How Social Media Affects Our Mental Health

How can we manage our minds during the social media age? How can we best support our children and monitor their time on screens? How does “influencer culture” affect our kids’ mental health? Whether you’re using social media for entertainment, information, or to grow a business, excessive time on our devices can take a toll on our mental health.

Reena B. Patel is a renowned parenting expert, licensed educational psychologist, board-certified behavior analyst, and author of Winnie & Her Worries. For more than 20 years, Patel has had the privilege of working with families and children, supporting all aspects of education, mental health and positive wellness. She works extensively with typically developing children as well as children with exceptional needs, supporting their academic, behavioral and social/emotional development.

In this episode, we dig into all the hot topics in social media, and we discuss solutions and ways to use positive psychology work for your brain health. Download and listen here or find wherever you get podcasts!

Key Topics:

  • The way our brain has changed from social media
  • The negative impacts of social media on our mental health
  • The impact of influencer culture on adults and children
  • The use of positive psychology as a solution
  • The impact of gratitude
  • How help kids identify feelings and the physical symptoms of anxiety
  • The effect of screen time fatigue

To learn more about her books and services, visit her website here, and to get more parenting tips, follow her on Instagram @reenabpatel.

This episode is sponsored by Indeed. Get a free $75 credit on Indeed at indeed.com/spark.

The Science Behind Why We Eat What We Eat

Have you ever wondered why we have all the health and diet information in the world, yet there are still so many struggling to make the right decisions to improve their health? In this episode we cover the WHY behind making the food decisions we make.

Download and listen here or get wherever you find podcasts!

Jack Bobo is the CEO of Futurity, a food foresight company that advises companies, foundations and governments on emerging food trends and consumer attitudes and behaviors related to the future of food. Recognized by Scientific American in 2015 as one of the 100 most influential people in biotechnology, Jack is a global thought leader who has delivered more than 500 speeches in 50 countries.

His new book is called Why Smart People Make Bad Food Choices.

Key Topics:

  • The way our brain is biased against our efforts
  • Why we can’t just agree to disagree
  • How we have less trust in authority figures about our health
  • Confirmation bias in excess of information available today
  • Why people fear certain food over others
  • The “naturalness” bias
  • Why healthy food doesn’t taste good
  • The history of supersizing and unit bias
  • The “clean your plate” method and how it works against us
  • How our minds can trick us with what we’re eating, and the study that confirms it
  • Mental fatigue and decision fatigue in eating and grocery shopping
  • Solutions to change the way we think about our choices
  • Reshaping personal food space

Jack’s book is available now, and you can learn more about his work at this website. This episode is sponsored by Talkspace.

Get $100 off your first month with Talkspace when you use the code sparkingwholeness.

Five Common Myths About Mental Health

As we continue to suffer from a growing epidemic of mental illness in this country, and creating awareness is trending, we must take time to re-evaluate the way we handle this mental health conversation. As renowned psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen often says, mental health outcomes haven’t changed since the 1950s. Treatment options appear to be limited, because while we have plenty of medications, cases are skyrocketing.

However, there are new discussions happening, and a growing number of practitioners are seeking to support mental health with tools that were previously brushed aside. In order to move forward in our thinking about mental health, we need to dispel the myths that are often perpetuated by antiquated mentality on the topic.

Warning: some of these will be tough pills to swallow (pun intended), but they are all backed by the latest research. Please drop me a line if anything is questionable to you or you need further clarification. I’d love to have a longer discussion on the topic.

Continue reading “Five Common Myths About Mental Health”

How to Get Out of Your Own Way to Have a Healthier Marriage

Everyone knows creating a healthy marriage means putting in the work, but what work is valuable and what are some good ways to get started?

This episode dives deep into all the important marriage topics – with a brain health twist! Download and listen here or find wherever you get your podcasts.

Bill O’Herron, LCSW, is a corporate executive, practicing therapist, and writer who seeks to use his 33 years of financial sales management experience, 24 years of marriage, 15 years of counseling clients, and 8,500 hours of sitting quietly to help his clients better understand themselves and deepen their relationships.

Key Topics:

  • Male and female brain differences and how that impacts marriage
  • How the male brain develops differently than the female brain
  • Healthy emotional self-regulation instead of partner regulation
  • How relationships are the most important thing in life
  • Chronic stress’ impact on relationships
  • Reticular activating system: how it works and how it kills the marriage
  • How relaxing can trigger old memories and activity causes us to avoid self
  • Tuning in with your 4th grade self and why that matters
  • The deeper emotions that anger covers up

Learn more about Bill and his counseling practice at Wholecounseling.com and grab his book, Waking Up Marriage.

Get 20% off your first order of Ancient Nutrition collagen when you use the code sparking at checkout.

Integrating Eastern Medicine Tools for Better Sleep, Stress Resilience, and Digestion

Jacqueline Gomez is the founder and CEO of Welleum, a company that brings Eastern medicine to the modern Western World.

In this episode, we dig into why more and more people are seeking out alternative health solutions, the hesitancy some may have in trying something new, and how Welleum offers a way to advocate for your health with resources and solutions that work.

Download and listen here or find wherever you get podcasts.

Key Topics:

  • What is Eastern medicine and why do we hesitate to utilize it?
  • The stress-body connection
  • “Pop-a-pill” culture and the need to treat the root
  • Why people are now turning to Eastern medicine
  • The resources provided by Welleum, along with their tinctures
  • How your boy is designed to function like a clock
  • Stress management tips
  • How to integrate Eastern and Western medicine and how it doesn’t have to be either/or
  • Developing a schedule to benefit whole body health
  • Ingredients in Welleum tinctures and science behind it
  • Correcting digestive imbalances

To learn more about Welleum and try their products, head to their website here.

This podcast is sponsored by Sleep Number. Save $1,000 on the NEW Sleep Number 360 special edition smart bed. Head to sleepnumber.com/wholeness to check it out!

More Stories from the Mental Illness Memory Vault – My Surprise Pregnancy

My baby graduated high school this weekend! It brought up so many emotions for me. I can’t help but feel weepy and nostalgic as I reflect on her life – and who I was when she entered my life.

In case you don’t know my story… I found out I was pregnant with her my senior year of college.

I was not stable mentally and taking a pretty heavy dose of Depakote at that time – something you definitely should not be on if you’re going to get pregnant, due to major risk of birth defects. I was encouraged to terminate the pregnancy.

Continue reading “More Stories from the Mental Illness Memory Vault – My Surprise Pregnancy”

Understanding and Embracing the Healing Power of Herbs

Adaptogenic herbs are getting a lot of buzz in the health world, so this episode is a dive into all things herbs and herbalism, with herbalist and writer Brittany Ducham.

Brittany’s new book, Radical Remedies, is a great starter for anyone wanting to learn more about how to use herbs to support health and well-being. In this conversation, we discuss her new book and how to individualize your personal use of herbs to support your health goals.

Download this episode and listen here, or find wherever you get podcasts!

Key Topics:

  • Brittany’s background in herbalism
  • How herbalism is a form of empowerment and activism and background on her book, Radical Remedies
  • Herbal energetics and elemental forces and how different people need different things
  • Herbs for mental health support, anxiety, stress, and tension
  • Digestive support and herbs that improve gut health
  • Adaptogens – what they are and how they help
  • How to get started with herbs without getting overwhelmed
  • Where to find herbal tinctures and formulations that are good quality
  • The interconnectedness of our world with plants and nature’s healing power

Find more information about Brittany and herbalism at her website here and follow her on Instagram at spellboundherbals.

Get a free $75 credit from Indeed when you go to indeed.com/spark

Top Brain Health Killers and How to Flip the Script

Five things will always sabotage your mental well-being:

  1. Lack of sleep.
  2. Lack of nutrients.
  3. Lack of sunshine.
  4. Lack of movement.
  5. Lack of community.

I could leave it at that. It’s a whole post in itself.

But I want to flip this, because most of us know these things on some level. However, during times of stress, we often forget to take care of ourselves. We forget that we humans are basically just plants, and plants left without care will wither and die.

We were not designed to stay inside all day, blinking back at a screen with artificial light, head and neck perpetually tilted downward while the rest of our body is unmoving, eating food that is filled with hard-to-digest chemicals and additives, with a schedule so packed we don’t make time for people who are important to us.

Yes, I know that was a massive run-on sentence. It was exhausting (and convicting) typing it out.

Times of brief stress and opposition can be helpful for the body, but when we are continuously stressed, doggy-paddling up to the surface of the water all day long, we will start to feel side effects. It will impact our physical body’s health, and it will most definitely affect our brain’s health. It will cause us to be unable to make clear decisions, show empathy, and connect well with others – because we are in survival mode.

Our bodies are amazing at survival – that’s why you’re here. You’re here because your ancestors survived during difficult times. You gain weight after you diet because your ancestors were able to store weight during famine and not die. Your digestive discomfort is physical evidence that your body knows how to respond to mental stress and anxiety. Your blood sugar fluctuates in order to adapt to emotional stressors and physical stressors on your body. Your hormones are wacky, because duh, it’s never optimal to reproduce when there is a famine or threat to your safety (remember – your body doesn’t know the difference between a stressful job or a T rex chasing you). Even your afternoon fatigue that hits you like a load is a sign that you are overflowing with stress chemicals, and your body’s response system is working properly.

Your body is doing all the right things it is supposed to do. Your body is on your side.

Continue reading “Top Brain Health Killers and How to Flip the Script”

Food, Fertility, and Faith: What is the Connection?

Fertility and reproductive health are hot topics in the world of health and wellness right now. Many women (and men) are struggling and looking for natural tools for support. In this latest podcast episode with one of the leading experts in the field, we cover it all!

Download here or listen wherever you get podcasts.

Dr. Robert Kiltz is a board-certified OB/GYN and reproductive endocrinologist, and Founder and Director of CNY Fertility, one of the largest and most dynamic fertility centers in the country, featured in the Wall Street Journal, Today Show, and CNBC for helping shape the future of fertility medicine. In this fascinating episode, we discuss how to merge intuition and ancestral wisdom with the latest science for fertility and overall health and well-being.

Key Topics:

  • Myths and misconceptions of fertility
  • Difference in Western medicine and taking a holistic perspective
  • The impact of stress on our physiology
  • How food factors in and creates inflammation
  • Obesity is not the cause of disease; it’s a symptom
  • Plant toxins and a carnivore approach to health
  • How the glycobiome trumps the microbiome
  • Prejudice and bias in science

“Living Your Best Life: How to Think, Eat, and Connect your Way to a Better Flow” by Dr. Robert Kiltz is now available on Amazon or at DoctorKiltz.com. For more information, visit Dr. Kiltz’s website, or follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Get $100 off your first month of therapy with Talkspace.com when you use the code sparkingwholeness.

Moving and My Mental Health

A few years ago, I said to my husband Richard, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a type of counseling center that has regular counseling, all the helpful therapy support, along with nutrition, yoga, and other tools for healing?” He agreed it would be a great idea, and we said… “one day.”

Well that one day is here! We are so thrilled to follow the path that we believe has been so clearly laid out for us. We are going to be working together at a holistic counseling and wellness center in East Texas, called Living Well Tyler.

Tyler is a place that contains sad memories for me, but it is also filled with memories of so much hope and redemption. I first moved there at nine years old, fresh from the Bay Area of California, and six months later I witnessed the death of my grandfather on my front lawn. I spent my mentally tumultuous teen years in Tyler, but I also met my best friends there. I graduated college there. My first child was born there. I went on my first date with my husband there. Almost two decades after leaving, It feels special and fitting to be able to move our family there at this time.

This verse was read during a contemplative prayer session with the soul care director at Living Well a couple months ago, and it has been such a source of comfort as I process this transition:

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – ‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:16-19‬

Any kind of change – even good change – is a trigger for my mental health. The unknown, the “what ifs,” can heighten worry and anxiety.

Continue reading “Moving and My Mental Health”