“Mindfulness is a good resource for dealing with the physical and psychological symptoms of metastatic disease,” Zimmaro shares. “Women who were more mindful tended to have lower symptoms of metastatic breast cancer, including pain severity and interference, fatigue, psychological distress, and sleep disturbance.”
Mindfulness exercises to try
If you feel overwhelmed by the emotions of having metastatic breast cancer, mindfulness can help you take a step back from those intense feelings. Here are some tips to get you started:
When practicing observe mindfulness, remember to allow your immediate experience to just happen. Do not try to push it away or try to change it.
- Listen to the sounds around you, noticing what you hear without adding any commentary.
- Watch your breath. Observe the sensation of inhaling and exhaling. Notice your belly rising and falling as you breathe.
- Sit outside on a bench and watch what passes in front of your direct line of sight, without turning your head or labeling what you see.
When practicing describe mindfulness, remember to describe what you observe by just sticking to the facts. Do not add your own interpretations or assumptions.
For example: Feeling like you are unlovable or a burden because you have metastatic breast cancer.
The facts in this example is that you have metastatic breast cancer – that’s it.
Describing the facts only, helps you refrain from jumping to the conclusions that make you feel bad about yourself or your relationships.
RELATED: Introducing Mindfulness in Your Life
Acting with awareness
Much like with describe mindfulness, when we judge something, they are not facts. For example, if we say something is ugly, that is a preference not a fact. By becoming aware of your judgmental thinking, you will reduce emotional reactivity. Before you pass judgement, remember to:
- Focus on your language: During stress and crisis it may be more difficult to remain non-judmental. Try identifying judmental words and phrases that trigger you to stop and observe your thinking. Common judmental words include: right, wrong, fair, unfair, should, shouldn’t, stupid, lazy, wonderful, perfect, bad, and terrible.
- Identify your common self judgments. (Im bad, stupid, lazy, weak, not worth it etc.).
- Turn your self judgment into a nonjudgmental descriptive statement.
- Focus on your breathing. Breathing enables us to get in touch with the present moment and let go of all the thoughts and judgments about the past and future.
- Notice your thoughts. Learning to think non-judgmentally takes practice. By paying attention to your thoughts, you’ll be able to notice when those judmental thoughts occur.