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COVID-19 Long Haul, Fatigue, Fighting Negative Thoughts in a Pandemic

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Death toll statistics can have a negative impact on brain health and make way for harmful thoughts. Dr. Amen and Tana Amen sit down to elaborate on how to change one’s focus to practicing mental discipline and how the benefits of these exercises help maintain a healthy body weight during a pandemic.


Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome to The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.

Daniel Amen, MD:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.

Welcome back. We are talking about COVID bad habits this week. And before we get started, we want to ask you if you would please share this episode, tag us, tell us something you learned. We would love to hear from you. Also, if you leave us a review, we will actually enter you into a drawing. If we read your review, it’ll enter you into a drawing for one of our books, a signed copy of either The Relentless Courage of the Scared Child or Your Brain is Always Listening. You get to choose. But as we go into this week, we want to talk about more COVID bad habits. We talked about substances in the last one, particularly marijuana and alcohol, but those aren’t the only bad habits.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well, and I have something to read. I just got a text from the chief of police for Newport Beach, Jon Lewis, who’s a friend of mine. We’ve been working with the Newport Beach Police Department to create a brain healthy police department. Actually in May, I’m going to do an all day training. We’re going to start training trainers.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Good.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Police officers to create brain healthy police departments.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Probably one of the best things we could do.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Really excited. Jon sent me this text, the best April Fool’s Day prank, a pink doughnut box was put out in the break area with a veggie plate inside. A little police humor for you.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

That’s great.

Daniel Amen, MD:

I hope all is well. I just love that.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

It’s what I thought.

Daniel Amen, MD:

I love that so much.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

That’s awesome.

Daniel Amen, MD:

That’s hysterical.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

It’s great.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And I’m just so proud of them because they’re getting it and being able to have fun.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah, it’s awesome.

Daniel Amen, MD:

With it. I remember when I first went to the police department and I said, “Is it true? You guys are sort of famous for getting free donuts and eating them.” He said, “Oh no.”

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And then we did a tour and there was donuts and we’re like, “What?”

Daniel Amen, MD:

There were donuts in the meeting room. All right, so other bad habits.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I’m going to name a few of my pet peeves during COVID that are bad habits. Reading death tolls every day, it’s a bad habit. I don’t like it. I don’t like hearing about death tolls, death numbers every single day, because it focuses you on negativity. Focus on some of the positive things. For me, turning the news on and focusing on all the craziness because you know it’s not real. Even the headlines, even when the content, some of the content might be real, the way it’s spun or the way it’s read on the news is not accurate. Focusing on that for me, just spins me into craziness so I stopped listening to the news. Those are bad habits, allowing yourself to get out of check, allowing your mood to be dictated by numbers by news, by you not having control of how you respond and react to something. That’s a bad habit. Sitting around too often, watching Netflix, moving like a slug, instead of moving with intention and purpose. Those are things that are COVID bad habits because they affect your mood. They affect everyone in your family.

Daniel Amen, MD:

News consumption, I guess social media would go along with that. It’s been a double edged sword because it’s how people have stayed connected with other people, which is critical. Not being intentional with the food you eat. And this is often people who have ADD, have a much harder time with their diets. There’s actually a higher incidence of obesity in people who have ADD.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Because they’re more impulsive.

Daniel Amen, MD:

They’re not planners. They often start thinking about food when they’re hungry, as opposed to planning it out throughout the day or throughout the week. And so if you have ADD, get it treated and I just always say, just see it as a problem solved because it can be so helpful because bad food habits have caused 40% of the population to gain significant weight.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And that affects your mood.

Daniel Amen, MD:

The average in millennials will horrify you.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah, it’s above the 19. We said, COVID-19 initially it’s way above that now.

Daniel Amen, MD:

41 pounds.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

It’s crazy.

Daniel Amen, MD:

20% of the population has lost weight often because some people, when they get stressed, stop eating, but 40% of people have gained weight. And the ripple of that effect is going to be seen for years and years.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And one more that I think is really important is watch your language, your language matters. Your brain does not have a sense of humor. It sort of lives out what you tell it to. If you use language that’s disempowering, that’s going to matter. When I hear people saying, “Oh, it’s a pandemic world.” That really bothers me because and then they’ll go on to talk about all the negativity with the pandemic. We’ve had pandemics in this world over and over and over many times in the past. Yeah not in our generation, but we’ve had many of them. It’s not a pandemic world. It’s a pandemic we’re living in. It’s going to end. We’re going to move on. Think about your language and how you use it. Is it disempowering? Or is it empowering? And be careful with it, put some discipline around it.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Words matter.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Words matter.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Yeah. Now we often, when our nieces first came to be with us, there was a lot of negative words about themselves, about their family.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

We hear a lot less of that now. Well, but we discipline it.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And discipline, we don’t beat them.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

No, no, no. Discipline means to teach.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Is we just help them correct it. We live around here. Today is first time on the set you’ve actually seen the ANT eaters behind us. ANT stands for automatic negative thoughts, thoughts that come into your mind automatically and ruin your day. And you don’t have to believe every stupid thing you think and you absolutely should not say everything you think.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I get a lot of comments on this on, well, if I’m drawing boundaries and I’m using my voice, then how do I not say everything I think? There’s a big difference. Drawing boundaries and using your voice to protect yourself, that’s protecting yourself in situations that are harmful, that where you need to stand up for yourself in order to protect yourself. Saying every dumb thing you think is going to ruin your relationships. Those are two very different.

Daniel Amen, MD:

It’s a bad habit.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah. Those are different things. Be clear that one will ruin your relationships, the other one will save your life.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well and I always think of these words, then what? If I say this, well, then what happens?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And firm and kind.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Or do this, then what happens? And just because you have a thought has nothing to do with whether or not it’s true or whether or not you should say it. And thoughts come from all sorts of places. They come from your genes. You talked about in the relentless courage, it was scared child. You were preparing for the pandemic for three generations.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And I’m not going to stop.

Daniel Amen, MD:

But thoughts come from your mom’s voice, your dad’s voice, your stepfather’s voice, your schoolmates, your friends or enemies, the news, movies. Just because you have a thought, it’s important to evaluate it before you let it out of your mouth. And I often get crazy thoughts and most of the time, I don’t say them because it’s like, well will this get me what I want with Tana? Or will it get me what I want with the girls?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah, I have a funny example of this. I didn’t really notice it, but Chloe picked up on it. She noticed it. My daughter’s getting ready to go to college and we’ve been preparing for this and I’m just nervous as can be that she’s going to be. And she noticed something. She’s like, “I noticed something.” She goes, “You’re actually a pretty cool mom with most things, except for driving. You have some weird hangup about me driving places.” And I never really caught onto it. And she’s like, she said to me, she goes, “You need to go get therapy because you’re reliving your trauma through me and you’re affecting my life.”

I was like, what? But you know what? When I thought about it, not only did I get into a really, really bad car accident when I was 25, that should have, could have, for all intents and purposes killed me. I was a trauma nurse. I watched this day after day after day, scraping, people trying to put them back together, watching them die. And my best friend’s daughter was killed in a car accident. And so it never occurred to me, but she picked up on it. She’s like, “You need to go to therapy because you are taking it out on me and you’re affecting my life.” You have to think about these things.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well, but that’s also part of that is her trying to make you feel bad so she can get what you want. Because she’s really bright because the fact is I don’t have those same traumas and I didn’t let my kids drive until I thought they were ready. And For one of them, it was 17 and a half.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right. But you actually had said she could go somewhere and I was freaked out about it. And you were like, “That’s not rational.” You’re the one who made the comment that it’s not rational.

Daniel Amen, MD:

You’re often not rational.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

That was where it came from was she’s like, “Even Daniel knows, you’re not rational with your thoughts around driving for me.”

Daniel Amen, MD:

I think we should be protecting our teenagers. Anyways. What did you learn? COVID bad habits from marijuana, alcohol, overeating, staying up too late, not sleeping, death tolls, watching the news.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Correcting your thinking.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Yeah, allowing the negative thoughts, the ANTs to come and stay. You need to move those bad boys on. Write it down. Post it on any of your social media sites, what you learned, #brainwarrior’swaypodcast. We would be so grateful. Leave us a comment, question or review at brainwarriorswaypodcast.com. We’re going to read the questions coming up in the next session when you bring in the news. Brand new study out that got me walking even faster this morning. Stay with us.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

If you’re enjoying the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll always know when there’s a new episode. And while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating as that helps others find the podcast.

Daniel Amen, MD:

If you’re interested in coming to Amen Clinics, use the code Podcast10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com. For more information, give us a call at (855) 978-1363.