Schools Reopening & Anxiety: What To Do

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

Anxiety levels in the US had been experiencing a dramatic rise even before the pandemic hit, but once coronavirus came into the picture they skyrocketed. Some have been able to keep their thoughts under control over the summer, but now that the school year is approaching, things are definitely getting interesting. In this episode of the podcast, Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen discuss how September is likely to change people’s anxiety levels, as well as some practical tips they can use to keep calm and collected.

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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

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

Daniel Amen, MD:          Welcome everyone, we’re so glad you’re with us, we have missed you. I know we’ve been with you, but we’ve been interviewing other people. I mean, we’ve had some great guests.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      I know.

Daniel Amen, MD:          Like Dale Bredesen and Uma Naidoo, and Joan Lundon and the podcast is growing like crazy. We’re really grateful for you and share it, you want them to share it.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      Yeah. Anything you learned today, we would be super grateful if you would post it and tag us, you can even take a screenshot and send it to us, it’d be awesome, and tag us in it. And go to, we are always grateful for reviews, especially five star reviews, that helps our rating and helps where they place us and it will enter you into a giveaway. It’ll enter you into drawing for one of our books, either your book, The End of Mental Illness or the Brain Warrior’s Way Cookbook. We still have so many questions on food, so we’re still using that book as one of the giveaways. So, welcome.

Daniel Amen, MD:          Because it’s awesome.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      Yeah. One of our questions for today is about food again.

Daniel Amen, MD:          This pandemic has been hard.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      It has.

Daniel Amen, MD:          Before the pandemic, anxiety disorders were really at epidemic levels. They were nearly a third of the population and I’m betting now it’s over half. The incidents of anti-anxiety drugs, anti-depressants, sleep medication have just skyrocketed. How has it impacted you?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      Yeah.

Daniel Amen, MD:          Now, it’s not all negative, eight out of 10 families feel like they’re closer because they have more time together, but the level of stress has gone way up.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      Yeah. So what I’ve noticed, I’ve been talking to a lot of people, even on my community is initially a lot of people were like, “Oh, we get this extra time together.” But that wears off after time, especially if you’ve got kids with ADD, or you’ve got kids… Or you’re trying to work and you don’t have childcare, it started to get really stressful. And I think when it really hit people, in addition to all of the social unrest and the election stuff, it really hit people when school came around and they’re still not starting school. That’s what I’m hearing. I’m hearing from a lot of moms who were like, “Wait, whoa, stop. This is not okay.” It’s been really interesting to hear people’s reactions.

Daniel Amen, MD:          Well, and I think a big part of it is the uncertainty, the back and forth, it’s just not giving people time to get used to whatever the new reality is going to be.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      Yeah. There’s a lot of discrepancy and also moms sort of scrambled, and not that they liked doing the teaching, especially for little kids. I mean, try keeping a kindergartner on Zoom, it just doesn’t really work well. And so a lot of moms were scrambling and they made it work because they thought it was temporary. But the idea of starting to do that longterm is causing a lot of stress for people.

Daniel Amen, MD:          Well, they’re not trained-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      They’re not trained

Daniel Amen, MD:          … to do it. Most people never get training on how to be a parent.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      Right. And let’s face it a lot of moms, even the stay at home moms, they rely on that time that their kids are in school to get stuff done, to go grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry. And now it just all feels overwhelming.

Daniel Amen, MD:          So what are things people can do to retain their sanity? What are some of the things you’ve done to retain yours?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      Well, I can’t say I’ve been perfect at retaining it.

Daniel Amen, MD:          I agree with that.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      I did so well for the first couple of months, and then I just kind of… Done with it, sort of like a lot of other people. And now I’m in the same position. I’m scrambling trying to get three kids registered for school and I have no idea what we’re doing. I mean, I know for me… It’s interesting, exercise has always been my medicine, so no matter what, everybody knows they need to let me exercise. It’s better for their benefit if I exercise.

Daniel Amen, MD:          I second that.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      Yeah. And meditation, when I get away from it, I just find myself… When I don’t focus on what I’m grateful for, I find myself right now, focusing on what I’m irritated about. You’re going to focus on one thing or the other, the glass is half full, the glass is half empty. You have to train yourself to focus on the right things. And it’s not easy when you’ve got so many things coming at you, but you can do it. And the third thing is I’d gotten… I think everybody got a little bit lazy with their diet. I mean, they call it the COVID-19. I mean, for us being lazy with our diet is-

Daniel Amen, MD:          The COVID cushion.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      Yeah. For us being lazy with our diet is a little different than probably the average person. It still means we’re eating about 85 to 90% healthy, but I noticed that. So I really decided this was when I was going to do a cleanse. I’ve got one of the kids doing it with me, but then also after that eating super clean. I’m doing sort of our version… One of the questions was about food rules.

Our food rules are in many of our books. They’re definitely in Brain Warrior’s Way and Brain Warrior’s Way Cookbook, which is where the recipes are. And one of the food rules is eliminating all those things that make you feel bad, so I got really serious about doing that. And for me, that looks like sort of a paleo keto modified with extra greens, but that’s really what works for me. And that doesn’t work for everybody by the way, it depends on your brain type. Some people need a little more of the smart carbs and sweet potatoes or apple or something. But for me, when I really cut back on all those carbs, do really high fat, high protein, lots of greens and fiber, I feel like a different person. My focus, my energy, everything is more positive.

Daniel Amen, MD:          What diet really works best for you? I mean, ultimately it’s high quality calories, not too many of them. A couple of weeks ago, maybe a month ago, I could just feel it that things are a little tighter and throughout the pandemic I’ve been exercising, but things were just a little tighter. I actually put a tape measure around my waist and it’s optimal when it’s 31, it was 34. And I’m like, “That’s irritating.”

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      And some of that’s inflammation and bloating, it goes away somewhat quickly.

Daniel Amen, MD:          Well, it’s the chronic stress.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      Right.

Daniel Amen, MD:          I lost my dad, managing our eight, soon to be nine clinics. We had to close New York. I mean, there’s a lot.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      There’s a lot.

Daniel Amen, MD:          So for me, I start counting. I mean, everything I eat and we have a little scale on the counter, weigh, measure it and it’s just got to go on a budget dude.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Daniel Amen, MD:          And now my waist is 32, so almost back. And it just, you know I hate wasting money, that I think of calories the same way. You should stop wasting calories, how many you’re putting in your body, and the quality matters just as much as the quantity, both matter.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      And we have several podcasts and even on my… I have a blog on my site, if you go to on food and mood, because it is a little different for everybody, and that’s where we differ. People often ask, “Why is your program different than paleo or different than some of these other programs?” It’s different because we take your brain type into account. That’s a question we get all the time. Should I be eating carbs or no carbs? Should I go high protein, low carb? What should I do? And it really does depend on you, now if you’re going to eat carbs, we want you to eat smart carbs. Yeah, all those rules are in Brain Warriors Way, you can find them on my website, The cookbook really helps you to eat that way all the time. But for me, that is just a huge thing with my mood.

Daniel Amen, MD:          Well, and you can go to and for free, know your brain type. And as part of the information you’ll get is, well, what should I be eating? High protein, high smart carbohydrate. We’re a fan of healthy fat so all of the diets have healthy fat, but do you cheat more toward protein or more towards smart carbohydrates?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:      Right.

Daniel Amen, MD:          And you will be able to know. In dealing with anxiety, depression, trauma, and grief, getting into a routine, and the two things we talked about today, exercise, absolutely critical, head to head against antidepressants. They’ve been found to be equally effective and get your diet right for your brain type. Just know everybody’s stressed during this time, the people who will thrive, they have stress management practices. And I think for you it’s exercise. Same for me, I do 40 minutes of meetings in the morning while I’m walking, I’m just moving. Have a routine that works for you.

When we’re going to come back, we’re going to talk about more specific strategies for dealing with anxiety. Whatever you’ve learned, please write it down. Take a picture of it, post it on any of your social media sites. Go to, leave us a comment, question or review and we’ll enter you in for drawing for either The End of Mental Illness, my new book or Tana’s cookbook, Brain Warriors Way. 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 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 or a 10% discount on all supplements at For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.