditation which is self-hypnosis. We teach self-hypnosis to patients, and they can use this as a tool to take out of their pockets, so to speak, and apply when they're about to go through a very difficult situation such as prior to surgery, or if they're waiting for an important test or if they can't fall asleep at night. It is a very handy tool to bear in mind.

I think that all patients -- men, women, even children of all ages -- can benefit from mind-body therapies. What I especially like about them is the fact that patients can learn them themselves and then apply them, which gives people a really large degree of control over many difficult procedures and circumstances.