Coping With Emotions

Healthy Ways to Express Anger During Cancer Treatment

A cancer diagnosis brings anger and frustration, along with other complicated feelings. Figuring out some healthy ways to express anger can make treatment more tolerable.

The shock of a cancer diagnosis can make the most even keel person angry. While this is a natural emotion, holding onto it is a burden, especially when dealing with cancer. There are healthy ways to express anger so your cancer battle isn’t derailed by it.

Why It’s Important to Let Go

The first step in dealing with anger is to acknowledge it and set a plan to let it go. Don’t let it eat at your soul. Stress and anger fuel each other. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) states, “Distress has become increasingly recognized as a factor that can reduce the quality of life of cancer patients.” And, although studies focused on stress and cancer aren’t absolute, they do demonstrate how the stress of cancer can lead to bad habits, like smoking and self-medicating, according to the NCI. Additionally, unresolved anger can lead to cardiovascular issues, so says the American Psychological Association.

Even if you know outrage is unhealthy, that doesn’t make it easy to manage. Sometimes it consumes you and makes going through with your daily life and cancer treatment difficult. Finding ways to process and release it can help you get through this challenging time and head towards a healthy future.

Start With the Basics

Communication is essential. Whether it’s with your loved one, best friend, oncologist, neighbor or just a piece of paper, get it off your chest. Releasing anger will unburden you and allow you to preserve energy. Exercise is a key element to this expression. Swimming, bicycling or even a walk along a nature trail or beach can be fueled by anger, effectively eliminating it. Endorphins, the feel-good chemicals released by your brain when you exercise, can help alleviate what’s bothering you, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Think About Your Hobbies

Personal interests are always a good source for relieving anger. With anything from studying a new language to learning a musical instrument, use the strong feeling associated with anger to motivate you to higher achievements in your hobbies. This is an easy way to bring joy and comfort to your current situation.

Creative endeavors are another way to kick anger to the curb (and may be beneficial to cancer patients, according to the American Cancer Society). Pick up that brush to create a painting. Start a woodworking project. Sculpt clay, as working with clay mimics squeezing a stress ball. The end results are astonishing — you have released your feelings and have a new piece of art to marvel!

Lean on Your Furry Friends

Another successful method for cancer patients is pet therapy. Also known as animal-assisted therapy, clinical trials indicate cancer patients find animals therapeutic, resulting in an increased emotional state. A 2016 University of Lincoln study produced groundbreaking results, indicating dogs can sense human emotions. So, if your canine is trying to cuddle with you while you feel irate, he senses your furious state and is trying to provide you some relief.

Kindness is always one of the best ways to change aggravation into something positive. Extend kindness to another, do a good deed and pay it forward. Sign up to clean up a local park or volunteer your time at your child’s school. Doing something selfless or helping people less fortunate is an instant mood booster.

Clinical evidence shows how anger can negatively affect you as a cancer patient, regardless of how upsetting your diagnosis is. Focus on helping yourself and others and accentuate the positive. Gravitate towards actions and people that make you happy in your time of need.

Anger is a natural emotion to experience after a cancer diagnosis. If your feelings become overwhelming, counseling can help.

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Stephen Owsinski
Stephen Owsinski