Posted 3 years ago

Reduce Your Anxiety through Daily Relaxation Practices

Almost everyone, at some point in his or her life, has experienced anxiety, fear, or worry.  For some individuals who are facing a cancer diagnosis or living in survivorship, anxiety can become much more frequent. Anxiety is one of your body’s responses to fear or stress. These feelings can be very difficult to control at times, sometimes resulting in panic attacks or impairing your ability to function on a daily basis.


Feelings of nervousness or tension

Restless body and mind

Fear for impending dangers or negativity

Sweating, trembling, rapid breathing, and increased heart rate

Trouble concentrating or focusing

Poor sleep patterns

Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems


Anxiety can be treated and we would like to share some activities that you can do at home to reduce mild symptoms of anxiety. We always suggest that you discuss concerns and symptoms with your physician.

A great first step is to practice daily relaxation and self-care. If you do not do so already, set a goal for at least 15 minutes of relaxation activities each day. Once you get used to this timeframe, you may consider increasing to 30 minutes or even an hour as needed.  Small steps and making yourself a priority are very important on your wellness journey.


Relaxation therapy at home may include:

Breath-focus – In this simple, powerful technique, you take long, slow, deep breaths (also known as abdominal or belly breathing). As you breathe, focus on gently disengaging your mind from distracting thoughts and sensations

Guided imagery – For this technique, you conjure up soothing scenes, places, or experiences in your mind to help you relax and focus. 

Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong – These ancient arts combine rhythmic breathing with a series of postures and flowing movements. The physical aspects of these practices offer a mental focus that can help distract you from racing thoughts. They can also enhance your flexibility and balance

Mindfulness meditation – This practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and bringing your mind’s attention to the present moment without drifting into concerns about the past or the future

REDUCE YOUR ANXIETY THROUGH DAILY RELAXATION PRACTICESThere are numerous videos and apps that you can download to assist you with these practices. Ironwood has a robust content library on our YouTube channel including Tai Chi, Yoga, and meditation videos to support you in relaxation.

Tactile activities engage your sensory systems in a positive way. Using your hands and mind at the same time can reduce symptoms of anxiety including tension, restlessness, and your ability to focus. Here are few suggestions:

Coin Sorting – Take a bowl full of mixed coins. Separate the coins, one by one, into different empty bowls according to type.

REDUCE YOUR ANXIETY THROUGH DAILY RELAXATION PRACTICESBubble Wrap – Grab a piece of bubble wrap and pop each of the bubbles individually. There is something soothing about the piecework involved in this activity.

PlayDoh or putty balls – This material is great for allowing you to stretch, pull and roll. The motion allows stress reduction. We do suggest that you do not share your dough ball with others for sanitary purposes.

Petting an animal – A research study from Washington State University showed that participants experiencing stress and anxiety that spent 10-15 minutes petting a dog or cat had lowered heart rates, improved moods, and reduction of cortisol, the stress hormone.

If you would like more information about reducing your anxiety and starting your path to wellness, contact our staff in Ironwood’s Supportive Care Services Department by calling 480-314-6660 or emailing us at

About Nicole McCallister, LMSW

Nicole McCallister

Nicole McCallister

Nicole McCallister is a Licensed Master Social Worker.  Nicole received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State University in August 2017.  She received her Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Studies in April 2003 from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI.

About Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers

Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers (ICRC) is the largest multi-specialty oncology network in the Greater Metro Phoenix area. They have over 100 medical providers, a robust Integrative Services program, and a dedicated clinical research department. Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers has 15 valley locations and five comprehensive cancer care centers that offer a multi-disciplinary approach for expedited personalized patient care. For more information, please visit