You can ease your chronic pain, lower high blood pressure and anxiety and even drop levels of stress hormones through a simple step, and it doesn’t even cost anything. All you have to do is think – or maybe stop thinking so hard.
There are lots of forms of meditation: tai chi and qi gong are meditative, and some people relax by repeating words or phrases, called mantras. Although some forms started as part of Eastern religions, meditation is not a religion itself – and many people use it just to boost their well-being.
Particularly popular among cancer patients is mindfulness meditation. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, research shows that doing this regularly can improve quality of life. In one study of cancer patients who practiced mindfulness meditation for seven weeks, nearly a third had fewer stress symptoms and nearly two thirds experienced fewer mood disturbances than patients who didn’t meditate.
Many of the dying don’t fear death as much as they fear how they will die. “It’s the in-between part people fear the most. If you can give them insight on what to expect, that can ease a lot of their concerns,” says City of Hope palliative care physician Heather Bitar, D.O.
Diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia, Jessica Appel knew that her time was running out. Still, her story has a bittersweet ending, thanks to the many City of Hope employees on her care team who did everything they could to allow her to pass away on her own terms.