Your action plan to tame stress

Published: 7/25/17

Coping with stress

Many young adult survivors experience stress and worry as a result of their childhood cancer diagnosis, treatment, and side effects. For some, this type of stress can be severe and impact their sense of well-being. The effects of stress can build up over time, so taking steps to cope with "survivor stress" can help reduce or prevent stress-related physical and emotional problems.

Whatever your level of stress, it’s important to be aware of when you’re experiencing stress and to have a plan to cope with it. Here are some tips that may help.

Recognize signs of your body's response to stress, such as: 

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased alcohol and other substance use
  • Being easily angered
  • Feeling overwhelmed or out of control
  • Feeling depressed and/or overly anxious
  • Having low energy

Seek help from a qualified mental health care provider if you are overwhelmed, feel you cannot cope, have suicidal thoughts, or are using drugs or alcohol to cope.

Other sources of support include:

  • A support group where you can share your thoughts and feelings. Your group might include friends, family members, fellow survivors, or people from your church, school, or other organization you belong to.  Remember the old saying: “A problem shared is a problem halved.”
  • Online support groups. For a list of online cancer and survivorship focused support groups check out the Association of Cancer Online Resources at www.acor.org.

Stress is an inevitable part of life, but there are ways to control it. Other things you can try include:

  • Exercise regularly. Just 30 minutes per day of gentle walking can help boost mood and reduce stress.
  • Schedule regular times for healthy and relaxing activities that you enjoy doing, alone or with others.
  • Explore stress coping programs, which may include meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other gentle exercises. Your oncologist or primary care provider may be able to put you in touch with a program that’s right for you.

Keep stress from controlling you. Make a plan, and don’t go it alone!