Tis’ the season, but many of us are anything but jolly this time of year. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen give you some tips to keep your perspective intact and keep those holiday blues at bay.
Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen-
Tana Amen: And, I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, and addictions.
Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics where we transform lives for three decades using brain SPECT imaging to better target temperature and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit brainmdhealth.com. Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast.
Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We are talking about the Brain Warrior's Way holiday guide to sanity, what are the things you can do to keep your mental health healthy during the holidays which are filled with stress.
Tana Amen: Yep.
Daniel Amen: Before we get there, first time listener, Seth AC9 hopeful about the holidays. My wife has been following Daniel and Tana for years so as I have walked through issues with depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. Listening to your podcast on a whim, I found myself encouraged. What I loved the most was the emphasis on gratitude and giving thanks. I've done this in the past and found it was monumental. Five to 10 minutes a day of intentional thanksgiving, it's been a while since I've done it regularly. Knowing that it actually changes my brain chemistry breathes life into my soul. I will begin doing this again daily.
Tana Amen: I love that breathes life into my soul.
Daniel Amen: Seth AC9. Thank you so much. That is powerful.
Tana Amen: It breathes life into my soul. It does. It actually does. We often say it's food for the soul. So, it breathes life into my soul.
Daniel Amen: I love that. So, what about the holidays are stressful for you?
Tana Amen: Number one thing and you guys heard me say this before, I hate shopping. I hate the mall more than I hate just about anything on the planet. Do it during the holidays and that's like the mall on steroids. The second you pull into the parking lot, what happens to me? I'm like ... I'm just like it's the worst thing ever. So, the one thing that does help is online shopping, but before I had Chloe, my family had as an adult, I mean as a child of course we did gifts but when I became an adult, it was my idea. I hate shopping. The one thing that I always pinpointed as being stressful were gifts, was going to the mall buying gifts.
So, as soon as I became an adult in my early 20s, I was like I came up the idea I'm like, "Can we just not do gifts? I don't want to do gifts." If there were little kids, that was fine, but there were no little kids in my family at the time. We made the decision not to do gifts and it was ... I then loved the holidays, because for us, it's more of a religious holiday. It's a focus on gratitude, but when you have kids it becomes different.
Daniel Amen: Well, when you are 60-
Tana Amen: Until I married you-
Daniel Amen: Seventy people in your family it becomes impossible.
Tana Amen: Right. So, when I married Daniel and when I have Chloe it changed, right? Now, I have a little one and I married into this massive family. I have to say that is fun. We go to your house and there's usually 60 to 80 people there. So, that's a whole different thing, but it's the gifts. It's the focus on if I forget someone it's taboo. If I don't do Christmas cards, I look bad. I'm like, "What is that? That is just insanity." I've never been the whole perfect little like socialite wife.
Daniel Amen: Suzy Homemaker.
Tana Amen: No. Never going to be. It's just ... no, it's irritating. I was born the wrong sex. I don't have enough-
Daniel Amen: It's the expectation that is actually so stressful.
Tana Amen: Yes.
Daniel Amen: It's mostly the expectation you put on yourself.
Tana Amen: Yeah, but I have the right spouse because you don't put that expectation on me and that's ... we agree on that.
Daniel Amen: Actually, if you saw our home, it's beautiful in Christmas, because you take time to make it. For me, I mean I'm like here to help but it's not-
Tana Amen: Yeah. My space is important to me. My space, my nest is important to me. There are other things that are not important to me. The fact that I don't send you a Christmas card does not mean I love you less. It means that taking the time to do Christmas cards is irritating. It's just what it means. I'd rather talk to you, have a cup of coffee with you. It's just whatever. I just [crosstalk 00:05:14]
Daniel Amen: So, let's help them with the holidays. So, never forget the 18-40-60 rule, says when your 18, you were about what everybody is thinking of you. When you're 40, you don't give a damn what anybody thinks about you. When you're 60, you realize no one has been thinking about you-
Tana Amen: I'm 50 so I'm right at that-
Daniel Amen: ... at all.
Tana Amen: Yeah. I'm at that middle point [inaudible 00:05:36]
Daniel Amen: So, if you're doing things because you don't want to disappoint people, they're probably only going to think about for like 10 seconds unless they have OCD.
Tana Amen: Do you care?
Daniel Amen: Then, if they're disappointed and it's really not about love for you and the emotional connection, then you just have to rethink that relationship. When I stopped caring about what other people think of me and for me it was survival. What we do here in Amen Clinics it's so different than what our colleagues do. I've had people hate me for decades. It's like perfectly okay with me.
Tana Amen: Right.
Daniel Amen: It's like if you hate me, that's your business, because I love me. I think what we do is awesome.
Tana Amen: Same thing.
Daniel Amen: Getting to that secure place where your opinion about you is the primary one, I think that's important.
Tana Amen: Yeah, it's interesting. I spent my 20s completely almost paralyzed by this worry about thinking like what other people think of me or feeling like I had to be a certain way, do things perfectly. Somehow in my late 30s, I mean it was intentional. I did a lot of growth in my late 30s, early 40s. It was just so freeing. I cannot tell you. It's like just releasing chains. Yeah, going back to that. That's why I love like my 40s and going into 50s is just the best time of my life because ... just all that emotional baggage.
Daniel Amen: But, it took work.
Tana Amen: It took work, intentional work.
Daniel Amen: Right. Those of you who are struggling and people struggle more during the holidays. There is work to do and-
Tana Amen: And, it's worth it.
Daniel Amen: ... the Brain Warrior's Way as we talk about, this idea of mastery, the first thing is you got to get your mind right. Don't believe every stupid thing you think. That it's a war so you have to be armed, prepared and aware. If you're really struggling because depression is higher in winter months starting in October, November and then December, could it be your vitamin D level is low because you live in a place where there's not enough sun. Is your thyroid low? Lord knows you know the impact of abnormal thyroid high can cause anxiety, low often causes depression and sometimes it's just suboptimal so it's within the normal range, but it's low normal. You just were to feel like a wet noodle.
Tana Amen: Same with female hormones.
Daniel Amen: So, optimizing your hormones absolutely critical and then sustenance. So, why do people feel bad during the holidays? Because, they eat like crap. So, if you're eating a lot of sugar or foods that quickly turn to sugar, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, sugar, they're pro inflammatory and we know that inflammation is associated with depression and also with cognitive impairment. So, I do not eat badly during the holidays. Why? People go, "Oh, well you're just a bummer." I'm like, "No, because I love myself."
Tana Amen: Right. I don't want to feel like-
Daniel Amen: It's because I don't want to suffer in January.
Tana Amen: Right.
Daniel Amen: We had mentioned this recently that we're creatures of habit. Because of you and your seven cookbooks now, because of you I eat foods I love-
Tana Amen: Right. You don't feel like you're suffering.
Daniel Amen: ... that love me back. So, there is no suffering. People, "Oh, that's so boring." I'm like, "I'm not being boring. Just having joint pain."
Tana Amen: No, we have brownies. So, we have brownies on Thanksgiving.
Daniel Amen: They were really good.
Tana Amen: But, they were sugar free.
Daniel Amen: Yeah, because you know how to make them.
Tana Amen: Right.
Daniel Amen: You have-
Tana Amen: They taste sugar free, but they were.
Daniel Amen: You have 25 dessert recipes and you just got to get your mind right. I do the right thing not because I should do the right thing, but because it's about love.
Tana Amen: Right.
Daniel Amen: That I love myself. I love my wife. I love my wife. I love my mission. I love my children. I love my grandchildren and quite frankly, I hate being in pain.
Tana Amen: Me too.
Daniel Amen: I don't like shoulder pain. I don't like knee pain.
Tana Amen: I'm too scared of [crosstalk 00:10:35]
Daniel Amen: I know when I don't do the right things, that increases inflammation in my body because I played football and I tore my right ACL. I know when I do the right thing.
Tana Amen: Me too. My hands.
Daniel Amen: So, those of you that go, "Well, that's boring." It's like feeling well is never boring. Feeling pain is boring.
Tana Amen: Well, and the idea of putting my family through more pain because I get sick or because something happens to me because I've been sick. I don't have great genetics. It's just the way it is. It is what it is, but I can control that one thing. So, the idea of me becoming sick and putting them through more pain is ... yeah it feels selfish to me. That just feels selfish to me. So, it doesn't feel right to me. They've been through enough and I want to be healthy for them. I don't want to be a burden. Yeah, it's not ... this one last thing. This is not about perfection. We know no one's perfect, okay? We're not perfect. It's not like we never have anything but that is not where we live, okay? So, if we do have something, it's small amounts. Its very occasionally. It's not this whole one day a week thing. That's just not.
Daniel Amen: Yeah, it's like 95-5.
Tana Amen: 95-5. So, if you have something, okay, don't make a big deal of it. Get back on track. If you're not doing it so much that you're staying addicted, right? So, to have a few bites and move on.
Daniel Amen: We've actually had some close friends die this year.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Daniel Amen: Right? I mean as we get toward the end of the year, you think about the people you've lost. I've just always reminded of the story of one of my friends when we started the Daniel plan at Saddleback Church. It was like 300 pounds and 5'10". When his wife began to realize that his habits were going to take him away from her early, she got very upset with him and she basically said, "If you abandon me because you didn't make good decisions, I'm not going to miss you. I'm going to be mad at you." So, you just want to think. I had a close friend this year who died of a heart attack. He just wasn't as serious as he could have been and that made me sad. So, stay with us, we'll be back.
Thank you for listening to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. Go to iTunes and leave a review and you'll automatically be entered into a drawing to get a free signed copy of the Brain Warrior's Way and the Brain Warrior's Way cook book we give away every month.