As our global society faces COVID-19, the world has found itself in an unprecedented time of uncertainty. The health crisis that we have on our hands now and the undetermined economic and social changes that will follow have deservedly aroused fear in many. However, while fear is a natural response and serves its own purpose in short-term survival, bombarding ourselves with fear day after day can have detrimental effects on our health — especially if we are already warding off sickness.
In fact, research shows that prolonged stress is associated with: “a weakened immune system, increased cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, decreased fertility, impaired formation of long-term memories, and damage to certain parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus.” (1) For cancer patients, this can mean that critical treatments will be significantly less effective since your body is in fight-or-flight mode and requires more energy to function.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your fear response and get back to an emotionally healthy state. Hope4Cancer Founder and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Jimenez and BEST (Behavioral Emotional Spiritual Therapy) practitioner and pediatrician Dr. Leslie Gomez recently sat down to discuss the importance of staying emotionally healthy during these times of uncertainty and crisis. Check out some of their top suggestions for managing fear and watch the video below to learn more.
#1: Engage your logic brain
Since fear is a response that stems from the emotional side of your brain, one way to effectively reduce your fear response is to bring logic back into the equation. To do this, Dr. Leslie recommends following reliable media and conducting an appropriate amount of research on the topic that arouses fear. The key here is balance — overwhelming yourself with statistics can lead to overanalyzing and perpetuate fear. Limit your intake and be sure to leave space for joy in your daily life.
#2: Consult your spirituality
Studies have shown, “spiritual well-being [is] related to the ability to enjoy life even in the midst of symptoms.” (2) Whether you prefer to meditate, pray, fast, or have another means of spiritual practice, engaging in spiritual activity is another way to consciously reduce our fear response. For many cancer patients, spirituality is an act of surrendering to the parts of life we cannot control. By trusting in our belief systems that there is a higher purpose at play, we can find comfort and healing, and can even manage pain or stress more effectively.
#3: Ground in the present
Often times, when we are faced with uncertainty, we are actually stressing about a future unknown outcome. Rather than worry about what has not happened yet, Dr. Leslie recommends grounding in the present moment by repeating the mantra: “I am here, I am now, I am alive.” This shift in our perspective can retrain our brains to see the beauty and opportunity in our immediate surroundings, instead of the potential negatives that might occur.
For more information, please watch the video above, or check out Dr. Tony’s resourceful article, “Finding Hope in the Age of the Coronavirus: An Integrative Physician’s View” by clicking here: https://hope4cancer.com/blog/coronavirus-an-integrative-physicians-view/
If you or a loved one is facing a cancer diagnosis during this delicate time, we want you to know that we are here for you. Find the latest information on our treatment centers’ hours and availability by clicking here: https://hope4cancer.com/blog/covid-19-response/
1 — Ropeik, David. “The consequences of fear.” EMBO reports vol. 5 Spec No,Suppl 1 (2004): S56-60. doi:10.1038/sj.embor.7400228
2 — Puchalski, C M. “The role of spirituality in health care.” Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center) vol. 14,4 (2001): 352-7. doi:10.1080/08998280.2001.11927788