If you’re living with breast cancer, your emotions can get big and messy. That’s a typical response to all the challenges you may be facing right now. You’re a human, and humans are supposed to feel many emotions.

You may have heard the term “toxic positivity.” Although trying to find the silver lining may seem like a good thing, it can also cause harm. If you feel like you always have to look on the bright side, it can leave you feeling like it’s not OK to feel all the tough emotions.

Anger, anxiety, and grief are just some of the feelings you might be experiencing. They can be hard to deal with. But holding them inside or trying to push them away can just make them even more intense. There are better ways to cope.

Working with a mental health professional or joining a support group can help you work through your feelings about living with breast cancer.

You can also do things in your day-to-day life to express your feelings. Here are some ideas to channel your emotions in a healthy way.

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Physical activity can be an effective way to cope with various feelings. It doesn’t need to be intense to help you feel better. Consider a gentle stroll with a friend, walking through the forest, or a water workout class. A small 2023 study also suggested that yoga can help improve quality of life in people with breast cancer.

Research suggests that, in addition to its emotional benefits, physical activity such as strength training and aerobic exercise may help you manage other side effects of cancer treatment, including fatigue.

Consider talking with a good friend or a family member about how you’re feeling. If the person tends to be a problem solver, let them know you’re not looking for answers. You just want to be heard. You may also consider finding a support group for others living with cancer or working with a therapist.

A good cry can do wonders. Science backs this up. Researchers have looked at changes in the body after crying, and a 2020 study suggested that crying can help regulate breathing and heart rate. Put on a sad song or movie and grab the tissues.

Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you sort through what’s happening in your head. Write whatever comes out without any judgment. Some people find it helpful to write in the form of a letter — to yourself, to cancer, or to someone else.

If writing isn’t your thing, consider doing something creative. Set out crayons, paint, paper, or modeling clay and see what you make. Don’t put any expectations on yourself. There can be joy in the creative process. A small 2016 study also showed that making art can lower your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

Listening to music may help manage stress and reduce anxiety and depression in people with breast cancer. There are many ways to use music to cope. You can listen to relaxing music with your eyes closed. If you need to let off steam, you might blast a high energy song. You can also pick up an instrument or use an app to create your own music.

It’s typical to experience many emotions. If you’re living with breast cancer, emotions can feel even more intense. Dealing with tough feelings, like anger, sadness, and worry, can be really difficult.

There’s no need to always look on the bright side, but having ways to cope is important. Music, movement, art, and connecting with others are some of the ways that you can channel your emotions in a healthy way.

If your emotions become too hard to manage on your own or they interfere with your daily life and relationships, you may want to consider speaking with a doctor. They can refer you to a therapist, licensed clinical social worker, or another mental health professional who can help you find ways to cope.

A support group may also provide you with a safe space to share your emotions and feelings and get support from others who understand what you’re going through.