Mental Health Awareness Month: Special Podcast Episodes

This month, I’m taking a break from the regular podcast content to bring episodes focused on bringing awareness to all the tools that support our mental health. Contrary to what the media may tell you, you can change your brain. You can heal from mental illness. You can access resources beyond medication and more sleep, and many of those resources are free, like these episodes.

In Episode 135, I share my story of overcoming PTSD, depression, and bipolar disorder in a way I haven’t shared before.

Key Topics:

  • The growing epidemic of mental health issues in teens
  • The root causes to my own mental health issues and how I struggled to find treatment that supported my mental well-being
  • The medication weaning process and how I was able to get off medication I had been on for 18 years
  • The tools I used to support healing and how I continue to prioritize my mental health to prevent recurring issues

Sponsors: Proven quality sleep is life-changing sleep. Go to sleepnumber.com/wholeness. Save 10% and get free shipping on Magnesium Breakthrough at magbreakthrough.com/spark.

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Identifying Root Causes of Bipolar Disorder

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (what they then called “manic depressive illness”) in 1999. While the diagnosis matched the symptoms I was experiencing, the treatment I received never seemed to make things better… and they never treated the root of why I was struggling.

While I have shared about my personal experience with bipolar disorder, PTSD, and depression and I have interviewed many different experts who share ways to treat the root of chronic disease, I have never devoted the majority of an episode to bipolar disorder and its root causes.

Ellen Vora, MD received her B.A. from Yale University and attended Columbia University medical school. She’s a board-certified psychiatrist, medical acupuncturist, and yoga teacher. Dr. Vora takes a functional medicine approach to mental health—considering the whole person and addressing imbalance at the root, rather than reflexively prescribing medication. Dr. Vora’s book, The Anatomy of Anxiety, comes out in March 2022.

Recording this episode was personal for me. It helped me put together the puzzle pieces of my health even further. Download here or listen wherever you get podcasts.

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Neurolinguistic Programming: The Stories We Created for Ourselves and How to Update Them

Rachel S. Heslin has been immersed in the study of psychology for over 40 years. Her father, a clinical psychologist, taught his children his craft such that Rachel was first introduced to Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) concepts when she was 9 years old.

Rachel is currently the author of two books: Navigating Life: 8 Different Strategies to Guide Your Way, and Rituals of Release: How to Make Room for Your New Life.  Her work through her company, The Fullness of Your Power, helps people embrace all parts of their true selves so they can live happier, more successful, and more deeply fulfilling lives.

Download this episode here or find wherever you get podcasts!

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Five Things Triggering Anxiety over the Holidays

They say this is the most wonderful time of the year, but for those of us who struggle with seasonal mood fluctuations, it often isn’t. I always try to make an effort to enter this season on the offense, instead of playing defense.

Here are five things that could be triggering anxiety and mood instability over the holiday season. The beauty of these things is that each one of them impact the other, because so many of these important processes are connected.

Poor sleep – Sleep deprivation leads to heightened activity in the amygdala (your fear brain) and decreases the function of the prefrontal cortex. With lack of restful sleep we become reactionary and it makes it difficult to make good decisions. Listen to your circadian rhythm this season, and choose to go to bed an hour earlier. That can make all the difference in the world for your brain. Cut the electronics an hour before bed or at least wear blue light blocking glasses, because blue light blocks melatonin, which we need for restful sleep.

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Healing Trauma: When It’s Not Safe to Feel Safe, Even When You’re Safe

It is well-established science that “the body keeps the score.” Trauma therapy is no small task, and sometimes traditional talk therapy doesn’t take people to the depths of healing they need.

In this episode, licensed professional counselor and EMDRIA certified EMDR therapist Heather Hall unpacks the phases of healing from trauma, and why it is important to take a whole body approach.

Download and listen here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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The Benefits of Carbs for Your Brain

To carb or not to carb? It seems it is always the debate in nutrition these days.

Yes, we need carbs, and carbs support our mental health.

The top benefits of carbohydrates for mental health are:

  1. They feed good gut bugs and create a more diverse microbiome.
  2. They help us sleep better!
  3. They improve mood health.
  4. They keep stress hormones in check.

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Yoga for Mental Health and Stress Resilience

Yoga isn’t just a “fitness trend.” There is so much data to support yoga as treatment for mental illness, trauma, and stress management.

In this episode, yoga instructor Luci Davis shares her love of yoga in a practical, helpful way! Download here or listen wherever you get podcasts.

Luci is the founder of “Pajama Yoga with Luci.” She began practicing yoga in 2006 following surgery and treatment for thyroid cancer. She believes yoga was integral to her recovery physically, mentally, and emotionally. Her motto is “practice with the body you have today.”

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The Power of Breathwork for Mental Health

Learning to breathe has been one of the most impactful tools for my healing.

When you experience trauma, on any level, the last thing you want to do is intentionally unite your body and mind. Stillness is scary; being present is scary. It is easier to run away, literally and figuratively, which sometimes can only lead to further dysregulation and disconnection between body and mind.

The connection is in the breath. Bringing balance to your breath impacts just about every single function of your body. For some reason, though, this tool goes underutilized by most people. Maybe it’s not “hard enough.” Maybe we don’t want to slow down long enough to try it. The excuses vary, but the takeaway must be – learn to breathe!

Top benefits of breathwork:

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How to Regulate Your Brain, Reduce Stress, and Get the Best Sleep Ever

Jim Poole is the Founder of of NuCalm, the world’s only patented neuroscience technology clinically proven to resolve stress and improve sleep quality without drugs.

In this episode, we break down the history of NuCalm and the software built by a quantum physicist, and how NuCalm is unlike any other tool out there. Download here or listen wherever you get podcasts!

Key Topics:

  • Background on the central nervous system and autonomic nervous system in regulating the brain
  • What our fear brain does to our logic brain – How the brain and body communicate
  • The method behind NuCalm
  • Types of brain waves
  • How brain cells affect mitochondria
  • What time of day to use NuCalm
  • How 20 minutes of NuCalm is equivalent to two hours of restorative sleep
  • The music used and the way it improves the vibration and stress response
  • How to get started with NuCalm

This interview is jam-packed with good information!

To learn more about how to access NuCalm for yourself, head to nucalm.com.

This episode is sponsored by Sleep Number. Introducing the new Sleep Number 360 p5 smart bed. Queen now only $1,799. Only at Sleep Number stores or sleepnumber.com/wholeness

Acknowledging Trauma, 30 Years Later

30 years ago, I stood at the bay window behind my left shoulder, and I watched my grandpa die on our front lawn. This was a pivotal moment for me.

This is the reason that I freeze up when there’s an emergency – even a mild one, like when my child gets a nosebleed. This is the reason that I space out from time to time. This is the reason I can’t have a proper reaction to sudden loss and I dissociate (as if there even is such a thing as a proper reaction to loss).

I spent a good 25 of these last 30 years kind of thinking that watching someone die at a young age is normal, that it’s my life’s burden, and I should just get over it and power through.

But my body knows better. Spring carries an undercurrent of sadness within the blooming beauty. When I smell honeysuckles, I experience fear, betrayal, abandonment, and sadness all over again. Every year since 1991, I typically find myself teary at some point in the middle of the month of April. The tears come without warning. And then I remember what month it is.

I don’t share this simply to bleed vulnerability all over the internet and incite sympathy. I say this because I know many of you have also experienced trauma, something that makes you feel alone at times, or different, or a shell of who you are.

Just like with mental health and nutrition, there is no one-size-fits-all to trauma. You may not be even be able to acknowledge it consciously. It may be showing up in ways you don’t expect; it may manifest as a chronic mental health issue or a physical ailment.

While 100% healing may never be a guarantee on this earth, a path to healing IS possible. Part of my path is sharing my story, hoping that it makes someone else who is struggling feel heard and understood. Even if our traumas are different.

Your pain is real. Your feelings are real. Your mystery symptoms are real.

April 16, 1991 was a cruelly tumultuous day in my childhood. While it’s a day that forever shaped my perspective of this world, it also brought restoration and healing and purpose I wouldn’t have had without it. It brought me to where I am today, fiercely advocating for wholeness and healing – mind, body and soul.