Coping with Scanxiety Through Mindfulness

You know that familiar feeling that arises when your next CT scan is coming up?

A nervous tension in the pit of your stomach…

Heart racing…

Palms sweating…

Maybe your mind is completely engulfed in all the worst possible outcomes.

The cancer is back!

The current treatment is not working! 

The mass is growing!

There are new metastases in my lungs, I just know it!

This, my friends, is scanxiety, or Scan-Associated Distress. And according to this study, upwards of 80% of patients with cancer experience this.

You are not alone. 

But, this is no way to LIVE

When your mind hauls off on these worst case scenario tangents, you are living in thoughts based in the future and creating negative feelings and physical effects on your body that you experience today. 

So what can you do when you experience this type of stress?

Practice grounding yourself in the present moment. Here are some ideas:

  • Try the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. I previously wrote a blog on this here. This allows you to use your 5 senses to bring your mind’s current experience back to the present moment and away from all those pesky thoughts.
  • Be with nature. It sounds like tree-hugging hippy advice, but in all seriousness, if you can go outside and be with a tree, just do it. Watch the gentle movement of the leaves and branches. Inhale deeply the scent. Works every time.
  • Use a scent to ground you. I like to dab a little bit of lavender essential oil on my wrist and deeply inhale this calming scent when I begin to feel stress. 
  • Set aside some designated time for worrying. From 7:30 pm-8:00pm today, I worry. When worries come up outside of that window, redirect.
  • Exercise! This will get your endorphins flowing allowing you to feel better. In particular, yoga may be particularly useful because of the added mindfulness practice associated. But honestly, do a type of exercise that you enjoy.
  • Practicing regular mindfulness meditation will also allow you to more easily recognize the negative thought pattern and return your awareness to the current moment.

The present moment is your place of healing and peace.