Black woman with a smartphone and coffee wearing headphones.

You are not alone if the social distancing requirements and complying with the need of living in a social bubble has left you feeling anxious, socially isolated and feeling depressed. You are among millions of people who are bearing the brunt of Covid-19’s psychological effects. Our exposure to the continuous feed of stimulating news and notifications over wifi devices, television and social media has made many of us, myself included, worry about the future. As a result, it has made us vulnerable emotionally and mentally. Adjusting to the new normal of being isolated was not easy. I found the thought of following the mundane routine daily with little or no avenues of recreation or in-person interaction made me anxious.

In these circumstances, I have adopted a new coping mechanism, which has given me both comfort and knowledge: listening to podcasts. I had never imagined how empowering it can be to listen to human stories, such as overcoming a difficult situation, finding hope and courage, or learning a new skill. I am so happy to label it “my talk time” and today I am recommending my top 5 podcasts for people impacted by breast cancer for you to enjoy.

1. Shifting the Perspective of Mental Health by Breast Cancer Recovery Coach

This podcast tells about the paradigm shift that we need for thinking about mental health. It educates us that it’s not okay to blame yourself for feeling a certain way, like how we don’t blame ourselves for having headaches. It motivates us to act upon healthy thinking, eating well and moving our bodies to get back life on track after breast cancer. Just how we deal with physical health, we need to give attention to mental health, especially before, during and after breast cancer treatment. The journey from self-awareness to acting involves cleansing the mind first. It can be achieved through exercise and massage therapy, which help in releasing the unprocessed anger, acknowledging traumatic feelings and healing frustrations without fear of judgement. It’s hard to put a body on a healthy diet when the mind is filled with toxic thoughts and expectations. Listen to the podcast here: Shifting the Perspective of Mental Health

2. How to Get Off the Rollercoaster of Emotional Eating by Breast Friends Cancer Support Radio

Becky Olson and Kathy Leeman, both breast cancer survivors, discussing how taking a break from all the negative, politically charged news and turning devices off can help you regain control of your eating habits. Struggle with weight gain can be a direct effect of the treatment or a result of the cancer itself. It can also be an indirect side effect of stress or emotional eating. Often, it’s a combination. And using food to cope with difficult situations or circumstances as a way to distract or comfort ourselves and avoid what is going on is called emotional eating. Frantically searching for soul food is not physiological hunger but stress eating. In this powerful, action-oriented podcast, Kathy shares five signs of emotional eating, causes of emotional eating and what you can do about it. It’s a guide to readjust your daily eating routine and find ways to distract yourself from emotional eating. Listen to the podcast here: How to Get Off the Rollercoaster of Emotional Eating.

3. How Food Affects Your Emotions by Breast Cancer Conqueror Podcast with Dr. V

Food is comfort, pleasure and companionship. Compared to drugs, it is inexpensive, available and 100% legal. For all these reasons, we tend to switch to food when stressors come in our life. Dr. Naidoo from Harvard shares that there is an emerging body of research which claims that there is a connection between gut health and the brain. This podcast is a wake up call for us to alter what we put into our mouths. It emphasizes how nutrients digested in the food are ultimately going or not going to secrete serotonin, a happy hormone, which in turn will affect mental health. In short, what we eat can impact how we feel emotionally. This podcast is a step-by-step manual on how specific food such as added sugars, artificial sweeteners, refined flours and processed food can lead to or worsen anxiety and depression. It advocates that the day and time to include fresh greens in our meal is today and now! Listen to the podcast here: How Food Affects Your Emotions with Dr. Naidoo.

4. Taking Action and Addressing Your Nutrition is Step Number One by Breast Cancer Thriver Podcast

In this podcast, Lauren Neuburger introduces us to her signature 12-week prevention and thrivership program, focusing on the importance of nutrition. She covers the effect stress has on other areas of your life, the three main nutrition plans for breast cancer prevention, and the physical messages your body is sending you. The key takeaways of this podcast are: when you take inspired action in your prevention plan and address the low hanging fruit like nutrition, you start to feel really confident, safe and supported here in your physical body. Remember it’s okay to change and adjust things when it comes to nutrition. As an action step, identify what is causing you stress, worry, and anxiety and address them in your treatment plan. Listen to the podcast here: Taking Action and Addressing Your Nutrition Is Step Number One.

5. Five Lessons I have Learnt in 2020 by My Breast Self

2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for all of us and despite that, breast cancer surgeon Tasha shares stories of those who have been affected by cancer and how these stories fill her with hope. It is an account of an essential worker who took immense pride in being a part of the healthcare workforce despite having a high risk of contacting the deadly virus. She shares how her resilience helped her deal with Covid patients during the pandemic and how wearing protective equipment (like a mask, apron and gloves) doesn’t seem to come between her and her inspiration to treat patients with love and tender care. She shares her top five lessons: people are highly adaptable, health care workers are amazing, strangers can be kind, people are resilient, and people are resourceful. Listen to the podcast here: Five Lessons I have Learnt in 2020


Written by Shweta Chooramani, ZBC Volunteer

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