May 12, 2015 10:00 AM

Author: Cancer Learning Center

For many people, emotions can be scary and painful, especially when dealing with cancer. Part of the problem is that you don’t know what to do with them when you feel them and often don’t want to appear weak or negative to your loved ones. The truth is that emotions are valuable. You can learn a lot about yourself and your needs when you acknowledge them.

When people don’t know how to manage their emotions, they turn to the only strategies they do know—things like television, drinking, shopping, or eating. Using these tools sometimes is okay, but turning to them too often can lead to problems.

So what can you do? The first step is to figure out what you’re feeling. Are you anxious, sad, angry, or scared? Once you’ve identified the emotion and its message, take action. Ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to solve the situation causing the emotion. If there is, consider what you can do to change it. If there’s nothing you can do, determine how you can cope with the emotion. Some coping ideas are meditating, getting social support, writing, exercising, being in nature, or seeking therapy. The strategies that work best vary with each person, so try different things and find what works best for you.

Emotions can feel confusing, uncomfortable, or threatening at times, but they can also be useful. Experiencing your emotions helps your mind process information and even discover hope. The goal is not to push away difficult emotions or dwell in them. Instead, the goal is to allow them to pass through you, like a river, and to shape the grand canyons of your soul.

—Huntsman Cancer Institute Patient and Family Support

Patient and Family Support staff can help patients and their loved ones answer questions, find resources, and reduce the distress associated with cancer. Contact us at 801-213-5699.

Cancer Learning Center

Huntsman Cancer Institute

Cancer touches all of us.

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