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By Sharen Lock
Integrative Medicine Service

When stressful situations arise, such as having surgery, studies have shown that practicing mind-body techniques using relaxation and guided imagery before and after surgery can help lower anxiety, reduce discomfort, increase speed of recovery, improve healing and lower the need for pain or nausea medication.

Learning these techniques will empower you to take a more active role in your overall health and well-being.

The Integrative Medicine Service at Moffitt offers the following suggestions to help with stressful situations. We also include information about digital recordings of guided relaxation, imagery and mindfulness meditation exercises that can support you on your journey to better health and well-being.

Honor Your Body

Please be sure to honor your body. Choose one or more of the exercises listed below. If you find that something does not feel right, skip that movement or change it so it is more comfortable for you. Begin by finding a comfortable seated position.

1. Pause: Take a moment to notice how you feel right now. Ask yourself the following questions: How do I feel physically? How do I feel emotionally? Am I breathing fully?

2. Breathe: Take five slow, deep breaths. Count them. Inhale 1…Exhale 1…Inhale 2…Exhale 2... and so on. Try to complete all five breaths and then pause again.

3. Set an intention for your day: Think about what you would like to invite into your life and pick one word to focus on today. Some examples could be comfort, warmth, strength, patience, acceptance, love, peace, balance or something else that speaks to you. Repeat that word to yourself three times.

4. Move: Yoga is a popular mind-body practice that can help individuals reduce stress and anxiety, cope with pain and discomfort and improve strength, flexibility and balance.  View the following videos by clicking on the links below.

Videos: Gentle Yoga in the Chair
             Standing Yoga
             Gentle Bed Yoga 

5. Healing Hand Positions: Try these hand positions and see how they impact your body, mind, and breath. Start with holding the hands in position for 5 – 10 relaxed breaths and always release if you feel discomfort.

Healing Hands PositionThis helps calm the nervous system and is good for reducing anxiety. Curl the fingers around the thumbs of each hand to form two fists. Place the hands, palms down, on the thighs. Hold this hand position for 5-10 breaths.

Healing Hands PositionThis calms the nervous system and is good for calming the mind. Lightly connect the tip of the thumb with the tip of the index finger and rest your hands against your thighs or by your side if you are lying down. Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Healing Hands PositionThis helps direct the breath into the entire body. Gently press together the tips of all fingers, keeping them slightly curled, and place the hands in front of your body. Hold for 5-10 breaths.

6. Guided Meditation and Relaxation: Intended to calm the mind and give individuals the ability to better manage their emotions, meditation can be highly effective at improving psychological health and overall quality of life. View the following video by clicking on the link below.

Video: Meditation

7. Breathe: - Benefits of breath:  

  • Benefits all of the organ systems of the body and oxygenates the blood
  • Improves digestion, respiration, and mental focus
  • Can create a sense of relaxation and reduce fatigue and anxiety
  • Promotes a feeling of well being

View the following video by clicking on the link below.

Video: Introduction to Breathing

8. Affirmation: This affirmation helps to develop kindness and compassion for yourself and others. It is especially helpful when you are going through a difficult time. You can dedicate it to yourself or anyone else.
    • May we be filled with loving-kindness
    • May we be well
    • May we be peaceful and at ease
    • May we be happy

For more information on how to use yoga or meditation for stress relief, please contact Sharen Lock at 813-745-2014 or email

For more information on the Integrative Medicine Service, please call 813-745-6052 or email

Produced by the Patient Education Department. Reviewed by Patient & Family Advisors.