Fewer things have more taboos surrounding them than mental wellness. But what if it didn't? What if we could shift the paradigm of mental health from thinking something's "wrong" with you to one of understanding that mental wellness is just as crucial to living a full and healthy life as diet and exercise.
How you feel in your mind, and the thoughts that torment your overweighted brain can be devastating to your health no matter how many vegetables you eat daily.
In this week's episode, I'll talk about mental health, why it's important, how you can think differently about it simple steps you can take to support your total wellbeing.
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This is Laura Lummer, the breast cancer recovery coach. I'm a healthy lifestyle coach, a clinical Ayurveda specialist, a personal trainer,
and I'm also a breast cancer survivor.
In this podcast, we talk about healthy thinking and mindfulness practices, eating well, moving your body for health and longevity. And we'll also hear from other breast cancer survivors who have reengaged with life and have incredible stories to share. This podcast is your go-to resource for getting back to life after breast cancer.
Hello, and welcome to the breast cancer recovery coach Podcast. I am your host, Laura Lummer. And I want to welcome you if you're a returning listener welcome. Thanks for coming back. And if you're brand new to the show, welcome. I'm so happy that you found it. And I hope you love what you hear.
I'm really looking forward to today's show. Because I think that this is a topic that we need to talk about more openly, more transparently, and just face it head-on so that we can start breaking down some of the barriers that will then allow us to just experience better health and more happiness without guilt or shame. So, we're going to dig real deep into this stuff today. And I'm I can't wait.
But first, I have two very quick announcements to make.
First is that my 10-week coaching program, Revivify, is now open for enrollment. And the new course will begin on Monday, October 12. You can find all the details about Revivify on my website, thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com, under courses and coaching, or you can go to thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/revivify.
And if you've been on the fence about joining this amazing program, trust me, now is the time to jump off of that fence and do something for yourself.
I think it's especially important right now, which is why I offered this additional class; I didn't have another course planned until January. But we're coming up. It's October. It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's the beginning of the last 90 days of perhaps the weirdest year we've ever experienced in the human experience, all of us together at once. And you still have to figure out how to take care of yourself and how to navigate the holidays with COVID and in a pandemic, maybe how to restructure lifelong traditions. And I know that Revivify will help you finish this year strong.
So when I open Revivify, I always offer a series of webinars because the webinars can help everyone. Whether you're interested in a coaching program or not. And I want to be able to give as much value back to my community and support to my community as I possibly can.
So I'm going to be doing four webinars in October. And the webinar is called How to Revive your life after breast cancer. I'm going to be sharing my four pillars of breast cancer recovery, and how you can incorporate some of the valuable practices of these pillars into your life.
It's completely free. You can go to my website now and register at thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/October. And there are four different webinars, so you can pick one that works for you. And we'll hang out for an hour in October. I'm really, really excited about this.
And I'm going to throw in it even extra super fun challenge. And that's going to happen in the second week of October. Details are going to be available next week.
But keep watching my website, my Facebook page, Laura Lummer. And make sure that you come back and check for that challenge because it's going to be a good one.
Alright. So, let's dig into the show.
I know that I've talked many times on the show about the long-lasting impact of emotional pain versus physical pain and how powerful emotional pain is. Especially when you haven't worked through it. You just bury it, which is a fascinating choice of words. You bury your emotions, and you push them down.
Well, where are you pushing them? Where are you burying them inside of you right in your body, as if you could hide from something that's inside your own body? Think about that. It's a bizarre concept.
I read this story that I'd like to share with you. It was on the elements massage blog, and it was written by a massage therapist.
It's titled massage and emotional release.
And I thought of this because I have a sister who was a massage therapist for many years and who our whole family's still weasels massages out of every time we get together to have a gathering that she's present in, but that's not the point.
But when she was going through her training, she shared with me how many people who were learning to be therapists, including her, went through some very powerful emotional release or had memories of traumatic events surface as they practice bodywork on each other.
So in this blog entry, the author writes, and this is a quote, a client of mine had been in a violent car accident were in her vehicle was t-boned and spun into a guardrail. She can remember the sounds and the eerie slow-motion sights of turning to see the oncoming car. However, her body sensory receptors were also recording the entire event. Her probe receptive sense noted the feeling of turning to her left, and her nociceptor recorded the jarring pain of the impact. And her touch receptors could feel the pressure of the seat belt. So, when she felt a familiar pressure down on her left shoulder, while her head was turned to the left during the massage, her body was sending sensations to her brain that caused her to remember the accident.
Actually, as it happens with many body memories, she did not consciously remember the accident. Rather, she has had a sudden rush of emotion with no rational understanding of its source. What she reported feeling was a sudden sense of dread approaching the panic end of the quote.
Now a link to this blog in the show notes. But I wanted to share that part of it with you because this is everything when it comes to emotional health. Understanding that the triggers and rushes of emotions are red flags, that something needs to be dealt with, something needs attention. And they are not things to be ashamed of and to try to bury in your body. This is critical to your healing.
Now, you would think that when women come to me after breast cancer is to learn how to eat better, have a healthier life, how to exercise, because they want to be healthy, and they don't want to have a recurrence. But that's actually the easy stuff. In fact, when diet and exercise are difficult, it's because your mind isn't in the right place. I see this happen all the time. And I'm sure if you think about it, you've either seen this happen with yourself in your own life or with people around you at some point in your life. They need to make a lifestyle change. They say they want to make a change, and they talk about that change, they talk about how much they need that change. And yet they don't make it happen. They may try and not follow through, or just talk about it and really not even try at all.
But then, one day...BAM!
Something clicks, they have this moment of clarity, and their thinking begins to align with the person they want to become, and it is game on from that point. It is brought on the change that brings on everything. I'm all over this. Now that's the primary space that I work with survivors. And even though we address food and activity, we address it from the perspective of how you think about it. Why you make the choices you do and why you have the thoughts you have. You are then learning how to create more intentional thoughts that help you align your actions with the person you want to be.
Because here's the kicker, when you decide to eat better in order to support your health, what's the first thing you have to do? You have to get toxic crap out of your body, right? Out of your diet, you get that stuff out so that you feel better, your gut works better, your brain is less cloudy, and your joints hurt less.
Well, you have to get that toxic stuff out of your head as well, in order to be successful in the long term, healthy lifestyle practices, eating, and moving. Because you don't have negative thoughts about yourself and tell yourself you're worthless and dumb and undeserving. And then treat yourself like a goddess. It doesn't work like that. When you think of yourself as weak, powerless, and incapable. You do not treat yourself like a priority. And you don't value your life for the treasure that it is. You don't bask in the joy. Because you are weighed down by the heaviness, that is the emotionally unhealthy weight in your mind.
Just like an overweight body is uncomfortable to be in, you know, it doesn't move as freely it doesn't feel as light. So, it is with an overweight mind. A mind filled with toxic thoughts and expectations. Do you know what I mean? Expecting the worst and dreading the future things that weigh you down. They feel heavy. That's what I call an overweight mind.
I read these statistics on the website called mental health in America, and I want to share them with you because I think this is really telling. It's been an average of 80% of Americans have experienced emotional abuse. Approximately three-quarters of the US employees have or have had a toxic boss to a 2018 survey from monster.com. And this one really gets me toxic friends are common. In a study conducted by today.com and self magazine, they found that 84% of the 18,000 women surveyed and 75% of the 4,000 men reported having a toxic friend at some point in their life.
That is way too much, you guys.
When you're in a healthy mental state of being and you understand and create healthy boundaries for yourself, you don't let people treat you like that. You don't have frenemies because you know you deserve better. And that, in my opinion, is the root of good health. It all starts with mental wellness, valuing, and having compassion for yourself.
So I wanted to talk about mental health on this show because I want to begin to shift the paradigm. I want you to think differently about what is happening in your mind from a healthy and intentional perspective. And I'm not talking about severe mental illness here, which this the kind that needs actual professional help. I'm talking about just elevating and maintaining your day-to-day mental wellness.
If you feel like you have a situation that is beyond that or is beyond your control, please reach out to a licensed medical professional because you are worth that level of care. And it's so, so, so, important. All right.
So I want to talk for a minute about how we look at mental health, and how you can look at it as a positive thing. And then I'll talk about some things you can do to support your mental health. So as someone who has had cancer, you know that when there's something going wrong in your physical body, you seek help, whether it's a pain, disease, injury, or all the above, because if you're in physical pain, it scares you, right, you don't want to be forever debilitated. You don't want to die. And it affects your body and so many other levels.
Physical illness unquestionably affects mental health. When you're in pain, or you're ill, you may have a hard time sleeping, you might lose their appetite, you might overeat, you might under eat, you might find it hard to motivate yourself to do anything.
But when you're mentally distressed when your mental wellness is not in a good place, here are some things that it can do to your body. And this is just the shortlist headaches, memory problems, increased blood pressure, decreased bone density, increased risk of diabetes, lower immunity, digestive problems, heartburn, constipation, and there's a much, much longer list.
So when we look at it like this, you can see that health is holistic, it encompasses all of you. And breast cancer treatment takes a huge physical toll. But it also takes a huge mental toll, that feeling of being off or not yourself after treatment, that comes from the way you're thinking about what has happened to you.
In a 2019 Forbes article, I think this point is beautifully made the point about the way we look at mental health. The author, David Banner, says that physical illnesses looked at separately from the person. It's as if this thing is attacking you, right? This is happening to you. And then you go to a doctor to try to stop it. But he says if your mental wellness suffers, the common perception is there's something wrong with you. And that's why you ignore it.
You tell yourself, I shouldn't feel like this, or I just need to snap out of it. Even your support circle and your co-workers might see that your physical body survived, and they just assume you're all good, and it's a celebration.
The psychological impact, it doesn't even dawn on them because they haven't experienced it. So why would that we just don't consider it? And here's especially in the United States, it's just not something we talk about people's mental wellbeing. And so that makes you feel even more ashamed of your struggle to try to be mentally healthy.
So I want to offer another way to think about your mental health. I want you to think about if you have high blood pressure or high blood sugar, and there are lifestyle changes you need to make, but you need to learn about them. Right, you're not sure of the right things to do. You just know that you're physically ill. You need to understand how to implement the changes into your life, or you need someone to help you set up a system for success, whether it's from books or coaches or trainers or nutritionists.
So you collect information, you begin to understand how your body reacts and how your life needs to change in order to accommodate your new healthier lifestyle choices. You don't just say to yourself, Oh, what? I shouldn't have a high cholesterol body, and now you just need to get your act together. Like, Come on. (**snapping fingers) And I'm snapping on a podcast. I don't know how well that translates. But, you know, I'm saying.
We don't just look at our body go nope, nope, you shouldn't feel like that body and ignore it. You take action, and you work on it. Right?
I'd like you to look at your mental health the same way. So, you know, sugar, white flour, and highly processed foods undermine your physical body's health. But what undermines your mental health? Are its toxic relationships? Like the I mentioned a minute ago? And how many people have a frenemy? Is it telling yourself that you shouldn't feel the way that you do? Is it being stuck in fear? Or knowing that you don't feel right, but not knowing the next step to take? Is it the fact that you don't have healthy boundaries? And you allow yourself to be exhausted by other people around you?
So think of your mind as you would your body? What is causing this feeling of discomfort? And then what can I do to change that? What help do I need? What support can I get what resources are available, rather than just saying, oh, I shouldn't feel this way and just ignore it?
Because you know what, you shouldn't have had cancer either, right? But you did. And you didn't hide from it. So, when it's something in your mind, don't hide from that either. There is nothing wrong with you, you have just had a set of circumstances that you didn't know how to think about or adjust to. And because you can't align that experience with what you believed life should be, you feel mentally unwell. Knowing that you can take the next steps to heal your mind, without shame and without self-judgment. And remembering to take a holistic approach because when you treat your body, you treat your mind and the other way around.
So the number one easiest thing you can do to support your mental wellbeing is to get your body moving on a daily basis. And that is not about weight loss. Don't roll your eyes and be like aah, geez, here we go again, exercise.
It's so important moving your body has a direct effect on your brain. It increases blood flow, oxygen delivery, and it is a catalyst for other factors that contribute to the neurological connections in your brain.
When you go out for a walk, do you ever come back and say, ugh, God, that was awful? No, you always say, Oh, God, I'm so glad I did that, I'm so glad I got out. It's wonderful. And taking a break for yourself to move your body can give your brain that space that it needs to get off the grid, get off the phone, to be in a little quiet space where the body is moving and creating a good chemical cascade. And you can gain more awareness of what it is that you need to help yourself feel better.
It's always in that quiet space. Right?
This is the shower moment philosophy. We talk about, oh, wow, I just had this idea while I was in the shower. Well, what is it about a shower that inspires people to be creative?
Well, finally, your brain has a break from all of the other stimuli around you're just hanging out taking a shower. It's not looking at a phone, it's not looking at a TV, it's not reading a report on the computer. It's just having a little bit of chill time. And bam, here you go, the thought starts to come up.
So taking that break for yourself and giving your brain that mental break while your body takes over and does the work is really, really important.
So in Psychology Today, there was an article that said increasingly robust evidence suggests that exercise is not only necessary for the maintenance of good mental health, but it can be used to treat even chronic mental illness. That's pretty powerful stuff, you guys. So even when you tell yourself, you don't feel like it, you've got to commit to yourself to move your body daily for your mental wellbeing just like you commit to yourself to eat well for your physical wellbeing. And, and that's not limited. Eating well is great for your mental wellbeing also because you get all that crap out of your body and your brain can function better.
Harvard health publishing says that exercise activates frontal regions of the brain that are responsible for executive function, which helps control the area of your brain called the amygdala, which is our reacting system to real or imagined threats to our survival.
Now, that is super important, not from a delusional perspective, but from the view that we make up a lot of stuff in our heads. So when is the area of our brain that's reacting to real or imagined threats, receives a benefit and we are able to elevate its functions, then we can have more control over the things that create anxiety for us.
And those are typically the stories that we make up about what might happen, what other people think, what we're supposed to do, all that stuff we make up in our head. And exercise helps you to move past that.
I was listening to this podcast the other day and I heard a statement that I thought was awesome. She was talking about the concept of feeling bad because you didn't do what you're supposed to do. And she said, you know, it isn't what you're supposed to be doing that's important, but what you intend to do.
So when you're telling yourself, you're not good enough, you're doing the wrong things, everything is your fault because things didn't go the way they were supposed to. Or you weren't able to do what people expected that you were supposed to, that is all undermining your mental wellbeing.
So it's important to make a note of this and ask yourself, what was my intention here? Yeah, I told myself, that's what I was supposed to do. But what did I want to do? What was my intention? What did you intend to do? And how did you intend for things to be? How do you intend to feel emotional, mentally, and not? How does someone else tells you you're supposed to feel he got to tune into that. And you may not even know he may say, well, I don't even know how I intend to feel awesome.
That's a great place to start, getting some clarity around how you intend to feel.
So move your body, this is an important way to support your mental wellbeing and reach out for support. You know, companionship, even dogs, cats, pets, those things are great for feeling loved, especially in this isolating time of being in quarantine, even though we're opening to some degree here in California and I know, other states are opening around our country and other countries around the world are reopening a little bit, there's still a lot of isolation, a lot of fear, and resistance to you know, full functioning again.
So having someone close to you, family members, spending time with people that you love, pets, and connecting. That also is very, very helpful for good mental wellbeing. But reaching out for support is something that's critical. So, we only have so many tools in our tool chest, right, we've been taught X amount of things in life, this is how you deal with things.
So when you're struggling with something that you've never struggled with, before, sometimes a fresh perspective, a new insight, or just someone letting you know that it's okay to take your time, and sort out space you're in can be super helpful. Just having that support, and the acknowledgment that you're okay, and that it's okay to stay in the space you're in until you can figure out how to work through it.
So if you don't know how to lose weight, you turn to someone who's done it and you say, hey, teach me. If you don't know how to get out of a dark place, in your mind, do the same thing. Reach out to someone who's done it or who knows how to guide people through that space. I'm going to link to some really valuable websites that offer survivor support in the show notes for this episode. And you can find them at thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/106. And I really encourage you to check those out. Now, of course, you can also join the breast cancer recovery group, that's my free Facebook group. It is for breast cancer survivors whose focus is on moving forward and creating a joyful and empowered life for themselves. You can find that just by searching Facebook, it's called the breast cancer recovery group.
And honestly, just that you're listening to this podcast is a great step for you. It's a great step because there are so many things I talked about in the podcast and action steps I give you that if you take those with you, and you actually do the work, that's a tremendous benefit right there. You are reaching out for support, and you're building your toolbox.
Also, you know what comes to the webinars in October, I'm going to give you great information. It's totally free. It's one hour long, there are four different types to choose from. So, come to a webinar and get some new insights from someone else who is a survivor from the other survivors that will be on there. And that can really, really help you I get great feedback from these webinars and a lot of women find tremendous value in them. So, I hope you'll join me for one of those.
And a very powerful program is Revivify.
So if you really want that, that really strong support a community and coaching all along the way, go to my website, join Revivify we kick it off October 12. And you will be amazed at the transformation that this program offers. So, the most important thing though, is that you take an honest inventory of the way you think about your own mental health. And then give yourself a break in give yourself permission to accept the fact that there's nothing wrong with you because you're struggling to feel mentally well.
In fact that you can ignore knowledge, that very thing is a step toward awareness. And awareness leads to action. So, once you have clarity on that, and you've given yourself permission and acknowledgment that it's okay. And then it's okay to seek help with it, then you can take action to move you forward and relieve that pain. And that's what I want for you, my friend. All right.
Well, I am really looking forward to the month of October, it's packed. And you know, October is an interesting month. I was just speaking to my Revivify group about this last week, because October for me before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was always touching because I would see all the pink and all the ribbons and all the celebrations and the pictures of the bald women. And I would just think, wow, you know, that's a really powerful message.
And then, after I had breast cancer, I realized that October was really frickin scary, that a lot of those things that I thought were powerful before I was diagnosed are powerful. And they're powerfully scary because we're kind of trying to scare people into taking action, getting mammograms going to the doctor, you know, checking themselves. And a lot of times, sadly, we're motivated by fear.
So we kind of scare people with some really frightening stories, inspiring, but frightening, nonetheless. So, for me, it's really important to put out a lot of fun and support in October for my group, my community, my survivors. And that's every single one of you, who has had a diagnosis of breast cancer and is still alive to listen, this podcast.
We need support, encouragement, positive stories, inspiration, and forward-thinking, especially in the pink month.
So I'm going to put on a lot of great stuff you are going to hear from some super cool survivors about some really unique things that I know some of you struggle with, as survivors, and we're going to talk about those in the month of October, as well as doing webinars opening Revivify. And having a super fun challenge on week two of October, so hang in there, keep coming back. And if you enjoy the show, please take a moment, leave a rating and a review wherever you listen, the iTunes Store, just click right on your phone, wherever you're listening, scroll down to the bottom. And it'll tell you right there to leave a rating and a review for the show. It's super easy to do, but it still takes a little extra time.
However, I appreciate it so much, I can't even tell you. So, it makes this show that much easier for other survivors to find. And it's just very, very helpful overall. So, thanks for listening and thanks in advance for taking the time to leave ratings and reviews.
And I look forward to seeing you at an October webinar. Again, that's thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/October to sign up for one of those. I'll talk to you again next week. And until then be good to yourself and expect other people to be good to you as well.