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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Hypnotherapy can help ... people to cope with their cancer treatment and associated symptoms.

A couple of years ago I had the privilege of working with a client (I’ll call her Sally) to help her cope with her breast cancer treatment chemotherapy and radiotherapy and associated symptoms. She said hypnotherapy helped to lower her anxiety significantly and enabled her to relax, so that she could deal with her treatment in a positive way, confidently and with strength.

Sally is a wonderful example of someone who endeavoured to help herself get through the potentially traumatic time in the very best way she could. As well as having regular hypnotherapy sessions and practicing self hypnosis she put in place fundamental elements to help her throughout her recovery. One particular thing that has always stuck in my mind is how her husband helped her make raised beds in their garden so she could plant and tend vegetables. She knew that it was important to do something relaxing, that she was in control of, and gave her pleasure thereby contributing to her overall sense of well-being.

Anyone who has experience of a close friend or relative going through cancer treatment will no doubt have witnessed their levels of anxiety increase. Evidence suggests that people’s emotional states affect their immune levels. When feelings of fear and anxiety persist over time high levels of cortisol become toxic; during this sustained state the performance of the immune system is seriously weakened.

Hypnotherapy is a way to help cancer sufferers by encouraging the following key factors …

Relaxation (vs a sustained state of anxiety/stress)Relaxation can, quite simply, be perceived to ‘un-suppress’ the immune system.

Positivity and joy (vs depression) By helping people to focus on the positive things in their life; this promotes the release of the ‘feel good’ chemicals which help to motivate us, there's even a chemical that promotes satisfaction and fulfilment, giving a feeling of success! And then there's good old Serotonin that helps to give us a feeling of happiness.

Taking an Active Role Being a doer not just being done unto (vs a passive role). Alleviation of chronic stress lies in the word ‘control’. By helping people to achieve some degree of control in their life the effects of stress can be minimized or in some cases eliminated.

Social support (vs social isolation) We generally function better as part of a group than we do as individuals. Time spent enjoying the company and working with others gives a boost to those ‘feel good’ chemicals helping us to feel better about ourselves.

One of the most important things we can do for ourselves is to learn to relax. It goes without saying that it’s impossible to feel relaxed and stressed at the same time. When we are relaxed we are in a state conducive to healing. The use of hypnotherapy eases feelings of anxiety and increases relaxation thereby decreasing stress and improving immune function; effectively, safely and naturally. Anyone interested in using hypnosis should discuss this with their cancer care team first and ensure that they are using an appropriately trained hypnotherapist.

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