For cancer patients, caregivers, family members and survivors
Relax and Renew

Benefits of Music Therapy and Relaxation

Stress and anxiety are normal reactions to cancer and treatment. But when these feelings cause physical or emotional side effects that impact your quality of life, it may be time to seek support. Research suggests uncontrolled stress may actually increase pain. Additionally, 75 percent of cancer patients and survivors are affected by sleep disorders, according to an article in the journal of Cancer Medicine.

Every day, Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) therapists work with patients and caregivers whose lives have been impacted by stress, due to a cancer diagnosis and treatments. CTCA® behavioral health therapist and board-certified music therapist Teresa Burnett, LCSW, MT-BC says cancer patients and their loved ones often feel like so much has been taken out of their control, it’s not surprising they commonly struggle with anxiety, pain and insomnia. Behavioral therapy interventions may relieve stress and its side effects by fully relaxing your mind and body. Learning to manage stress restores your sense of control and well-being.

Teresa uses a variety of stress-busting approaches, including music therapy, in her individual and group sessions at CTCA in Tulsa. Now patients at home can benefit with her downloadable podcast. Titled Relax and Renew: A guided music therapy experience, Burnett’s audio therapy session incorporates four proven relaxation techniques: music therapy, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery. 

This 30-minute, interactive podcast is most effective when sitting comfortably in a chair or on a yoga or floor mat. (Please don’t attempt while driving.) Teresa will guide you through steps to relax your body and renew your mind.

For those who like a visual guide, print our step-by-step instructions designed to accompany the podcast. 

Download PDF Instructions

Music therapy uses music to address your physical and emotional needs. It may be used to help alleviate emotional, physical and social stresses caused by cancer, or to boost your mood and help you through cancer treatment and recovery.

Diaphragmatic (deep) breathing or abdominal breathing engages the mind and tells your body that it’s okay to relax. It focuses your mind on breathing, replacing worries or thoughts that are causing anxiety.

Progressive muscle relaxation is a systematic way of holding and releasing specific muscle groups. By building, then releasing tension in your muscles, you get a deeper sense of release.

Guided imagery uses the creative imagination to build a picture in the mind of a place of safety and comfort. It also enables you to apply these feelings of calm and peace to areas of the body where you may be experiencing discomfort or pain.

Patients who have participated in Relax and Renew report sleeping better and gaining more hours of restful sleep, according to Burnett. One patient commented, “For the first time I wasn’t thinking about cancer and felt at peace in my body.”

“I recommend practicing the Relax and Renew process daily,” Burnett says. “With practice you will learn to use any one of the four interventions any time you are feeling stressed, anxious, experience a panic attack or are dealing with sleeplessness.”


Find help

- If someone you care about has received a cancer diagnosis, referring him or her to CTCA is easy. Simply share this phone number: 844-97-FIGHT or visit visit the refer-a-friend page.

- The Behavioral Health Team at CTCA is designed to help you maintain your health and improve your quality of life during and after treatment. Behavioral Health offers evidence-informed therapies to help patients cope with cancer-related side effects including fatigue, cognitive impairment, depression, anxiety, sexual function and sleep disorders. Whether you are at one of our cancer hospitals, or at home in between visits, we're here to help. Contact your CTCA care team to learn more about our Behavioral Health Services.

Learn more

How stress affects your health. While a definite link between stress and the development of cancer has not been established, some research suggests chronic stress may accelerate the progression of cancer if you already have the disease. Here are 10 tips for managing stress when you have cancer. 

Managing the stress of being a caregiver. You already know the importance of managing your loved one’s pain medication and assisting your loved one with daily activities. But do you stop to consider how you are managing your own emotions and physical well-being.

You may be interested in these resources:

Writing for just a few minutes a day can remove mental blocks, letting you harness the power of your mind.


Mind-body medicine links physical health with psychological and spiritual wellness.