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The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed our society as a whole, but it has also drastically changed how people are spending their time. Generally, people are eating more unhealthy food, spending more time on the couch, and becoming more burdened with brain health issues like ADD, anxiety, and depression. In this episode of the podcast, Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen give you some ideas to make your daily life more productive, more satisfying, and healthier.
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.
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.
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 pandemonium today. So how are you handling the pandemic? It’s been going on and on and on. And we had hope and we got excited that it was ending and, “Oh, just kidding.” And then school is starting and we’re talking about all these things, but we want to know strategies. We want to hear from you too. What are your strategies? What have you been doing that’s been helping you or what have you been doing that’s been hurting you? Because you clearly can do one or the other, help yourself or hurt yourself. So we are talking about pandemonium today [crosstalk [00:01:20].
Daniel Amen, MD: Before we get into it, think about one thing that you might learn and then at the end, write it down, take a picture of it and post it on any of your social media sites and #brainwarriorswaypodcast. Help us grow this podcast because what I say in the end of mental illness, it will be begin with a revolution in brain help. So help us get this podcast to as many people as possible.
We’ve been talking about anxiety, depression, trauma and grief. And healing those, dealing with those really starts by getting your brain right, so eating right, exercising and then not doing things that hurt your brain. So being repetitively on phone games over and over and over again, it’ll cause your brain to melt. New learning is one of the great strategies to optimize your brain.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: See? I decided to redo the house during this time. That really helped me.
Daniel Amen, MD: I know, but chronic stress, which is what’s happening to me does not help! New learning, not new paint.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: I should have thought about it or someone should’ve let me know before I got rid of the furniture that we were going to have a hard time finding furniture. There’s delays on everything, but that actually helped me get out of my head.
Daniel Amen, MD: All right, new learning is a very important strategy when we talk about exercising. New learning, it’s critical to decrease inflammation, which is a major cause of depression. And so omega three fatty acids and then killing the processer.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Well, and right, and that’s one problem with the pandemic, is that when it first started, people were like, “Oh, I can’t get the food I normally eat. I can’t find organic. I guess I’m eating gluten. I guess I’m eating rice.” If you’re a brain warrior, you don’t normally eat some of those things. But because we were a little nervous and we were having a hard time finding our normal stuff, we started eating things and then we got in that habit. It’s like we’re grateful we have food.
There was plenty of food, just maybe not what you were looking for, but that did lead to inflammation for a lot of people, which then affects your mood. So we’ve been hearing a lot of that. It certainly happened over here. I’m really affected by food, maybe more than some people, but that will affect you. And sitting, because we have been sitting so much, watching old movies with our kids, doing all these things, when you are in the house that increases inflammation. That alone is going to make you feel terrible.
Daniel Amen, MD: And it’s critical to avoid head injuries so be really careful. We had a fuss on the new mats that we got.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: The new kitchen mats.
Daniel Amen, MD: Because I almost tripped on them. I’m like, “She’s trying to kill me. She’s just trying to get rid of me early.”
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Definitely not.
Daniel Amen, MD: And avoiding toxins, they’re just everywhere. And when the pandemic started people just bought disinfectants without reading the labels.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Oh, I bleached everything and stripped off the surfaces. But that’s a good point because we got ants. Whenever someone does construction in our neighborhood, right now it’s us, for some reason it causes the ants to come in our house. So we had this ant infestation in my daughter’s room. And I see her walking into her room with a can of Raid. And I’m like, “What are you doing?” And she’s like, “I’m going to spray this.”
All our windows were closed and I’m like, “Please tell me you haven’t been spraying that with closed windows. That’s highly toxic.” So we have a nontoxic spray we use. It’s called Orange Guard or something. It works really well. But anyways, the point being nontoxic, make sure you’re doing something nontoxic.
Daniel Amen, MD: Including what you put on your hands, what you put under your arms, what you put on your body, because whatever goes on your body goes in your body and affects your mind.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: And, oh, by the way, cruciferous vegetables actually help to detoxify. So warm water with lemon and ginger, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, those types of veggies really help.
Daniel Amen, MD: And it’s so important if you want to manage anxiety and depression to not get diabetes because diabetes can increase the risk. And this is where your food really matters. There’s so many people that are prediabetic, actually more than a third of the population.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: I am actually prediabetic. I have to watch it. That’s why I’m so careful.
Daniel Amen, MD: And so getting rid of sugar and foods that quickly turn to sugar become absolutely essential.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: It’s sort of amazing, but even in this day and age I don’t know that a lot of people really understand the full impact or implication of Diabetes Type 2. Type 1 is a whole different animal. But, I don’t know that people like… It’s like, “Oh, that would suck. I’d have to take medication.” No, it’s so much worse than that. And people don’t really realize that because I grew up with my grandmother having to take care of her. She didn’t move in with us or she could take care of me when I was a kid, it was so I could help take care of her. She went legally blind. She lost her hair. She almost lost her toes. She got heart disease. There’s not one thing about this disease that’s going to make your life better. So it’s going to affect you in all kinds of ways.
Daniel Amen, MD: But it damages blood vessels. It makes your blood vessels brittle and more likely to break, which means you’re more likely to have a stroke, cardiovascular disease. It delays healing. I had a father-in-law who had it. And he told me when he was 55 that, “If I have to take insulin, I’m going to kill myself.” And he had to take insulin. He didn’t kill himself, but diabetes killed him. It took his eyes. It took his heart. It took his legs and-
Tana Amen, BSN RN: So he lost his legs.
Daniel Amen, MD: … And, ultimately, it took his mind. Now this is not something you want. When your doctor diagnoses you as prediabetic-
Tana Amen, BSN RN: It’s serious.
Daniel Amen, MD: … You need to think of it as an emergency.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Yeah, I feel like we toss the word around so much about diabetes and prediabetes and obesity that people are a little numb to what it really means.
Daniel Amen, MD: All right, so I promised tips on overcoming anxiety, depression, trauma and grief.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: I talked about mine. Let’s talk about yours.
Daniel Amen, MD: Well, I want to give them some specific things to do. And we’re actually working on a new public television special, that is going to come out the end of February, together.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: So it might be helpful to get their ideas too. Let’s have them communicate with us. Please go to brainwarriorswaypodcast.com. Tell us what you’ve been doing to manage your stress and anxiety. If it’s been really helpful for you, we want to hear about it.
Daniel Amen, MD: And one thing are certain scents. Using all five of your senses and your sense of smell is really critical. So lavender, peppermint, jasmine, honeysuckle, vanilla, find scents that work for you when you’re anxious, when you’re sad, when you’re upset and just play around with essential oils to see if any can reset your brain.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Yeah, Chloe, our 17 year old daughter, she really was affected. She was depressed and she got really affected by this whole thing because she’s very social. And so she likes to be out and moving. And so she didn’t do well. But she ordered one of those diffusers and she does lavender and some other thing. It not only smells good, she actually says it really helps her to settle down.
Daniel Amen, MD: The other thing are saunas have actually been found to decrease depression. One sauna was found to have anti depressant effects, so that can help knowing your brain type. And then we’ll also tell you, well, what supplements tend to help with this or that type. There are actually 16 different types for grief. And so many of us have experienced grief. I lost my father a couple of months ago. And what I’ve told my patients for years is don’t wait to heal grief. The week after he died, Tana would come into my office and I’d just think there crying.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Listen to his voicemails.
Daniel Amen, MD: And I knew that I couldn’t avoid it and I needed to feel it. And I ended up writing a poem that I did at his funeral called, Good Grief, He’s Everywhere! And so embracing the feelings, embracing the sadness and then not letting any of the ants steal your happiness. Like I didn’t do enough. And it’s like, “No, for the last five years I did as much as I could,” right? So managing your thoughts, not pie in the sky, happy thinking, but accurate thinking really helps you deal with grief.
And we always say with grief, “Fix sleep first.” Fix sleep first because if you sleep right, you are then going to be more likely to think right. And one last tip on trauma, we have an exercise we’re going to talk about in the show called [Bridge It [00:00:11]:10], that whenever you react and you’re angrier than you should be, or sadder than you should be, or more anxious than you should be, really try to go, “What am I thinking and feeling?” And then go back to the first time you had that.
So one of my patients is African American and when the pandemonium started, the societal unrest, that whole week she was just so anxious. And I had her close her eyes and really think about what she’s thinking and feeling and then when’s the first time she thought… She went immediately back to five years old to racial conflict that was really upsetting for her, that she didn’t understand. And she’d actually internalized that negative feeling for 35 years. And so I had her think about it while I had her stroke, cross your arms, go to your shoulders and then just stroke down your arms for 30 seconds and really relive that with your adult self sitting next to you. And after about two minutes it completely calmed down the anxiety.
So there’s so much that you can do. So I hope this has been helpful for you. What’d you learn today? Write it down, take a picture of it, post it on any of your social media sites. Then leave us a comment, question or review at brainwarriorswaypodcast.com and we’ll enter you into a drawing to win either The End of Mental Illness or Tana’s cookbook, The Brain Warrior’s Way. Stay with us. We’re going to answer your questions and also talk about brain in the news.
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 considering coming to Amen Clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code podcast 10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com or a 10% discount on all supplements at brainmdhealth.com. For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.