The first-ever Healing Cancer World Summit was a beautiful, healing, heart-expanding whirlwind. I loved chatting with many of you on social media, and in the comments here and over on the summit site. Your curiosity and commitment to your health never cease to amaze me! Using the results from this event, I compiled a modern-day guide for navigating cancer that you can find here.
This experience reminded me that together, we can fill up the universe with hope and love—for cancer patients, for people struggling and for ourselves. Hope is what we really need, and we have the power to choose it over fear. Isn’t that comforting?
I’ve long dreamed about creating something like this for you. I was so focused on making it the most valuable, uplifting event about cancer you’ve ever attended that I regularly got caught up on my role as interviewer and producer. I often had to pause and remind myself that I’m a patient who needs this information, too. And once I did that, I learned so much.
I could go on and on about my many takeaways, but one in particular stands out from the rest. It caused me to take a long, hard look at my healing priorities. And the new commitment I’ve made as a result has become my current health focus. I’m sharing it with you today because I hope you’ll make this commitment, too!
I’m promising to do everything I can to drastically reduce stress in my life.
You’re my witness! I’ve known for a long time that stress leads to inflammation and inflammation leads to disease. But because I’m so stubborn, and don’t always apply what I teach to my own practice, I needed the reminder.
I get caught up in work and life and future tripping just like anyone else. And when I forget to do what I need to reduce stress, it really takes a toll on me. It impacts my sleep, I don’t exercise as much, my diet isn’t as great and I forget to prioritize what really matters (nature, my friends, family and sanity). The result: My joy shrinks and my immune system tanks. When I’m in that place, it feels like I’m standing at the foot of an unscalable mountain and I might never get to the other side (I bet you’ve been there at some point, too).
Not convinced yet that stress is serious business? Almost every single one of the 20 experts I spoke with for the Summit—doctors, wellness experts, nutritionists, spiritual teachers and patients alike—echoed this truth in some form. These quotes in particular were huge a-ha moments for me, and I think they’re gonna resonate with you, too.
The moment Iyanla dropped this powerful nugget of wisdom, I knew it would be with me forever. If we spend our precious time stressing, we can’t possibly be truly living. So, take a moment and check in with yourself. Is stress eating up your life? How often do you experience that unmistakable feeling of cortisol flooding your system—the blood pressure rising, the knot in your gut?
Now, to be clear, I don’t want you to stress about stress. It’s completely normal and sometimes you just gotta let those feelings flow. But taking simple steps to reduce stress, even in ways that may seem small or insignificant, can lead to big shifts. Because remember, you are a wonderful being with so much magic to share with the world and stress does nothing but dim your shine.
Not sure where to start? Here are four simple ways to reduce stress:
- Meditate: I know you’ve heard this one from me before, but even 5 minutes a day can make a difference in your life. Iyanla’s Summit lesson (and several other sessions, for that matter!) includes an amazing meditation that you can use again and again.
- Tap: Nick Ortner, my good friend and CEO of the Tapping Solution, was another one of my fabulous Summit guests. EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques or “tapping”) is a quick, simple way to get grounded and turn down the volume on your stress. Nick even walks you through a couple of quick tapping exercises in his lesson!
- Use essential oils: This is my go-to way to reduce stress in a pinch. Lavender may not address the root of an issue, but it does wonders for restoring balance and clearing my mind when I need to reset.
- Spend time in nature: My daily walks are a tried and true stress reducer. They range from anywhere between 10 minutes to an hour. The length of time doesn’t matter, the consistency does. When I don’t take time in nature to clear my head and center my thoughts, I’m less stress resilient.
I love this quote from my wise dad. Many of us spend a lot of time anticipating tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. But the truth is that no matter how much sleep we lose, it’s not going to change the outcome. All we do by creating these stories is distract ourselves from living in the present moment.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t have agency over our futures—we absolutely do! But positivity and love are far more powerful than stress. So, from now on, every time I catch myself worrying about what’s next, I’m going to do my best to replace those thoughts with positive affirmations. Will you join me?
Try saying one of these affirmations (or one of your own!) out loud next time you need to reduce stress:
- “I will be ok, no matter what.”
- “Everything is unfolding exactly as it needs to.”
- “I have the love and support I need to get through this.”
There was a lot of talk about how important it is to reduce stress throughout the Summit, but a few guests really drove home how much damage it can do to our systems if we don’t. One of those brilliant individuals was Penny Block, PhD, co-founder of the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment and expert in biobehavioral health. That means she’s super knowledgeable about how our thoughts impact our health, and she could not have been more clear about chronic stress—it wreaks havoc on our systems.
Stress can influence everything from the way our genes behave to the success of our healing efforts. The simple truth is that no matter how much kale you eat, how many vitamins you take and hours you spend exercising, you can’t be truly healthy if you’re constantly in fight or flight mode. That’s why I’m hoping you’ll join me in thinking of stress reduction as an essential part of your healing or prevention plan—right up there with green juice and surrounding yourself with super smart docs like Penny.
And there’s one final quote I want to leave you with. This one isn’t from the Summit interviews themselves, but from our very own Summit angel—Louise Hay. She was by my side through all of the planning, strategizing, interviewing, filming and writing. During my interview with Robert Holden, PhD, a Hay House author Louise adored, his lights started flickering. You can hear it happen in our interview from Day 6. It was an unforgettable moment and we both got crazy goosebumps. No doubt, Louise was with us then and still is today.
Louise always encouraged me to take my healing further, and I hope this gem does the same for you:
Isn’t it wild how something so simple can turn your perspective on its head? Next time you’re in the stress weeds and feel like you can’t find your way out, I hope you’ll remember this. Yes—stress is scary. It can be quite sneaky and convincing. But you don’t have to believe those thoughts. You can release them and ask the universe for something else—for love, for strength and for whatever you need to protect your precious self.
Your turn: Can we make a pact? I’m committing to do everything I can to reduce stress in my life—will you join me? Give me “I’m with you!” in the comments below.
Peace and sweet relief,
I collaborated with experts I’ve met through my experience with cancer and compiled a modern-day guide for navigating cancer with courage, clarity, and confidence. Whether you’re a cancer patient, survivor, thriver, caregiver or you’re interested in prevention, Your Cancer Guide was created with your needs in mind. Learn how this 7-step roadmap for prevention and recovery can help you in your cancer journey here.