#337 Breast Cancer, Stressors and Stress - How to Support Yourself When Life is Stressful

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When you grow up in a world where you’re taught that other people embarrass you, hurt you, make you angry, etc. That translates into having no power over your emotions and living with a lot of stress. 

But what if you could recognize circumstances for what they are and decide to regulate your emotions on purpose? 

That’s when you start creating a life by design. 

A life that’s better than before breast cancer™ 

In this episode, I’ll share my personal journey through a stressful day and the challenge of coming back to caring for myself in the middle of the storm. 

I’ll walk you through the process I’ve learned to use to support myself and equally as important, how to know when you’re making yourself sick with stress so you can be there for yourself. 


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Read the full transcript:

You're listening to better than before breast cancer with the breast cancer recovery coach. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm a certified life coach, and I'm a breast cancer thriver. In this podcast, I will give you the skills and the insights and the tools to move past the emotional and physical trauma of a breast cancer diagnosis. If you're looking for a way to create a life that's even better than before breast cancer, you've come to the right place. Let's get started. Hey, friends, welcome to episode 337. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I hope you are ready for some a raw episode today because that's what y'all got common. This is actually my first table I got back yesterday from a conference, the changing life and destiny conference. And I had an amazing time. I learned a lot of great stuff. I met incredible people. I came back like this floaty inspired, I literally have pages of notes on things that I want to podcast about on things I want to include in my courses on things I want to do workshops on. And you may have heard yourself say this before, I had a really stressful day. Right? I hear people say that all the time. And you know what I say? Let's think about the language. There were some stressors, and what did you make them mean to you? All right. I want to preface that with you because I'm going to take you on a little journey. You know, one of the things that stood out to me as a theme of this whole conference, and you're going to hear me talk about this a lot more in some upcoming episodes is just the energy of things. Now, this is our Tuesday terrain talk. So what does energy have to do with anything? Everything, it has everything to do with everything, the energy of love, the energy of community, the energy of companionship, the energy of stressors, the energy of aggressive people, the energy of toxic relationships, toxic people, and the energy of unhealthy boundaries. Those have so much impact on our health. I can't even it's it's mind boggling. It's mind boggling. And I'm talking about that today. And sort of what I was intending to talk about today, because I went through this today it's real, it's raw, it's on my mind. And I know, you all go through this. And it needs to be talked about. So last Friday, there was a situation was one of my children. And my child needed some help. And this been happening for a couple of days, there was back and forth on what I could do. And I was able to help. So I thought everything was resolved as a Friday. So have a lovely weekend. And I wake up this morning, and I go back to my reformer class. And I went and got a Hydration Boost. And I had an acupuncture treatment. And I'm coming back home to do some work and record some podcasts. And I start getting messages. So this situation with my child had a third party involved. And this third party is messaging us. And this third party is very aggressive and very threatening. And what I thought was resolved, was not resolved. But because I stepped in, and I decided to assist. I felt like I needed to participate in this resolution, right? This is all going to come full circle. And I know you can identify with this, right? Because especially when it comes to people we love, and especially when it comes to our children, I don't care how old your child is, if you're a mama, we go into Mama Bear mode. And we've got to check ourselves sometimes we've got to check ourselves when we are overstepping our own healthy boundaries. So let me tell you where this is leading. At about 130 This afternoon, I started to realize my chest was so tight. My head felt pressured, I felt like I was on the verge of tears, right. Everything was just like so constricted. Because I was trying to resolve this situation. And this very aggressive person that I was dealing with. I did not want to show up like that. I did not want to be aggressive because that's not how I want to behave. But at the same time I want to say I'm just gonna say it now I want to say gotta hate that person. Right? You see someone who thinks this person is making things so much harder than they have, it has to be. But we have to stop. So what happened is I stopped and I realized, oh my god, I'm literally making myself sick right now. I can feel it. It's intense. I feel it in my body, I feel it in my chest, I feel it in my throat, I feel it in my stomach. I feel like I'm on the verge of tears. And then I thought to myself, hold on. What would you say if you were talking to one of your clients? And I would say what I said a minute ago, okay. There's a circumstance, what's the circumstance? And I wrote out that circumstance, right? This person said these words. What was my responsibility? What did I make that mean? Right? So especially when we're stressing out about our children, or someone we love and someone we want to help? There's oftentimes like, in this situation where there was only so much I could do, right, I had a role, I could fulfill that role. I did fulfill that role. And then I just kept going, right? I just kept going with the circumstances, instead of stopping myself and saying, Listen, I did what I could do. It's done. I'm done. I'm not going to keep going with this and make myself sick. Right. Now, this is harder if we're talking about young children, but I have adult children. And I know that a lot of us mamas still do this with our adult children. We make ourselves sick. So this afternoon, I started to realize that and I could feel a lot of emotion. And here's the thought process that comes up, right? Have you ever found yourself in this situation where you're feeling super emotional, you're like, Why do I want to cry? What am I going to cry about? And I caught myself thinking that and I thought, it doesn't matter why. What's true is true. And that's how I feel right now. And, and I realized, as I thought about it, am I allowed the tears to flow? And I realized, I just need to let go, some fear and some anger right now. Right? There was fear, there was anger, there was frustration, which frustration is just, you know, a stepchild of anger. And I thought, That's all in me right now. And I'm not expressing it. Because I don't want to address the situation with you know, anger, vulgarity aggressiveness, like this other person. That's not how I like to resolve things. And yet the emotions were there, right? That's not how I want to show up. But the emotions are there. And so it's kind of like you're unconsciously kind of stuffing in the moment, right? Because, you know, I don't want to show up like a Screaming Banshee. That's not me. And yet my instincts are trying to push me in that direction, right? You know what I'm saying? So in that moment, I realized, like, you know, what, I want to cry, because I've been holding an emotion all morning long, trying to stay calm, trying to handle the situation calmly, but the emotion is still there. And I need to release it, I need to let it go. I need to just be with myself for a moment and releases. Now stop pause, I'm going to give you a little history. I have said and actually so I heard this, I think first from nation winters, you cannot get well in the same terrain in which you got sick. And I expand that to say, you cannot get well in the same life in which you got sick. And when I looked back, and I asked myself, Why do I think I got cancer? There are a couple of situations that happened in those couple of years before my stage four diagnosis. And one of them a major factor was the amount of stress I put on myself over circumstances that were happening to my children. At that time before my diagnosis. I wasn't sleeping. I wasn't eating, I was super stressed. There were a lot of things happening with my kids. And my mind was focused on them. So I was making their circumstances mean things to me. And what do we make circumstances mean? So for instance, this situation with my son today, could I have stopped and said, Listen, I've done all I can do.

Laura Lummer 9:15
That's all I can do in it, and I'm stepping away in whatever is going to happen now is going to have it right. Yes, I could have said that. I did end up saying that to myself. But for the whole morning. It's like I wasn't even aware of it. Right? I was just in this I need to fix this mode. I need to help I need to fix this. I have a responsibility here. And the reason I share that is because as a part of my healing journey, and as a part of me learning about processing emotions, releasing stress, my relationship with my children, and my view of my children's lives and what I make their lives and events in their lives mean to me has been a big part of that process. As I've had to work a tremendous amount on allowing my adult children to be adults, and for me to hold space for who they are, and the journey that they're on. But today, I stepped into that space. Now, when I look back at before my diagnosis, and I think about the stress that I created for myself, did my kids have circumstances going on? Yes. Did my husband have circumstances going on? At the same time? Yes. Did I make those mean things to me? That made me sick? Yes. Could I have chosen something different? Yes. But I didn't know how, at that time, I didn't know how. And I would tell myself, you got to stop worrying about this. And people would say, you know, you need to just not worry about it. Well, how do you do that? You know, and now I'll coach people. And they'll say, This is what's going on with me. But I don't know how to let it go. I don't know what to do. And so I'm going to walk through what I did today, I'm going to walk through it because I think that it's super important one my life is not without stressors, and nor am I a person who doesn't create stress for myself, both of those things happen. It's not like when you start to work on your mind, and you start to work on the metabolic approach to health, meaning a holistic approach to your life. It's not like your brain all of a sudden, becomes like the Dalai Lama, right? You don't just start thinking in peace and joy and you don't have negativity, no, you catch yourself faster. And when you catch yourself, you implement the tools that you've learned, that helped bring yourself back to the moment, help release the stress you're creating for yourself as a result of circumstances, and allow yourself to come back to a state of calmness, okay? It is not easy. It is work and especially when your thoughts are tied to someone you love. And someone you love and feel the responsibility to take care of even though it is no longer your responsibility, because they're a grown up, right. But again, Mama genetics, right. So let me tell you, when I became aware, because in the moment in the morning, as things were unfolding, I was just kind of unfolding with them, right? Until at this one point in the day, I went, Oh my God, I feel horrible right now. Like I feel like a nervous breakdown right now. And that's when I stopped I went, What am I doing to myself? Not this situation is going to make me sick. This is my first tool. I know better. What am I doing to myself right now? Why am I allowing this to happen to myself right now, because we allow it. We allow our brain to create the story, we jump onto the story. I had a choice this morning, right? I could say I did all I could do. And I could choose to think it's all gonna work out and be just fine. And I'm letting this go. Or I could do what I did, which was that, but I did everything. But let me look again, let me let me check again, let me prove it to you. Let me show you this. Let me talk on and on until I went, Whoa, this is not okay. I do not feel okay right now. And I did stop. And that first tool is saying what am I making this mean to me? What am I doing to myself right now? I am feeling stressed. What does that mean? That means I am creating the emotion of stress from a neutral circumstance. And I don't want to do it right now. I do not want to feel like this. I do not want to do this to myself. And I had to sit down and intentionally and I'll tell you what, I sat down, took a deep breath and said, You need to get your shit together right now. So come back to this moment. Take a breath. And I did. I just went okay. I have done all I can do. I can do no more. I released this. Because it was true. I had done all I could do. I didn't just say that one time. I don't know how many times I said that. Because I was really tense and really nervous. But the truth was, it was it was I was not bullshitting myself. The truth was, I had done all I could do. I could do no more. I need to let this go. So it's not making me sick. And I sat there and I breathed into it. And I said that to myself over and over and over about 15 minutes. I just kept saying that to myself, until it started to sink in until the stress started to lower a little bit until I started to say let's just be here now and trust. Whatever is going to come from this now is out of my hands. And I just have to trust that it's all exactly the way it's supposed to be. I don't know why. I don't know what, but I must let it go for the sake of my health, that when I asked myself that question, what do I need to do today to support my body's ability to heal? today? It was, let that shit go that you are creating in your head, let go of that story. Step back. Ask yourself, is there anything else you can do? And if you can, then go ahead and do it. And if you can't, then let's use these tools and see what I'm making it mean to myself, and let it go. And as I did that, and as I sat there and said, I've done all I can do I release this over and over and over. And this is the thing, right? We've got to talk ourselves through things like people say to me, this is a lot of work. Yeah, it is. People say to me, that takes a lot of energy. Yes, it does. But let me tell you something, the energy that I put into that work for that time, once I became aware of what I was doing to myself, the energy, the emotion, and the time I put into letting that go, was nothing compared to the energy that I put in all morning long, making myself sick and had I not done that work and said, I am letting this go, I am just letting this go. Then the rest of the afternoon would have went like that. And I will tell you what, 35 minutes after I went through that, I got a text message. And it was all resolved.

Laura Lummer 16:42
So it did work out as I knew it would work out because everything works out somehow some way, maybe not the way we want it to work out. But why do we choose the story of the worst case scenario? And then run this Netflix original series? Instead of choosing peace? We make ourselves sick. What does this have to do with a Tuesday terrain talk? Stress, mental and emotional health and the energy we treat ourselves with and put out into the world and allow in? Right, so where did my boundary come into place? My boundary came in, where I didn't stop myself from interacting with a person who was acting very aggressive, right? I could have in that moment said, Whoa, Listen, I'm not going to engage with this person. I've already done all I could do. And it's all going to the cards are gonna fall however the cards fall, right. But I didn't honor my own boundary. I didn't even recognize it at first because I wasn't thinking about me. I wasn't thinking about what do I need in this situation to care for and protect myself? I was thinking, Oh, God, how do I have to fix this. So my child doesn't have to be under any stress, boom, giving tree mode, right? I talk about The Giving Tree when we give and we give them we give. And so we are an empty stump just left there for somebody to come and sit on. Right? So why do we do that? Because we're trained to do that, because we're conditioned to do that. And the trick is to be aware of when we're doing that, right to be aware of when we are not stopping first, even in a situation where many stressors exist, and saying to ourselves, okay, hold on, this situation can get real stressful here if I let it. So what do I need to do? And we kind of plan ahead. So I'll talk with clients a lot, who say, you know, there's a situation coming up, and they already are dreading that situation, because of someone who's going to be there are some circumstances is going to go down there that they already know for sure. It's gonna happen, right, the presence of someone else? And they say, What can I do to work on that and prepare myself and strengthen myself. So when I go into that situation, when I can enjoy myself, maybe in the circumstance where people around me have toxic relationships with too, so you don't get drawn into the drama. And that's a really important step. So when there's a lot of stressors going on in our lives, we must stop and recognize, first of all, what are you making those stressors mean to you? And how is what you're making them mean to you feeling in your body? Are you struggling to breathe? Do you feel like you're going to have a heart attack? Do you feel like your skin is crawling? Is your mind going 100 miles a minute. Noticing the things that happen in our body, when we are exposed to stressors is a huge benefit to us because it's a cue it's like a safe word, right? Anyone read shades Gray, it's a or what is it? 50 Shades of Grey 50 Shades of Grey, it's a safe word for ourselves. It's like, Oh, hold on, when my chest is tight, and my heart is pounding and my skin is crawling, I'm taking the stressor and making it stressful to me. That's my cue to stop. Because you got to stop, you got to create space for yourself in that moment, you have to stop and say, who hold on, step back, what's going on here. And you must, in that moment, decide to take care of yourself. It is absolutely critical. So if we want to reduce stress in our life, we have to learn to look at stressors through a different lens, we have to understand what we allow stressors to do to us, because of our stories about them. And we have to learn the tools to support ourselves when our mind goes to those stories, because it will, it always will. And it's never I hear a lot of people say I don't want to think like that anymore. Well, me too. But we don't just get to stop thinking, the thoughts come up. And what we have to do is recognize them, when we start that practice of recognizing them. And sometimes we don't recognize the thought until we recognize the powerful emotion we're experiencing. The emotion is always tied to a thought, right? The emotions I went through this morning, are not a result of the words that person typed in a text message. They were the result of what I made those words mean, to me. That's what made me stress. And I can tell you that for sure. Because when I sat down and decided to take care of myself, and decided to look at those words through a different lens, they no longer made me sick to my stomach. When I looked at them and said, Not my circus, not my monkeys, I'm not doing that to myself anymore today. Those words didn't carry the same meaning. So this phrase in itself, I think is a good red flag for us. A good buzzword, I'm so stressed out. We say this all the time. It's just like, it's such a common phrase. And when we're stressed out, what do we want to do, we want to turn to a buffer with a buffer, an external thing to make us feel better. So I will tell you before I sat down and decided to take care of myself, and even in those few moments after when I was still feeling very raw, when I was still because you're tentative, right? You notice something's happening and you implement the tools that you know, I'm aware. Let me look at my story. Let me decide to change that story. Let me see if there's any action I can take here. Let me decide whether or not I'm going to let this go. If I am going to let this go. How am I going to do it? I have to change my story. In order to release this emotion. Also, am I going to allow emotion to come out to to relieve, you know, to come out and relieve the stress? The anxiety, the anger? Am I going to let the tears come out? Yes, they are a form of release. And they're so important. But I'll tell you as and then you're you're right there. And you don't just suddenly go, Okay, I feel better. That's great. Now, no, you like, Okay, you start to feel a little pressure release, right? It's like anybody who uses an instant pot or pressure cooker. Right? The pressure starts to release, and it comes out full blast at first, right. And if you haven't released that pressure, if you're not in the habit of allowing your emotions to come out, boy, when they come out, it's like that first when you do the instant release on a pressure cooker foo full steam. But as more and more lets out the steam lessons and lessons. And that's the same thing when we step into caring for ourselves. And we start to go, No, this is not okay with me the way I'm making myself feel is not okay. And we decide I'm going to I'm going to hold space for this emotion. I'm going to cry, I'm going to recognize I'm letting go of some fear here. I was afraid something bad would happen. I'm letting go some anger. I'm pissed off at the way that person talked to me. I'm pissed off at the way I let that person talk to me. I'm pissed off that I engaged with that person speaking to me that way, right? And recognize it. That's how you process it. People say how do you do it? That's how you do it? No, no, I'm hitting my microphone. By recognizing it, releasing it, allowing the emotions to come out with it. Then you're in a state where like, Okay, I'm starting to feel better. Right? I'm starting to notice that tension is decreasing. The steam flow isn't as intense, but I'm not by any means. You know, farting rainbows like a unicorn. I'm still feeling raw. And in that moment, here was my thought. I'll tell you exactly what it was. I wanted to call my husband and say, Hey, I'm not cooking. Tonight, we're gonna go to my favorite Italian restaurant, and fuck it. I'm gonna have pasta and a glass of red wine. That was in my mind. That's what I wanted to say. Again, what's the tool, recognize it, recognize that desire to buffer to turn to an external thing to make yourself feel better. And I recognized Well, that's really interesting. That's really interesting. This thought that's coming to me now, because I'm feeling raw. And I don't want to feel raw, I want to feel better. So I want to turn to pasta and wine. Noticing that? Am I going to choose that for me? Is that taking care of myself is that going to support my health is not going to support my healthy body? It's absolutely not recognize it's a desire to feel better, faster. I want to feel better now. Right. Now. Give me some Gorgonzola pasta. Right? In

Laura Lummer 25:58
again, we just become aware, look at the desires that come up, look what the brain says. And it's nothing wrong with the brain saying that totally makes sense. Would it feel delicious and warm and comfy? Yeah. Would I regret it? I would, because that's not what I want to do to myself right now. That's why it makes it a buffer. A buffer has a net negative effect, means you turn to a buffer to feel good. And in the moment, when you're enjoying it might feel good. But when you're done, it feels worse than before. Because now you've got the raw emotions. And now you're stacking shame, guilt and regret on top of the pasta, you just washed down with a glass of wine or two, right? So this is part of the process recognize, wow, look at the desire, I have to turn to something to make me feel better. What if I can allow myself to just stay here and be raw for a little bit? What do I need now to support myself, I'll tell you what I needed. It's like I need to drink some water. I need something cool and calming. I need some water. And I need to walk outside. It happens to be a lovely sunshiny day here. And I just said I need to be outside. I need to feel fresh air. I need to feel sunshine on me. I need to have that energy of grounding, right being in nature. And so I did I leashed up the dogs and I walked outside. And I allowed myself to just be out there another 15 minutes. And just breathe it in see the water? Taking the sunshine recognize how good that made me feel right. Now, is that a buffer? No, because does going out and doing something stopping my day and say Monday get some sunshine, I'm gonna look at the water. And they're taking a breath of fresh air because that's going to make me feel really good right now. And it's going to support my health, it's going to move me further away from the impulse, the urge to call my husband and say, let's go get pasta and wine, right? It's going to calm me down. And it's going to serve me better. So all in all, honestly, from the moment I became aware of what I was doing to myself, it was probably a good hour of time. And I needed to take that hour. Now people say oh, you can't just do that all the time. And that may be true. And it may not be true. Maybe that's another story. You tell yourself. Maybe you can take that time, maybe you can say to your boss, to whoever to whatever commitment you have, you know what, I've had something come up. And I'm going to have to reschedule. I've had something come up. And I'm going to have to use some personal time right now. I mean, and then we'll have we'll run the stories of why we can't do that. I can't do that, you know, I'm not worth that. It's not a vacation, nobody's sick, I don't have to go to the emergency room. But that's not true. Somebody is sick, somebody is not feeling well. And that's you. And someone needs to take care of you. And that is also you. So when we find ourselves in these very stressful situations is especially when they concern the people we love. And we notice how bad we're feeling. We must stop and say I have to take care of myself right now. I must take care of myself right now. And then we've got to take the time and put the energy into it because you are worth it. You are worth it, I am worth it. And if we don't do it, we will never break out and create the life that's better than before breast cancer because we'll stay in the same habits and the same beliefs and the same stories that we got sick in to begin with. So that's all I have for you today. I hope someone needed to hear it as much as I needed to say it. I think this podcast is a big part of my healing because I get to release all this stuff out Hear, but I know there's someone out there who can identify and that this resonates with, because we all have people we love, and people we worry about and what is worried, let's talk about what's Worry, worry is running a story that the worst case scenario is going to happen. Worry is make believe. Right? What I did to myself this morning for about three hours was make believe. It was me deciding that the worst outcome was going to happen. If I didn't fix it, instead of just allowing myself to trust, to trust me to trust the universe to trust, I dunno, I can. And I can let this go now, right? That my friends is a practice. Why do you go to coaches? for that? Did I schedule a coaching session today? Hell yes, I did. I have a coaching call on my schedule. And I made notes even about what I went through, because this is the work, right not to relive it like I'm not going to be stressful again. And quite honestly, when my husband comes home today, and you'll say How was your day because he always does. And I will make a conscious decision not to relive the stressful story. And what I'll share with him, as you know, there was a lot going on this morning, and I realized I was getting super stressed out. So here's what I did, I'll share the part where I took care of myself, because I don't want to recreate the stressful emotions that I was already creating for myself. So this is another way we care for ourselves. Lots of times something negative will happen. You know, I worked in retail for many, many, many years. And there was always a saying in retail that when someone has a good experience, maybe if you're lucky, they'll share that with one person. But if someone has a negative experience, on the average, they'll share that with nine other people. Think about that? How often do you have a negative experience that you share over and over and over again. And in doing so create that emotion for yourself over and over and over again. So part of that self care routine is noticing, whoa, I am taking a stressor. And I am making stress out of it. And I'm creating stress for myself, then I recognize it, use my tools to take care of myself decide to let it go. And then decide to let it be done. Decide to let it be in the past. Right? Why not put the energy into where you are now. And how you took care of yourself now, and leave the storytelling to you know, I didn't have a great experience then. But I'll tell you what, I learned how to take care of myself. And this is what I did. And now I'm fine. And now I'm good. And now I don't need pasta and glass of wine either, you know, I took care of myself. So we step into this practice. And then we reduce the stress response in our body. We reduce the Cormode cascade that that stress response causes, we reduce the actions that lead us to buffers that undermine our health and our healthy lifestyle. And we learn to love ourselves, which is healing, right? Does that mean life will be without stressors? No. Does that mean you won't ever feel stressed? No, you'll feel it, you'll recognize it, you'll help yourself. And you'll change it. And as you practice that the gap between the stressor and recognizing you're creating stress will get smaller and smaller and smaller. So instead of a situation like I had today, carrying on as I talk about it for a week to everybody that I know, it's done now, and I've let it go. I hope that that helps you maybe to let go of something you need to let go of today to friends of you need help with that, you know, you can find me at the breast cancer recovery coach.com where I do personal coaching, and group coaching with a ton of amazing resources in my better than before breast cancer life coaching membership. And if you want to bring in all of the other metabolic approaches into that working on your emotions and relieving stress and you want to include all the other things, I have metabolic health coaching packages that include all of that too. And the important thing to take away from this is that if you know you need it, you know? So what are you going to do about it? When are you going to take care of yourself the way you deserve to be taken care of and give yourself what you need. I hope you do it today. I'll talk to you again soon. Take care


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