April 17, 2023 – Self-Care Strategies for Coping With Scanxiety During Cancer Treatment

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Being diagnosed with stomach cancer can be overwhelming. The thought of undergoing tests and medical scans can add more stress and worry, leading to scanxiety. Patients can manage this with self-care techniques like practicing mindfulness, engaging in physical activities, staying connected with loved ones, and seeking emotional support. 

It’s crucial to communicate with healthcare professionals, prioritize health, and be kind to oneself during this difficult time.

What Is Scanxiety?

Scanxiety is the fear and apprehension cancer patients can feel surrounding medical scans. Scans like X-rays are essential for detecting bone abnormalities and other significant changes in important organs caused by cancer.

What Causes Scanxiety?

The anticipation before getting a scan, undergoing the scan itself, and the unpredictability of what the scan might reveal can create a wave of anxiety and uncertainty in patients. Various factors, such as unpleasant past scan experiences, anxiety about cancer growth or recurrence, unpredictability about the future, and treatment plan effects, can cause scanxiety.

Managing scanxiety is crucial for cancer patients, as excessive anxiety levels can affect treatment results and quality of life. Increased heart rate, sweating, difficulty sleeping, irritability, and panic attacks are common symptoms of scanxiety.

The good news is that there are many mental health and wellness resources and self-care techniques that can help patients cope with scanxiety. Being open with healthcare professionals about any doubts or concerns regarding the scan or treatment plan is essential. 

Don’t let scanxiety take over your life – take control with these helpful self-care techniques.

10 Self-Care Strategies for Coping With Scanxiety During Cancer Treatment

Taking control of your scanxiety is about prioritizing your well-being and maintaining healthy habits. This section will discuss ten self-care strategies to help alleviate anxiety and improve overall well-being.

1. Fuel Your Body: The Power of a Nutrient-Rich Diet

Consuming a nutrient-rich, low-sodium diet, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats, is essential. Ensure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding caffeine and alcohol, which can increase anxiety and disrupt sleep.

2. Get Moving: The Importance of Exercise for Physical and Mental Health

Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining physical and mental health. Exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep quality, and boost mood. Engaging in physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, such as walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming, is recommended. 

3. Sleep Away the Stress: Tips to Improve Your Sleep for Better Coping

Getting enough sleep is vital for managing scanxiety. Sleep is a time when the body and mind can repair and recharge. Try to get at least 7–8 hours of sleep each night.

Strategies to improve sleep include:

  • Establishing a regular sleep schedule.
  • Avoiding electronics before bedtime.
  • Creating a relaxing sleep environment.

4. Connect With Your Mind and Body: How Yoga Can Ease Scanxiety During Cancer Treatment

Adding yoga to your daily routine can be a powerful way to deal with stress, get better sleep, and improve overall health. By practicing yoga, you can learn how to connect your mind, body, and breath, creating a sense of calm and inner peace. 

It can also help relieve side effects of cancer treatment, like fatigue, pain, and surgery recovery. Whether you attend a yoga class or practice at home, making time for yoga can help you feel more grounded and centered.

5. Master Your Mind: Find Inner Peace With Meditation

Meditation is a simple technique that focuses the mind on a specific object, thought, or activity. It can help reduce anxiety, improve mood, and enhance self-awareness. Meditating allows you to observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them. 

Whether you’re new to meditation or have been practicing for years, finding a quiet space to sit, breathe, and focus your mind can be a powerful tool for managing scanxiety. It can also help you feel more in control of your stomach cancer journey and connect with your inner strength.

6. A Hands-On Approach to Wellness: The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Overall Well-Being

Massage therapy can help you overcome scanxiety by providing a sense of comfort and relaxation. A massage therapist’s nurturing touch can help promote well-being and improve emotional balance. It can also help enhance the quality of sleep, which is essential for maintaining overall health and managing stress levels.

7. Positive Reinforcement: Using a Post-Scan Reward as a Coping Strategy

Planning a post-scan reward can give you something to look forward to after the scan. It can be a small or significant reward, such as going to your favorite restaurant or treating yourself to a spa day. Having something to look forward to can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of positivity.

8. Empowering Through Connection: The Importance of Cancer Support Groups 

Joining a support group can help you fight scanxiety by providing a safe and supportive environment. It can help reduce feelings of isolation, improve coping skills, and provide emotional support.

Debbie’s Dream Foundation offers a stomach cancer support community for patients, loved ones, and caregivers. It is a supportive and inspiring community to discuss gastric cancer, gastrectomy, treatments, genetic testing, clinical trials, and more.

9. Be Kind to Yourself: Managing Anxiety With Self-Compassion

Practicing self-compassion involves treating yourself with kindness and understanding, especially during difficult times. Patients may feel angry or disappointed with themselves for feeling anxious or stressed. It’s important to acknowledge that these feelings are normal and valid. Self-compassion can help reduce the negative self-talk that often accompanies anxiety.

10. The Power of Talk: Why Speaking to a Therapist Can Help With Scanxiety

Speaking with a therapist or counselor can be life-changing. Therapists provide a safe space to speak openly about anything troubling you and offer evidence-based techniques and guidance. They can help you develop healthy coping strategies, positive thinking, and motivation and achieve goals.

Prioritize Self-Care for a Happier and Healthier You

Scanxiety can be a tough journey for cancer patients, but it is possible to manage it with the right strategies and psychosocial care. Self-care is crucial during your stomach cancer treatment. By maintaining a healthy routine, practicing mindfulness, staying positive, and seeking support, you can alleviate your anxiety and improve your quality of life.