Is Stress Dominating Your Life?

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

We all face stress at some point in our lives. The sad thing is, not all of us are equipped to really deal with stress head on. So today, we’re taking the time to share with you our personal and proven strategies that we’ve used all these years to effectively manage stress in our life.

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Donny Osmond: I'm Donny Osmond and welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way hosted by my friends Daniel and Tana Amen. Now, in this podcast, you're going to learn that the war for your health is won between your ears. That's right. If you're ready to be sharper and have better memory, mood, energy, and focus, well then stay with us. Here are Daniel and Tana Amen.
Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We want to talk to you today about some of our own stressful experiences so you know that we know this not only from a professional standpoint, but from a personal standpoint.
Tana Amen: Well, we know you're watching this for a reason, and so we've all struggled. Everybody struggles with stress at some point, and these are some of the strategies we've used to overcome. And we like to teach these strategies.
Dr Daniel Amen: When we first met, we were on a drive up north and we went through Huntington Beach because there was too much traffic on the freeway and all of a sudden my heart stopped because we passed-
Tana Amen: Yeah, you got teary. I remember that.
Dr Daniel Amen: The cemetery where my grandfather was.
Tana Amen: And I didn't know what it was at first. And I looked at you and you were very emotional.
Dr Daniel Amen: Well the saddest day of my life was when my grandfather died. So I was named after him. He was my best friend growing up and I was in medical school when he died. And he'd had a heart attack and then he had another one and then he got depressed. And he was a candy maker and everybody's friend. And all of a sudden this man I looked up to was sad and would cry and couldn't sleep.
And looking back on that, what I learned later is 60% of people who have a heart attack will develop a major depression within the next 18 months. And people really weren't paying attention to that. And for many years, as soon as I would think about his death, I would just start weeping.
And you know, I've internalized him because now I'm a grandfather. But dealing with that and really working through it, was challenging and you've probably lost somebody that you love. And what for me, that worked just so well, was focusing on the joy. Because my best memories were standing at the stove making fudge and pralines and I remember ... I'm one of seven children. A lot of people don't know that and I'm third. My mother actually had four children in four years.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: She was a busy girl and so she would drop me off at my grandfather's house and when she'd come to pick me up I would grab his leg and say, "Don't let the woman take me." Because you know there was attention. There was-
Tana Amen: It's hard to get attention when there's a bunch of kids running around.
Dr Daniel Amen: When you're a part of a brood.
Tana Amen: So we should talk about the stress of being one of seven some time. Sounds like there's some trauma around that.
Dr Daniel Amen: It has its challenges when you have five sisters, I actually wrote a whole book about it.
Tana Amen: No, it's one of the reasons that I actually love you. I have to tell you, he came fully trained and housebroken. There was nothing that stresses this man out when it comes to dealing with women. So I love your sisters for that.
Dr Daniel Amen: Think about what you've lost and how do you deal with it? I mean for me, I anchor my soul really in my relationship with my grandfather. But when I then think of my grand babies, I know how important that relationship is. So I use the sadness, if you will, to fuel the connection.
Tana Amen: Absolutely.
Dr Daniel Amen: And I certainly focus on what I love about him and don't remember just the depression, although I remember it, because it helps me be a better psychiatrist. What about you?
Tana Amen: I think a lot of people have heard the story about when I had cancer when I was young, and it metastasized and I had to drop out of school and file for bankruptcy and quit my job. And I became very depressed during that period. And like we're not kidding, depressed and anxious. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life and I felt very lost. And I actually had no idea, literally no idea what to do.
But I remember talking to someone very wise at that time and they said something so profound to me that really helped me. So there were two things that happened, two quick exercises and we actually teach one of them now and I love it. One of them, so this person said to me, "How much responsibility are you willing to take for this situation?"
And I was stunned because I thought to myself, what do you mean take responsibility? I have cancer. Like how do you take responsibility at 23 years old for getting cancer? I thought it was such an unfair question. But see that's a victim mentality right there. And that without saying that, that's what this person was trying to point out.
So he drew a circle on a whiteboard and he cut it in half and colored in one side. And he said, "Are you willing to take 50% responsibility? I didn't ask you if it's your fault. I asked you if you were willing to take responsibility for any of it because the word responsibility means the ability to respond. It doesn't mean you have to take blame." And the minute he said that, he said, "If you take responsibility for half of this, it means you have 50% chance of changing it. You have control over 50% of it to change it."
And I was stunned. I just sat there with my mouth open going, "Oh my gosh." It was like somebody threw water on me and I went, "I don't want anyone having control over the outcome of my life. I will take 100% responsibility since it doesn't mean it's my fault." I sort of got that, I internalized it and I just immediately took responsibility for my life because it meant I had the ability to respond because I never want to feel like a victim. It for me is repulsive, that feeling.
And that was one thing. That was one of the exercises. The other one is one that we teach and I really love it and it's an exercise where you're literally at a fork in the road and you meditate. So I really did a deep meditation on this and I wrote it all down. I mean, I journaled for hours and hours, in detail. If I go down one road, the road I was on and I stayed there, what would my life be six months from then? My finances, my relationships, everything in my life. How would I feel? What would my weight be like? Where would I be a year from then? Where would I be five years from then? Where would I be 10 years from then? 20 years from then?
And I remember I was in this meditative state when I woke up, I was slumped over. I was feeling miserable and I thought, "Oh my gosh, I cannot do that. I cannot do that and I will be this horrible person."
But then I went down the other side of the road. So I did the same exercise. If I make these changes, I was very clear about the changes I needed to make, simple changes, but I made the changes. And I became a warrior for my health, which is what we want for you. And I made some simple changes and I went down, what was it going to be like six months, a year, five years, 10 years, 20 years. And I wrote it down in detail, my finances, my relationships, where I would live, what I would look like. And I literally, it just snapped me into gear. Like it was just that powerful. I was not willing to go down the other road.
Dr Daniel Amen: So you have a choice in how you respond to the stress in your life. I had a choice. I could be a victim of the sadness. You could've been a victim of your cancer, but that's not what we want for ourselves. And it's clearly not what we want from you.
Tana Amen: We want you to be a warrior.
Dr Daniel Amen: It's a great exercise that Tana did. We call it the fork in the road. So if you just keep your life where you're not really thinking about it, you're just going along what society "has for you", whether it's fast food or being addicted to another gadget, or watching hours and hours of TV.
Tana Amen: Instead of getting up and exercising.
Dr Daniel Amen: Or going down the Brain Warriors Way. So that's the street, we'll call it the Brain Warrior's Way, where you're really focused on your health, you're focused on what you want, and you're acting out of love, love for yourself, and love for the people you care about.
Tana Amen: That's what we want for you. We want you to feel empowered with these tools. So in fact, why don't you do this exercise? So all you have to do, think of your life right now, where you're at. You can either close your eyes and meditate on it or put some great music on and you can write it down in detail. I actually like to do both personally, so I like to meditate on it and then really journal it out. So because for me, the writing, the act of writing is very powerful. But stop. Think about where you are. Be very clear about the place that you're in at this moment. Then think of a road going to the left. Okay? And I want you to write out where your life will be in six months, in one year, in five years, in 10 years, in 20 years.
And be very detailed about what it will be like. Your finances, your weight, your relationships, your career, the house you'll live in, your health, everything. Then come back to where you are now. But notice when you're on that road, notice how feel when you open your eyes or when you stop writing.
Dr Daniel Amen: Oh so that's if they don't really care.
Tana Amen: That's if you're not making changes. So when you open your eyes, when you stop the exercise, think, notice how you feel inside. It doesn't feel good. Then come back to now. Come back to the fork in the road. Notice how you feel. Start over and then do the same exercise. Write it out, meditate on it or do both like I do. And then you want to actually be very specific, going six months, one year, five years, 10 years, 20 years down the road. If you go down the Brain Warrior's Way,.
If you go down that street and you make the changes that you know you need to make. You start exercising, do some simple things, change your nutrition, follow the tips and tools that we're giving you all along the way. Just subscribe and follow us. We're giving you those tips and tools to become a warrior. And if you make those changes, notice where you'll be 20 years from now. Do that and leave it, post it for us down below.
Donny Osmond: Thanks for listening to today's show, the Brain Warrior's Way. Why don't you head over to Brain Warrior's Way, That's Brain Warrior's Way, where Daniel and Tana have a gift for you just for subscribing to the show. And when you post your review on iTunes, you'll be entered into a drawing where you can win a VIP visit to one of the Amen clinics. I'm Donny Osmond, and I invite you to step up your brain game by joining us in the next episode.