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Symptom Management:

Symptom Management

Side Effects of Treatment
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Pain
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Coping
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Developing Coping Strategies

There are times in life when everything seems to be going well, and it is possible to experience reasonably long periods of great joy. Change is a fact of life, however, and satisfaction is rarely permanent. Even if all your physical needs are met, you live in harmonious relationships, and your work is meaningful and fulfilling, you still probably experience some degree of frustration and conflict because you initiate changes in your life in the pursuit of new and enriching experiences to satisfy your growth needs.

Coping strategies are ways of dealing with the emotional distress that comes from not having your needs met. In general, there are three categories of coping strategies; you can alter (a) the interaction with the cause of the distress, (b) thoughts and beliefs regarding the significance of the need that is not being met, or (c) the distressing feeling, without changing the situation or how you think about it.

To reduce emotional distress by changing your interaction with the situation, you could:

  • Attack the situation head-on (“I’m anxious about asking her out, but I’ll go ahead and do it”).
  • Avoid the situation (“I’m too nervous about possible rejection. I’ll do it some other time”).
  • Adapt to the situation (“I get nervous every time I ask someone out, but that’s normal. So what?”).

To change your thoughts and beliefs about the significance of the unmet need, you could:

  • Judge your situation to be less distressing than someone else’s (“At least I’m meeting people. Poor John works so much he doesn’t get to meet anyone”).
  • See your distress as necessary or temporary (“This is the way it is,” or “Eventually I’ll find somebody and I won’t have to go through this anymore”).
  • Focus on positive aspects of a situation and minimize the negative (“If she says yes, I’m sure we’ll have a great time”).
  • Devalue the goal and believe you will do fine no matter the outcome (“If he says no, it won’t be the end of the world”).

Reducing emotional distress by changing or reducing the intensity of the feeling itself could involve releasing emotional energy through an alternative activity:

  • Exercise helps with frustration and anger.
  • Meditation helps with sadness and anger.
  • Talking to a receptive and empathic person can help with grief, shame, and anxiety.
Empower yourself with information.  Knowledge is power.
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