If there’s anything that goes against human nature, it’s isolation.
Human beings are social creatures and although we all have different ways we like to interact or different amounts of social engagement that we’re able to tolerate, for the most part, to maintain a healthy mentality we need to have social interaction and we need to feel valued.
In this show you’ll hear about ways that you can address feeling of loneliness that you may be experiencing and I’ll give you resources and options to help you build connections, and find stimulation, value and engagement while staying safely at home.
I’ll also talk about simple actions you can take if you’re feeling fearful and overwhelmed by isolation and worry over your own immunity and vulnerability.
We live in a world where technology can help us bridge the gap of social distancing and allow us to shift the way we approach connecting and giving back to our community.
Listen in for some great tips and free resources to help you manage this or any other difficult time in your life.
Dreamboard Social Club
Read Full Transcript Below:
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 Episode 82 of the breast cancer recovery coach Podcast. I am your host, Laura Lummer. And I'm so glad that you made the time to download the show and listen in today.
So, I want to jump right into this because man do we have a lot going on in the world today in our lives. today. So, I just want to obviously acknowledge that and talk about the fact that, you know, there's a lot of fear happening right now, at the time of this recording.
I live in Southern California, I am losing track of time, but I'm pretty sure we're ending week three of our social isolation social distancing here.
And, you know, there's a lot going on, there's a lot of uncertainty, there's a lot of fear. And I just wanted to touch from a minute on a couple of resources, because I know things that are on my mind and on minds of people that I talk with. And I'm happy to see that we have some economic support coming out.
So, there's economic support in the form of businesses, small business loans, and which end up actually being grants. And I'm actually hearing some good things about employment benefits being sped up and, and the amount increasing and I just want to recognize that when we're going through cancer treatment, when we're going through a pandemic, which we're all just learning about right now to, you know, anytime there's some kind of crisis that it, it's scary enough, but when finances are involved, it gets even more unsettling.
And so I want you to know that in the show notes for this episode at Laura lummer.com/82, I will post a link to a page that has a lot of resources on it for you for financial resources that you can check into for yourself and for more support during this pandemic.
Okay. So, another factor that we have to learn to manage and come to terms with during this time and also during, again, I mentioned this last week, but during times of going through treatment for breast cancer is social isolation. And I want to dig into this social isolation and some of the aspects of it today, because it is really tough for a lot of people.
And again, as I talked about, just briefly on last week's episode, social isolation can bring back a lot of memories or flashbacks or whatever you want to call them of being in cancer treatment.
And for some of you listening now, you may have just wrapped up your treatment and being socially isolating yourself because of that treatment. And now you're thrown right back into this social distancing and isolation because of the pandemic. And so that can be really tough to manage.
So, I want to look at this social isolation from a couple of different perspectives. And I also want to offer you some ideas and resources to support you through this and help you to manage it a little more easily.
Now, for some people, social isolation really isn't a big deal, because they have a tendency to be more introverted.
And I want to take a moment to address this idea of extroverts and introverts also bring some clarity to it. Many people have the misperception that introverts are shy people. And that's not necessarily true. The term introvert and extrovert actually refers to where people get their energy from, and not whether or not they're shy.
I think that this whole concept was developed by Carl Jung, if I'm not mistaken, pretty sure that's where it came originally stems from. introverted people actually recharge themselves when they're alone.
So, it's in that that time of quiet and that space for themselves, that they're actually able to kind of recharge their brain battery. They may be very personable and friendly people, they may not be shy people at all, but they need, and they enjoy their downtime, because being around other people tends to zap them up their energy. Whereas extroverted people on the other hand, get their energy and recharge themselves by being around other people. So, the longer they're alone, the more likely they are to fill zapped of energy.
So, think about it that could very well be a shy person. It could be a shy person who maybe isn't overtly interacting with other people, but actually enjoys seeing the engagement and feeling the energy of people being around them.
So, take me for instance, I'll use myself as an example, I do not have a shy bone in my body. I love to connect people to each other. And I love to connect with people. But I do need my downtime. It's critical for my ability to stay balanced and to feel like I have enough energy to be able to give back to others.
So, understanding this may make it a little bit easier to see how isolation can be more difficult for some people than it is for others.
But in addition to introverted extroverts, or even aside from these tendencies, is the simple fact that human beings are social creatures by nature.
So I'm going to try really hard not to hack this last name, but John Cacioppo, a Neuroscientist, and Psychologist At the University of Chicago, and the author of Loneliness, Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection said in a Forbes article titled Loneliness Can Kill You, that we survive and prosper, and our genes survive and prosper, only because we are socially connected to each other.
But even more interesting, I thought is that he says, regardless of how many friends or family you have around you, it is your perceived connection to others, that leads to your feelings of loneliness.
So, it's the way you see how you're connected, the way you feel how you're connected, and not necessarily how many people you have around you. He also says, you don't want to shut down these feelings of loneliness, but instead, you want to tune into them and use them as a trigger to kind of evaluate to look at and change, or take some kind of action to adjust your life in your relationship with others, in order to change your perception and feel more connected.
And we'll come back to that in just a moment, I'll talk with you about some steps that you can take, while you're physically isolated to be able to feel more connected.
First, I want to touch on the difference between two ideas here, loneliness, and boredom.
So, loneliness is that feeling of not being connected. Whereas boredom, according to John Eastwood, the Associate Professor of Psychology at York University, boredom is an unpleasant feeling that's associated with wanting to be engaged in satisfying and meaningful activities. But like loneliness, Eastwood says in a 2017 article in US News and World Report, boredom is also a motivator for change. Because when people are bored, they want something meaningful. They want to bring stimulation into their lives.
So, when you're locked down in a pandemic, or you're socially isolating because of your own compromised immune system? What can you do to manage loneliness and or boredom?
Well, I am happy to tell you that there actually is meaningful work you can do to give back and to stay connected to others while you stay safe at home. Now I'm going to post a link in the show notes for this episode again, it's at LauraLummer.com/82.
And it's a link to a website called nowthisnews.com. This website has some really cool opportunities that you can do, you can volunteer for from home.
So, things like becoming a listener with seven cups. So sevencups.com is a very cool resource where people who are feeling stressed can turn to a trained volunteer listener to help them through their rough spot and you actually can Volunteer on this website, go through the training and everything online and just be there to listen to other people and offer your support. And what better way to feel connected to someone else by helping them through a difficult time.
Now, if you feel like you need that support, also go to sevencups.com where you can interact free. This is all a free service with people who are trained listeners. And that's so important, right? There are so many times when we just need to be heard. But people actually have to be trained to listen to you, to not just be listening while they're concocting their next statement, they're going to make back but actually listen and hear you.
This is such an important skill set.
So, some very valuable training. If it's something you think might resonate with you in a service you can provide, definitely check out the link to that opportunity.
Also, seven cups. You may be thinking because I did when I first heard about this well what if this person is like, really in need of professional help. And just so you know, they do have paid professional help on there for people as well. And I'm sure they talk all about it in their training program. So that's an opportunity.
Also, the United Nations is looking for volunteers to work from their computers to help create educational videos for kids during the pandemic.
The Smithsonian is looking for volunteers to help with ledgers and logbooks and photo albums and manuscripts. And you can do all of that work from your computer.
So, in the resource that I'll post in the show notes are links to all of these opportunities. So, it's whatever, you know, we all have different interests and different things that excite us. So, there's lots of a wide range of opportunities, which I think is exciting.
There's also Joann's the fabric store, and I guess I would call it fabrics and crafts. They have a lot of stuff there. Joann's is spearheading a project to Make and give 100 million masks to healthcare workers. And they have a curbside system. They have online instructions. So, you can very safely participate. If you're crafty person and you'd like to make things.
This is a wonderful opportunity not just to provide that service, but to connect with other people who are providing that service.
You know, there's Facebook groups or people who have common interests in these kinds of things. And it can really help you to connect with people on a level of something that you're passionate about.
This is just a short list of important and meaningful things that you can safely do from your home, to stay connected, and to feel stimulated, and even more importantly, to get out of your own head. Because right now, there's just a tremendous amount of fear mongering going on. And although it's important to remain informed, it's Also important to keep things in perspective.
Following recommended safety guidelines like staying at home, washing your hands and social distancing. And understanding the resources that are available to you if you need financial support. All that is important.
But aside from that, try limiting the amount of time you spend reading and listening to news about the pandemic. Because in addition to feeling lonely or bored, there's a struggle with feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.
It's really important right now, especially right now, but at all times in your life, to be very intentional about how and where you direct your mental and emotional energy.
Your energy is a limited resource. And just as we need to recharge ourselves with that alone time or recharge ourselves with social time. We need to use our energy wisely. We need to understand when we have the most energy and you Use that time for creative or complex tasks, we need to understand how to create more quality energy with good food and physical activity.
And we need to recognize our own tendencies to get stuck in negativity, versus intentionally keeping your mind present and focused on what is happening in your life right now. I think it's interesting that for loneliness, boredom and overwhelm, the experts all recommend the same thing, at least in part, like the foundational go to thing is to just stop.
Just stop and tune in to your own intuition.
Get out of your head, and all the random thoughts running through it, and actually tune into yourself for a few minutes a day to listen to your own internal voice that actually does give your insight and direction if you take enough time to pay attention to it.
And the power of taking this time for yourself is so underestimated. But I ask you to take this little bit of extra time do this test, give it a trial run, because we have a little bit more time on your hands if you're not a healthcare worker or a grocer.
So, use that extra time to try for one week committing to yourself, to just take a little extra time for yourself. I'd love it if you committed for a month, but I'll take baby steps and to make this even easier for you.
And because I want to give you as much support as possible, I will give you the loving kindness meditation recording that I use in my Revivify program to help you begin this meditation practice taking this time for yourself, you can download that audio recording for free in the show notes area LauraLummer.com/82 and whether or not you download it, whether or not you use this meditation, I just want to address this idea a little deeper, the idea of taking a few minutes out of your day to calm your mind and concentrate on your breath.
Now, especially if you're experiencing a lot of fear as a result of the pandemic, or treatment for cancer, or waiting to get into a surgery, or any combination of the above.
The process of breathing is intimately linked to your nervous system. In fact, there's a great article that was published in Scientific American in January of 2019, called Proper Breathing Brings Better Health. Of course, there'll be a link to it in the show notes too.
But one of the many things that I loved in this article is that it acknowledges that breathing is the lowest common denominator in all approaches to calming the body and the mind. So, it's the go to right it's the foundation.
So, taking time for yourself and focusing on breath. And I know you know that this is correct, because what's the first thing, you say to someone who's very upset or very anxious? You say, take a breath, just breathe.
Without any thought without any training. It's a natural response for us to turn to calm ourselves or calm someone else when we see them very upset. Because when you consciously think about taking a breath, you bring your mind right here into this moment, because this is the only place where your breath exists right here, right now.
So, you distract your mind by saying, stop thinking about whatever it is that's causing you to go into a panic and focus on your breath. It brings you into the present moment.
In yoga and Ayurveda. The practice of breathwork is called Pranayama. And there are many different techniques that are used to create heat and awareness, or to bring balance to the body or simply to calm the mind.
But the fundamental idea is that by taking conscious control of your breath, you can change the state of your body and think about that.
When you are feeling fearful or anxious, what happens to your breath becomes fast and shallow, like we just talked about.
But by taking control of the breath, slowing it down and deepening it, you change the way your body feels. So, it works both ways.
Here's a quote from the Scientific American article, which again, I highly recommend you read this article because it's awesome. And because breathing is free, it's easy. It's convenient. It's all the things you want in something you can do to support your wellness.
So, Christophe André is a Psychiatrist at the Sainte-Anne Hospital Center in Paris and he's a pioneer in the therapeutic use of meditation in France. He's also the author of the bestselling book, Mindfulness: 25 Ways to Live in the Moment through Art, and he says that, “Breathing is so central to life that it is no wonder humankind long ago noted its value not only to survival, but to the functioning of the body and mind and began controlling it to improve well-being.” he goes on to say that, “Breathing, in particular, has a special power over the mind.”
So, whether you choose to sit in meditation where you notice and calm your breath, and this particular guided meditation that I'm offering you is a pretty active one.
So, for anybody who thinks that their mind is too active, to sit quietly, I encourage you to try this meditation and to try breathwork because both of these practices actually require you to be very aware of your mind.
Unlike the common misconception, that if you're going to meditate or if you're going to practice on breathing, you're supposed to be emptying your mind. It's not about emptying your mind, but actually paying attention to your breath, little flip of the switch there.
So, as another resource for Guided breathwork, I highly recommend checking out Tanya Saunders podcast called Dreamboard Social Club. And she does a guided breathwork practice every Sunday to help you get your mind in the right place for the week ahead. It's an incredibly valuable tool to do breathwork to do meditation.
And for those of you who have children, both of these practices are also great for kids. I mean, think about it. Kids are just little humans. They get anxious, they get fearful, they get overwhelmed in teaching them breathwork in active meditation practices is so helpful for their attention span, and for their own feelings of empowerment, of having the ability to calm themselves. So, don't prejudge their ability to participate in these kinds of activities. They can do it.
I think I was in fifth grade when my mom and dad started taking us to yoga classes, and transcendental meditation classes. And I have three siblings that are younger than me, we all went, we all participated. And that was before anything was geared towards kids. You know, everything was just about adults and they dragged us along.
But now, you can find kid yoga and meditations on YouTube in a hot second. So, don't let your kids be a deterrent. Try it for yourself and include them, it can be some fun.
Okay, so in summary.
if your perception is that you are lonely and disconnected, find something that feels valuable to you as a way of giving back and connecting to others. If you're feeling bored, there are ways for you to safely find stimulation and participate in valuable efforts needed right now in your community.
And that's not actually true just right now at the time of this recording, but in our very tech savvy world, there's always something you can do without leaving your home to help you feel like you're giving back and supporting others.
And if you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, in this time of a pandemic or at any crisis in your life, or even just any day that's overwhelming with a lot going on. Giving back to others will take your mind off your worries. It gives you something positive to focus on. And it directs your energy towards something else helps you to manage your energy in a more positive way.
And for any of those above scenarios, taking the time to focus on your breath, to redirect your mind into listen to your inner voice is the foundation of maintaining a healthy state of mind, in a crisis or at any other time in your life.
So, if you have more volunteer opportunities, and you'd like to share those with others, please come and find me on Facebook as Laura Lummer or join our private Facebook group, the breast cancer recovery group and share those opportunities with our community.
You know, there's a lot of anxiety there.
Our community is one of breast cancer survivors. So, some survivors are still in treatment, some survivors are waiting to go into treatment. And some survivors are trying to figure out how to get back to life. In all those scenarios, giving back contributing and connecting helps to calm the mind and helps to support our own wellness.
So, I would love to hear from you if you do have those opportunities.
So remember to download the loving kindness meditation in the show notes, and actually, you should be able to see the link to it wherever it is that you're listening to this podcast, but you can go to my website also LauraLummer.com/82 where you can check out all the resources on the show notes page for this episode.
If there's something else also that's on your mind that you really would like some support with, especially right now.
Please feel free to message me on Facebook or Instagram @thebreastcancerrecoverycoach on Instagram or Laura Lummer on Facebook, and let me know let me know what's on your mind because if it's on your mind, it's probably on someone else's mind and I am here to support you as much as possible with any information that I can give to you right now.
All right, so until next week, stay well. Stay safe and stay home. I'll talk to you again next week. Take care.