April is Stress Awareness Month: Decompress at Bay Area Cancer Connections

Got stress? Most of us do. And stress can be brutal—changing the way you eat, sleep, and interact with friends and loved ones. It can even affect the way you feel about yourself and your own performance as an employee, spouse, friend, or parent. Our goal at Bay Area Cancer Connections is to offer you support in dealing with the stresses that can crop up both during and after your cancer diagnosis and treatment.

So during this Stress Awareness Month, I want to draw your attention to three programs Bay Area Cancer Connections offers to support you in dealing with your stress, and to suggest some library resources we have on hand that can enrich your experience in these programs.

Yoga

“If you can breathe, you can do yoga.” —Kelly McGonigal

The term “yoga” is broad. There are many types of yoga which can be anything from meditative breath control (as in Pranayama), to the basic poses or postures such as “tree,” “plank,” or “downward dog” of Hatha or Iyengar.  Yoga is one of the most-used complementary health approaches for adults in the United States, and its potential health benefits are the subject of ongoing studies funded by the National Institutes of Health. “Cautious optimism” is the watchword for those wanting to rely on yoga as a means of building bone after osteoporosis. We can help you find information on classes for bone strengthening if this is something you and your doctor think is a good idea.

At Bay Area Cancer Connections we offer free individual yoga sessions or group classes.  The practices taught in these sessions may help you deepen your breath and body awareness, relieve fatigue and sleeplessness, reduce anxiety, moderate pain, and increase circulation, lymphatic drainage, and energy levels. We ask that you talk to your doctor before joining our exercise programs.

Library Resources

Bay Area Cancer Connections library offers flyers and listings of other yoga programs for cancer patients in the San Francisco Bay Area, plus books and DVDs to help support your yoga practice:

Yoga for Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Calm Your Mind & Heal Your Chronic Pain, by Kelly McGonigal

Yoga for Osteoporosis: The Complete Guide, by Loren Fishman

Yoga for Breast Cancer (DVD), by Denise Hopkins

Yoga Classes

  • Yoga for Healing & Recovery at Bay Area Cancer Connections
    Mondays, 8:30-9:30 a.m.
    Learn More
  • Individual Yoga at Bay Area Cancer Connections
    Mondays, 9:45 a.m. (60-minute appointment)
    Learn More

Mindfulness Meditation & Healing & Guided Imagery

“Mindfulness refers to being intentionally aware—that is, paying attention.” —Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery, by Linda Carlson & Michael Speca

“Although you can’t always control or eliminate stressors, you can engage with them differently.” —Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, by Bob Stahl & Elisha Goldstein

“Guided imagery meditation is a gentle but powerful technique that focuses and directs the imagination in proactive, positive ways.” —Staying Well With Guided Imagery, by Belleruth Naparstek

Mindfulness meditation is the practice of focusing awareness on the present moment, the practice of being present. The Mindfulness Meditation program at Bay Area Cancer Connections can help you learn how to practice this type of meditation, and it’s a drop-in program. You are welcome to attend whether you have practiced meditation before or not, and decide if it is for you. In this class, you will learn to respond to stress with mindful, nonjudgmental awareness of your body and mind, instead of with irritability or self-criticism. The techniques you will learn aim to offer support in alleviating stress and anxiety.

Healing and Guided Imagery at Bay Area Cancer Connections is another type of meditation, and these sessions are drop-in as well. The facilitator will guide you through deep relaxation techniques for mind and body, helping you to tap into your own healing powers and lower your stress level.

Library Resources

If you are interested in going deeper, or in trying out some resources on your own, please visit our library and check out a few of the following items:

Healing & Guided Imagery CD audio recordings

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, by Bob Stahl & Elisha Goldstein
This book includes a CD with 21 guided meditations to lead you through Mindful Breathing, Body Scan Meditation, Sitting Meditation, and others. This book is written to accompany the traditional eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program pioneered by Jon Kabat Zinn in the 1980s.

Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery: A Step-by-Step MBSR Approach to Help You Cope with Treatment & Reclaim Your Life, by Linda Carlson & Michael Speca 
The authors have adapted the eight-week MBSR curriculum to recovery from cancer treatment, addressing such topics as pain, fear, and fatigue.

Guided Imagery: Stress, CD by Belleruth Naparstek

Programs

  • Mindfulness Meditation at Bay Area Cancer Connections
    Second & fourth Wednesdays, 5:00-6:15 p.m.
    Learn More
  • Healing & Guided Imagery at Bay Area Cancer Connections
    First & third Wednesdays, 5:30-7:00 p.m.
    Learn More

Tai Chi

Tai chi is a meditative form of movement that combines deep breathing and slow movements. It is designed to be practiced in a non-competitive and gentle way. Tai chi can also be a challenging, strength-building practice that can help develop your aerobic capacity. The National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health has reported on studies of tai chi for wellness, and you are welcome to try out the practice at Bay Area Cancer Connections.

Library Resources

To learn more about tai chi, you’re welcome to checkout this book in our library:

Woman’s Qigong for Health & Longevity, by Deborah Davis 

Programs

  • Tai Chi at Bay Area Cancer Connections
    First & Third Thursdays, 12:00-1:00 p.m. 
    Learn More