A toolbox with a hammer, wrench, reed diffuser, and headphones sticking out

My Toolbox for Managing Stress

Last updated: April 2023

Numerous stressors are faced by a cancer survivor. Add to that family discord and the result can be disastrous. I experienced this first hand when that combination factored into my hospitalization after receiving my first chemotherapy treatment. I had to learn to better cope with everything happening in my life.

I found that the biggest cause of stress was rooted in my own thoughts, feelings, and actions. I recognized that I was not responding well to changes in my life, was overworked, and fatigued. While I had taught stress management as a course, I clearly did not follow my own advice.

Stress relief strategies

We often cannot control external changes and circumstances life brings. We can reduce stress by learning to modify our inner response to life’s changes. I decided to try a healthy lifestyle and implement the following stress relief strategies.

Breath slowly and gently

I recognized that when under stress I became tense with shallow breathing. Now, I try to take slow, gentle breaths, which I find very calming.

Practice prayer and meditation

Set aside a quiet time. Think about what is right in your life. This gives a renewed sense of clarity, purpose, and peace.

Balance work and play

Allow time to do things that you enjoy. I treated myself to reflexology sessions, which I find relaxing and later learned that it may improve my immune system.

Just move

While I am not an exercise enthusiast, I found that time spent at the gym, walking with a friend or just simple exercises, helped relieve stress and helped me relax.

Use aromatherapy

This ancient pure route is a natural stress reliever. Aromas are said to register directly into the emotional center of the brain. I use a diffuser at night, which promotes restful sleep.

Stress relief massage

This soothing tactile relief can soothe and reduce stress as the mind and body are connected. Check with your doctor if any areas of the body should be avoided during massage therapy.


Share jokes and remember to laugh.

Listen to your favorite music

I find classical music to be filled with gratitude and peace and most relaxing.

Nurture kind, compassionate, loving relationships

Surround yourself with positive people. I have learned that we cannot change others, we can only change how we respond.

Make a plan

It is important to develop a stress management plan. While I do not complete each of these every day, they are the components of my toolbox that have helped me deal more effectively with stress. It is my hope that my fellow cancer survivors may find these helpful. It would be interesting to hear other strategies that have been found effective in reducing stress.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Blood-Cancer.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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