Virtual Wellness Center

Coping with Stress and Other Strong Emotions After a Cancer Diagnosis

Stress is defined as emotional tension or mental strain. When a person is diagnosed with cancer, it can cause stress or other strong emotions that come with facing the unknown. This is very normal. Stress is a common feeling for most people, but how we choose to cope with the feeling of stress and the problems causing it makes all the difference. Typically, people approach problems in one of two ways: actively working on them or avoiding them. In general, active coping works better and is healthier.

Ways to Cope with Stress

    Things to Practice

  • Accept that the problem exists and decide what you can and cannot control
  • Take action to solve of the problem if possible
  • Plan how you will deal with the problem
  • Try to get a new perspective by making the best of the situation
  • Look for advice and information to deal with the problem
  • Become aware of your feelings about the problem and express them to others
  • Look for emotional support from professionals
  • Practice techniques like meditation, mindfulness, exercise and breathing techniques

    Things to Avoid

  • Deny that the problem exists
  • Withdraw from social experience
  • Avoid any thoughts about the problem
  • Wishful thinking
  • Use drugs or alcohol to forget the problem
  • Blame and criticize yourself for the problem
  • Keep extra busy and ignore the problem

There are different ways you can cope with stress and prepare your mind to cope with a cancer diagnosis in a healthy way. At Henry Ford Cancer, we treat the whole person, and are here to help you with physical and emotional needs before, during and after cancer treatment. Below are some different techniques and activities to help you cope with your emotions in a healthy way.

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Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are an easy way to relieve stress and anxiety, and you can do them anywhere! Henry Ford experts explain 3 breathing techniques and when to use them.


Let our psych-oncology experts help you and your family cope with the stressors associated with cancer in a healthy, adaptive way, from diagnosis through survivorship. We offer in-person and virtual appointments.

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Newly diagnosed?

Contact the cancer team 24/7 by calling (888) 777-4167.


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