How to cope with waiting for news

Whether you’re worried about symptoms, recently diagnosed or at the end of your cancer treatment, waiting for life-changing news can be incredibly stressful.

Studies show that fear of the unknown actually makes us feel more stressed than we do when we know for certain that something bad is about to happen. Whether you’re waiting to see your doctor, waiting on test results, or waiting to hear those words ‘all clear,’ that waiting time can feel almost debilitating. You're worried sick. You can't focus on anything else. You feel totally powerless. You feel unable to make any plans. You can’t sleep

It's perfectly natural to fear the worst and think your whole world is about to end – but that won't be the case, even if it's bad news. Once you've been given the information, you can plan accordingly and start to move forward. But for now, you have no idea what the outcome will be – so why worry?

It's a fact that our immune systems can be affected by our psychology, so if we're negative, it will have a knock-on effect on our overall health. So, the worst thing you can do while you're waiting is to worry. But of course, it's easier said than done.

If you're waiting for medical test results, focusing on the worst possible outcome is not the best way to spend your time. Although it may seem there's only one of two ways this can go, in reality, there's an entire spectrum of things you may be told.

Cancer Chat is a great place to come for support, advice and information or just to let off steam but too much time on the internet isn’t always a good thing and by Googling your symptoms or reading up on other people’s outcomes you're guaranteed to find some little detail that appears to back up your worst fears and throws you into more of a panic. If you do feel in need of expert advice, speak to your GP. Or speak to one of our specialist nurses who are on hand to talk from Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm either by telephone on 0808 800 4040 or you can post a question in our Ask the Nurses section of the forum. But remember, nobody is going to be able to tell you the results any sooner.

In the meantime, the best thing you can do is try to take your mind off things. That could be through reading, listening to music, meditation or maybe going to the theatre or cinema. Whatever helps to keep you distracted. Try to avoid spending time Googling, try going for a walk instead. Just five minutes of exercise in a green space is enough to lift your mood. We really like these great distraction strategies from Cambridge University Hospital and also these helpful self-help techniques for tacking worries from the NHS Every mind matters website but do feel free to share your own thoughts by replying below.