They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I say it takes a village to heal! And science totally backs me up on that.
It turns out that studies have shown that loneliness and isolation (real or perceived) produces a huge inflammatory response in the body—but that people who have strong social connections can see many benefits including decreased inflammation, stronger immune system, less depression and better overall health.
When I work with clients one-on-one, or even through my books and programs, one of the biggest changes I encourage people to make is to ask for help and get in touch with a social group—and in my experience, it’s one of the things people have the hardest time doing. Forget giving up pasta and cookies! Asking for help and taking care of yourself seems to be way harder.
When you’re dealing with all the symptoms that come with thyroid disease, socializing is probably last on your list of things to do. One of the moms in my community mentioned hating “having to constantly put on [her] poker face” — as in, never letting on how she really felt.
It’s so true that a lot of times it seems easier to stay home, cocoon in your own little world and not let the outside world see what you’re dealing with (because they won’t understand anyway, right?). But here’s the deal: You really need the love and support of friends, family, and yes, even your kids right now. You don’t need to cut yourself off from all human contact.
The socializing you used to do may seem just too hard right now, which is why I’ve come up with some suggestions for sneaky ways to put socializing back on your radar.
Ask for what you need.
Sometimes just asking for what you need is the most powerful thing you can do for your health. Maybe that means asking girlfriends to come to your house for a night in watching movies instead of going out. Maybe it means asking your partner to watch the kids so you can have an hour to go work out or take a walk with a friend. Maybe it means asking someone you know to be your fitness buddy.
Whatever it is, remember that you’re worth it. There’s no shame or guilt in asking for what you need—despite what we’re brought up to believe. You may be surprised at how receptive your friends and family are when you just let them know how to help you.
Play date power
If you’re a mom, another way to stay connected to other women and be with your child without having to take on the taxing physical play is to create a meetup for moms to just gather and go on nature walks with their kids (with or without stroller depending on age) or for play dates at your house.
Make it a pitch-in sitch so you don’t have to party plan, and since you know your house will be destroyed with toys while the kids are there, you don’t really need to clean up too much to prepare nor do you have to get yourself ready and children packed into the car (a monumental task with our rascal these days).
You just get to sit back, let others arrive, bring food and let the rugrats run wild in the safety and comfort of your home. It’s a win-win-win-win.
To find other thyroid/autoimmune mamas or just really cool mamas in your area, check out Meetup.com, post an ad in your kids’ school newsletter or one of your city/town’s local online forums.
Join an online community
If you’re having trouble finding like minded peeps in your area or your time is already stretched thin, online groups can be hugely beneficial. Of course, I would love for you to join us in our Facebook thyroid community, but there are lots of websites and groups out there, so you’re certain to find one that’s right for you.
If you’re nervous about participating in a group at first—online or off—start by just listening (or reading, as the case may be). Often, just knowing that there are other people going through something similar will be a huge relief.
Groups are a great place to get support, find accountability partners for making life changes, and making friends who understand what you’re going through. Just remember that a group is never a substitute for a qualified health practitioner, and it’s risky to give or accept any medical advice in a group.
If you’re not already a member, click on over and join our Facebook group. And if you have more ideas on how to stay socially connected while dealing with thyroid disease, please let us know in the comments!