Written by Lisa Yen, NP, NBC-HWC - March 19th, 2019
With the LA marathon just around the corner, we dedicate this 3-part series to “NET marathon training.” This is because people often compare living with NET to running a marathon rather than a sprint. Marathon Training Part 1 addressed understanding the race and proper pacing. We explained the science behind the stress, specifically the body’s response to stress by releasing stress hormones to perceived threats that cause the body to break into a sprint.
In Marathon Training Part 2, we introduced a strategy to slow our pace and build resilience to sustain an endurance run. The strategy is to train our body to respond to stress differently. It involves understanding your own unique stress by breaking it down into its common elements: Novelty, Unpredictability, Threat to ego, and Sense of no control. After deconstructing your stress, the next step is to reconstruct the stress by training our body to interpret the stressor differently.
In this third and final part of our NET marathon training series, we will discuss rest and recovery. While putting in mileage (i.e., education, research, medical appointments) is important in marathon training, there is also an art to recovery. While we suggest different techniques, there isn’t a one-size that fits all. Just as each runner has a unique gait and stride, each person living with NET has individual needs and different responses to stress-reduction techniques. There isn’t one right way to de-stress. Unfortunately, there simply isn’t a quick fix. Avoiding the stressor also doesn’t work. The important thing is that you find constructive ways to de-stress that work best for you.
STRESS RECOVERY TECHNIQUES & TOOLS
1. Talk it Out: Empathy Helps.
Find people to talk to. To be more specific, find the right people to talk to. Find people that you feel safe talking to, people that you feel can provide the type of empathy and support you need.
Here are a few suggestions:
Join a local educational/support group.
Click here for a directory of NET support groups.
If you are in the Los Angeles area, we encourage you to join LACNETS at our monthly meetings and the LACNETS Annual Patient Education Conference. Joining our meetings remotely via LACNETS Facebook Live or watching the recordings at a later time on the LACNETS YouTube Channel is also an option.
Connect with others online. Click here for a directory of online support and discussion groups.
Circle of Reflection at Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology
Cancer Support Community provides online and in-person support services.
2. Mindfulness & Meditation: Pause and find an anchor.
Allow your breath to be your anchor. Taking a moment to focus on your breath can help set your intention on how you run the race. Focusing on your breath helps slow down the rate of your breathing and pulse, resulting in a more sustainable pace.
If you’re a religious or a spiritual person, carve out time for prayer and other spiritual practices.
Mindfulness and meditation resources can be found here.
3. Pets: Find a furry friend.
If you don’t own a pet, consider volunteering to walk or transport dogs with a local rescue organization like Wags & Walks in West LA.
4. Art: Tap into your creativity.
Try art therapy at places such as Cancer Support Community.
Color in a coloring book.
Paint with finger paint or watercolors. Join a paint party at a place such as Painting with a Twist.
Take a pottery class at a place like Color Me Mine.
Journal or write poetry.
5. Move: Get up and move.
Go for a walk.
Dance to your favorite music.
Explore a new place.
Try a new activity.
6. Play: Let your inner child out
Splash in the ocean.
Play a musical instrument. You don’t need to have musical talent. Strum a guitar or ukulele, beat on a drum, clang a cymbal, or blow into a harmonica.
7. Listen: Music heals.
“Surprised By Beauty” is music composed by Tom Bajoras since his diagnosis with NET. The music is inspired by experiences of surprising encounters with beauty amid suffering.
8. Laughter: Laughter is great medicine.
Laugh with the NET patient and comedian Steve Mazan.
As you run your race, know that you’re not in this alone. Look around and see the others running alongside you and others cheering from the sidelines. You’ve got this!