Art and Meditation Hamper Stress for Cancer Patients

Stress for normal people can make one get afflicted with practically any dreaded diseases. Imagine what it can do to an already sick person particularly those with cancer? It has been proven that stress and anxiety hamper healing and can even worsen the condition of people suffering from chronic diseases including cancer. So, it will be very beneficial to know what benefits we can get from Art and Meditation. We have collected reports on related studies and picked one that we can follow through to support our conclusions in this case.

This is a new study conducted by the Jefferson-Myrna BrindCenter of Integrative Medicine claiming that a certain program focusing on mindfulness meditation and art activities can produce changes in the brain which leads to lowering stress levels. This was published in the journal Stress and Health.

The study made a closer look on the physiological effects of stress and anxiety to some eighteen breast cancer patients. It aimed to observe the possible psychosocial effects of Mindfulness-based Art Therapy (MBAT) by monitoring the cerebral blood flow changes during the therapy with MBAT intervention as compared to those not subjected to it. The lead author of this experiment was Daniel Monti.

It was observed that the experiment was divided into two groups. The first group was given Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) activities such as awareness of breathing, emotional state, mindful eating, listening skills, some yoga postures and walking stint. The second group was inclined to do art works- enabling them to freely express themselves especially their emotions in a truly meaningful way and also to somehow improve their self regulation and coping abilities.

We find it very interesting and as a matter of fact noted that a functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) was made on the patients while they are resting. Pictures were also captured on the cerebral blood flow for each contrasting activities; like when the subjects were performing stressful task, while meditating, doing a neutral task and when they were at rest again. On top of that, all participants have to answer the ninety questions symptom checklist at the start and repeated after the end of the two months study.

The most important finding on this study is that: those who went through MBAT got significantly low score on anxiety tests as compared to those in the control group. More blood flow was observed to the emotional centers of the brain particularly the left insula which plays a big role in the perception of emotions, the amygdala which regulates the experience of stress, the pippocampus which regulates the physiological stress response and the caudate nucleus which is associated with the experience of rewards.

Therefore we agree in the researchers’ conclusion that MBSR therapy can reduce anxiety, depression and other forms of psychological distress that is really harmful to people with chronic diseases. With this is mind, it is recommended that when you are living with a person suffering from a dreaded or chronic disease, the least you can do is to provide a stress-free environment for that patient. Being more understanding alone can already minimise their stress or anxiety level. How much more if you take the initiative in introducing such activities in the field of art and meditation?

Sounds simple but the reward is great. It will improve their immune function and their coping abilities will be enhanced. This goes the same for healthy individuals including you. Have no place for stress and anxiety in your body. If it cannot be avoided, take the time out to get rid of these negative feelings by unwinding and consciously incorporating meditation and art practices in your daily existence. We bet that this is a proven fact and must not be taken for granted.

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