An Evening at Colleens

Author: Gillian Horton   Date Posted:16 April 2015 

I have introduced monthly Evening at Colleens with guest speakers as a way to share information and offer support to those affected by cancer.

The speaker for our first Evening was Catherine McCoy from iNaturally  who spoke about ways to manage your stress and overwhelm after a breast cancer diagnosis. Some tips included:

Food for Mood

Having a healthy diet with plenty of protein, fresh fruit and vegetables and good fats will help you to not only feel better physically, but mentally/emotionally as well.  Catherine will talk more about nutrition in our next Evening at Colleen's on Thursday 14th May when she brings us  "Eating for a Healthier Version of You".

A Good Night’s Sleep

Over time, your stress response can disrupt your normal circadian rhythms (your eat/sleep/wake cycle). This cycle is governed by the stress hormone cortisol which comes from your adrenal glands. To help reset, you can try the following:

  • Sunlight triggers your cortisol waking response. Try to go outside in the sunlight within a half hour of waking up for about 5 minutes.  Also, try to eat breakfast within 1 hour after waking.
  • Try to go to be bed at the same time and get out of bed at the same time every day (including weekends).
  • Your deepest sleep occurs in the earlier portion of the night before midnight – make sure you don’t go to bed too late.
  • Don’t have your bedroom or bed too hot – your body temperature needs to drop for you to get good quality sleep. Keeping the bed cool when the chemo induced hot flushes grip us is not that easy!!!


Exercise produces endorphins (our feel good chemicals) and releases tension and stress.  Try to exercise once every day, even if it is a short walk around the block.  YWCA Encore program offers a free 8 week program for women who have experienced breast cancer.

Yoga is very good for stress management. For those in Canberra Vitalyoga offers a class for those recovering from a serious illness for the cost of a donation.


The benefits of meditation on reducing stress levels are well known.  Even meditating for 5 minutes most days is very beneficial. 


Our body fluctuates between the “rest & digest” state and “fight or flight” state.  We naturally move back and forth between these states in an approximate 90 minutes cycle (ebb and flow).  Sometimes when under stress, we tend to get stuck in “fight or flight”.   To work on getting back to a healthy regulating rhythm, try the following breathing technique:

Yoga Nostril Breating Technique:

  • Block right nostril, breath in for 2 seconds, hold for 2 seconds, swap finger to left nostril and breath out the left nostril for 2 seconds.  Keep finger blocking left nostril and repeat with sequence, swapping sides back and forth for about 3 minutes. 


Massage can not only help to relieve tight and tense muscles and increase circulation, but it is a perfect relaxation therapy.  There is nothing nicer than a relaxing and gentle massage using essential oils.  Enjoy!


Having a private and safe space to download your thoughts, fears, ideas and goals is extremely helpful to sort through your feelings.   


Sometimes diet and lifestyle are not enough.  That’s when supplements of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and herbs can be extremely beneficial. 

I look forward to welcoming you to an Evening at Colleen's in the near future.


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