The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is stress. In this blog, Emily talks about stress caused by a cancer diagnosis and suggests ways to help you cope.

All of us experience feelings of stress from time to time. It’s not a nice feeling, but it’s only human. A heavy workload or problems at home can commonly lead to more stress and worry than usual. If you have been affected by cancer, stress may have become part of your daily life. But it’s important to recognise when you are struggling. 

What are some of the signs of stress?
Stress can affect how you feel both physically and mentally. If you are suffering from stress, you may:

  • feel overwhelmed, irritable or anxious
  • find yourself constantly worrying
  • have physical symptoms such as a headache, muscle tension or tiredness
  • have trouble sleeping
  • notice a change in your eating, drinking and smoking habits
  • find your relationships with others more challenging.

For more information about the signs and symptoms of stress from the NHS, click here.

This banner reads 'stress top tips'

  1. Talk about your feelings.
  2. Ask for support when you need it – call us free on 0808 808 00 00, speak to someone you trust, or see your GP.
  3. Try some tips from our blog on dealing with stress.
  4. Try not to be too hard on yourself.

This image says: It is okay not to be okay. Try not to put pressure on yourself to feel a certain way. And remember that help is always available.

If you have cancer
At Macmillan, we know that cancer affects more than just your physical health. It can leave you feeling uncertain for a long time and may affect your work, family and social life.

We have lots of information to help you look after your emotional health. If you are struggling with your feelings, our booklet, How are you feeling? The emotional effects of cancer may be a good place to start.

If cancer has affected your ability to work, our booklet Work and cancer has information to help you cope. It covers important topics like employment rights and gives helpful tips on talking about cancer with your colleagues.

If you are a carer
If you are looking after someone with cancer, their diagnosis may also be causing you extra stress, both emotionally and financially. It is important to look after yourself, even when you are caring for someone else. Our booklet Looking after someone with cancer has more ideas on how to cope as a carer for someone with cancer.

As a carer, you may be entitled to some benefits. We have lots of information about financial support for carers on our website. We also have financial advisors are available through the support line on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).

Finding emotional support
If you are struggling with stress, knowing that there are people to help may lighten the load of your worries a little.

If you are concerned about the effect of stress on your mental health, visit your GP. They will be able to give you more support and advice.

Macmillan also have information and support centres all over the UK offering face to face support. To find a centre near you, click here and type in your postcode.

Finding financial support
Many people with cancer experience money worries. That’s why we have information to help, online and in print. And our support line has a financial guidance team. They can talk to you about any financial concerns you may have, such as:

  • energy costs
  • mortgages
  • insurance
  • pensions
  • work
  • benefits
  • planning ahead.

Whether you are stressed about your finances or just want a chat, you can call our support line on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm). Our support line experts are ready to help with practical, financial and emotional support. However you are feeling, we are here to help.


To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.

We're with you every step of the way

The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

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