Mindful meditation helps teens with cancer

Mindful meditation helps teens with cancer

Much research has revealed that emotions can directly affect your health, and reportedly, by taking charge of your thoughts, you can alter how you feel physically. Being mindful or present is one technique that can help us take charge of our health. A recent study even found that using mindful meditation could help teens battling cancer to lessen some of their symptoms.

Study findings were presented at the American Psychosomatic Society Meeting in San Francisco in mid-March. Researchers found that teens facing cancer experience not only the physical symptoms of their condition but also worry about disease progression and recurrence, anticipate pain associated with the illness and treatment, and show concerns about life changes that occur while living with cancer.

To determine if mindfulness meditation techniques could help these teens, 13 teens with cancer were surveyed in a clinical trial about their mood, sleep habits and quality of life.

Researchers divided the groups into two. One group was offered eight mindfulness meditation sessions and the other group was put on a waiting list. Each of the eight sessions took place once a week for 90 minutes. Once the sessions were completed, participants from both groups filled out the questionnaire again.

“We found that teenagers who participated in the mindfulness group had lower scores in depression after our eight sessions,” said study co-author Catherine Malboeuf-Hurtubise in a statement.

“Our results suggest that mindfulness sessions could be helpful in improving mood and sleep in teenagers with cancer, as previous oncology research suggests with adults,” said Malboeuf-Hurtubise, a doctoral student at the University of Montreal’s department of psychology.

Physiologically speaking, meditation can also help manage the body’s response to stress. “The diaphragmatic breathing done during meditation can turn off the sympathetic (flight or fight) nervous system and turn on the parasympathetic nervous system causing a relaxation response,” explains Ericka Pomatto, group exercise instructor at Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill.

This form of meditation offers other advantages as well, especially when done in a group setting. “One really great benefit of a group mind-body practice in particular (whether it’s meditation, yoga or tai chi) is the sense of community or oneness that is created during the practice,” adds Pomatto, who teaches yoga as part of her exercise instruction.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.