When faced with a mesothelioma diagnosis, patients have to deal with more than just the physical aspects of their new normal. Let’s face it – hospital bills, the side effects of therapy, evolving interpersonal relationships and a crisis of faith can lead to lots and lots of stress! Plus, asbestos litigation is another worry for those who are worried about the financial security of their family. Besides making sure you are working with a caring team of legal experts in asbestos, sometimes the very best thing you can do in these situations is take a step back and breathe.
How can this possibly be helpful? Well, s tress can cause a lot of bodily functions, such as blood pressure, heart rate and the ability to sleep, to fall out of rhythm. Taking a step back can help you become more aware of what’s happening in your body, take control and approach the stressful problems in your life in a more constructive fashion.
In medicine, there are methods of training yourself to relax and control your physical processes more effectively. One way to do this is through biofeedback.
Learn to control what was uncontrollable
Ok, so what is biofeedback exactly? Here’s the rundown – it’s a complementary medical treatment in which a patient is connected to a machine through electrodes that monitor physical functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, perspiration, skin temperature and muscle tension. The machine then provides “feedback” to the person attached to it so the patient can get an idea of how relaxed he or she is.
There are three main types of biofeedback:
- EMG, which monitors muscle tension.
- Thermal biofeedback, which measures skin temperature.
- Neurofeedback, which records brain waves.
Ultimately, biofeedback machines teach you to be aware of your body in a way that’s similar to how yoga and meditation teach you to be mindful of your breathing: It’s all about slowing things down and being more in the moment. So, if your machine is telling you you’re a little tense based on your blood pressure and heart rate, you can use relaxation techniques to calm yourself down.
Biofeedback started to become more popular in the U.S. beginning in the 1970s. Since then, medical professionals have used it as complementary medicine for problems such as anxiety, chronic pain, depression, high blood pressure, headaches, constipation and more.
How is biofeedback useful for cancer patients?
Each biofeedback session lasts about an hour, and patients typically see results within eight to 10 sessions. Outside of these appointments, you’ll also probably be instructed to perform mental and relaxation exercises at home for five to 10 minutes a day. Remember – in order to make sure you’re working with someone who’s knowledgeable, try to double-check that they have been certified by the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance or a similar institution.
At the end of the day, we can’t forget that people who have been diagnosed with a malignant disease such as mesothelioma often experience side effects because of cancer therapy, including chronic pain and insomnia. The stress of living with cancer can also lead to anxiety and depression.
Biofeedback has the potential to help relieve all of these problems. This therapy may not have any direct effects on the cancer itself, but it can improve your quality of life. If you’re
interested in biofeedback, why not talk to your healthcare team about starting therapy?