About Our Guest- Dr. Heidi Hanna – Stress Mastery
Dr. Heidi Hanna is the Chief Energy Officer of Synergy Brain Fitness, a company providing brain-based health and performance programs to individuals and organizations, a Founding Partner of the Academy for Brain Health and Performance and a Fellow and Advisory Board Member for the American Institute of Stress. She is a NY Times bestselling author of several books, including The Sharp Solution, Stressaholic, and Recharge. Her next book, The Adaptability Quotient will be published in 2022. Heidi has been featured at many global conferences including the Fortune Magazine Most Powerful Women in Business Summit, ESPN Leadership Summit and the Million Dollar Round Table. Her clients have included Google, Starbucks, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, and WD40 as well as the PGA Tour and the National Football League. Heidi is also a Certified Humor Professional with the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor although she won’t admit she’s funny.
Full Podcast Transcription
Dr. Heidi Hanna 00:06
It’s gonna sound cheesy, until people really kind of hang in there with me long enough to know I’m not the kind of person that just like flips the switch and thinks we should all think positively. But I do believe stressing it’s a blessing when we know how to use it for good. So that energy that we get is good when we know how to use it. And that’s the part that I think most people don’t understand. Because we’ve been taught that emotions are bad. We’ve been taught that we’re too sensitive, too emotional, too whatever. And so we start to push that down where it literally becomes embodied into our nervous system and starts to cause all sorts of problems.
Diva Nagula 02:10
Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of From Doctor to Patient. Today I’m joined with Dr. Heidi Hanna. She is the Chief Energy Officer of Synergy Brain Fitness, a company providing brain-based health and performance programs to individuals and organizations, a founding partner of the Academy for Brain Health and Performance, and a fellow advisory board member for the American Institute of Stress. She’s a New York Times bestselling author of several books, including The Sharp Solution, Stressaholic and Recharge. Her next book, the Adaptability Quotient, will be published in 2022. Heidi has been featured in many global conferences, including the Fortune Magazine Most Powerful Women in Business Summit, ESPN Leadership Summit and The Million Dollar Roundtable. Her clients have included Google, Starbucks, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, WD40, as well as the PGA Tour and the National Football League. She’s also a certified Human Professional with the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. Although she won’t admit she’s funny. Heidi, thank you so much for joining me. How are you today?
Dr. Heidi Hanna 03:36
I am so good. I have a huge smile on my face. And I know people probably can’t see that. But hopefully they can hear it. As I was sharing with you before we started it is stormy in San Diego today. And normally we can’t complain about our weather. So I feel like just for one day. It’s kind of cool. It’s kind of pretty. And one of the things that I do in my research actually look at the benefits of being at the beach for your brain. So it’s kind of a trip today to be watching the waves and kind of saying like, life is kind of full of swells right now. Like what can we learn from that? And what do we do with that? So it seems fitting for our conversation today.
Diva Nagula 04:16
It’s interesting that you’re having that type of weather, in DC I think it’s pretty much the coldest week coming out of the coldest weekend that we’ve had this winter thus far. And I think it’s gonna get colder this week. So something in the air….
Dr. Heidi Hanna 04:29
Something is in the air and people are feeling it. And I think you know, getting to what we’re going to be talking about. I keep trying to remind people that this unsettled feeling that everyone has is normal. It’s like we are adapting to unusual circumstances and we have a choice as to how we adapt and that’s that’s one of the things I’m writing in my new book that just fascinates me is so much of the disease and disorder we see as from maladapting to circumstance And what can happen when we start to change those patterns?
Diva Nagula 05:05
And also, in addition, I think people who are empathic, you know, not necessarily have to be fully empathic, but maybe fall on that spectrum. I mean, they’re feeling all of the Collective’s, you know, energies, which, sometimes people who aren’t in tune with that they think it’s their own stuff. And really, they’re feeling other people’s stuff.
Dr. Heidi Hanna 05:23
100% I have full blown vertigo today, partially from the wind, but partially from the unrest. And I was like that since I was a little kid, but at the time, I was told I was too sensitive or too emotional, or too much of this and not enough of that. And I know many of us have that story. But it’s amazing what happens when you do start to understand there’s a gift in that sensitivity once you learn how to actually use it. Exactly.
Diva Nagula 05:49
Yeah, that’s how I think of it now I know it’s a gift. And it’s like, Okay, if there are people around me, that where I’m feeling their energies, and it’s like anxiousness, or sadness, or whatever it is, you know, and I know it’s not mine, I can immediately know that I can help them and then you know, and I can alleviate their, their anxiousness or whatever emotions that they’re not adapting to.
Dr. Heidi Hanna 06:11
And, and you know, I’m sure as well as I do, if we don’t recognize that it’s not ours, we start to take it in and actually physically embody it. And one of the things I started sharing a couple of years ago, this showed up for me, and something called vasovagal syndrome, which a lot of people have never heard that, but it’s anxiety induced so it’s like for people when they stand up too fast, and they get dizzy and feel like they’re gonna lose consciousness, but if I get anxious, that happens, if I’m on my computer too much, that happens, I actually forget to breathe, which I can laugh about now. But it’s not always convenient in meetings or interviews, or first dates or airplanes over water. You know, it’s it’s not always been convenient. But that is kind of the extreme case of your nervous system saying, we need out of here, and you obviously can’t get us out of here. So we’re just gonna take a break for a while.
Diva Nagula 07:04
Exactly. And it’s interesting, I think it’s all really about how we respond to being in flight or flight and how resilient our bodies are from being in a heightened state of fight or flight. So let’s go ahead and just dive into like talking about stress. And so what is the definition of stress?
Dr. Heidi Hanna 07:25
Oh, I love it. This is my favorite thing to talk about. And I always warn people, be careful what you claim to be an expert, because you will get tested and you will continue to get tested as I have. And for me my stress journey really started at such a young age when I was losing consciousness, and we didn’t know what was going on. And ultimately, the doctor said, it’s probably just stress. Why was 11-12 I had no idea what to do with that. And again, it was embarrassing, and a lot of social situations. So I developed social anxiety because of it. And so my whole life, really until my early 40s. That’s not that long ago, I was feeling like I was being hijacked by stress. So I became fascinated with it and trying to understand for myself, and then realizing how many of our issues are related to this unhealthy relationship with stress. So in and of itself, there is actually a very simple definition. And that is that stress is what happens when demand exceeds capacity. And the reason I think this definition is so critical, is that it’s not good, and it’s not bad. It’s essentially energy potential that can be used in positive or negative ways. So if you go all the way back to Hans Selye who first really coined the term stress the way we use it now, that’s really what he was looking at, he was looking at animals who are having a series of reactions based on getting an injection. So it didn’t matter what the injection had in it, it was the trauma of getting the injection, that was causing these symptoms that have been shown in man for a long time and blamed on you know, a million different things. So he starts talking about stress and being a really good entrepreneur. The media takes hold of it, everyone’s talking about it, he becomes the godfather of stress. And now stress becomes this evil thing. Later, he’s quoted for saying, you know, stress, in addition to being itself is both the cause and the result of itself. Like stress has become so complicated that it’s stressful to think about talking about stress. But then he tried to clarify it with eustress and distress. So some people who’ve studied this know that we would call eustress would be kind of the good type of stress that you grow from and that’s the eustress and then distress is the type that is negative and breaks you down but my question that people is always have you ever had something good happen? And then had a bad outcome, or have you ever had something bad happen and have a good outcome. So it’s not really the stress sore. It’s this whole dynamic. And that’s the part that fascinates me. Because we know that it’s not just how much stress it’s kind of like physical exercise, how much are you getting? When are you getting? How often? Are you getting it? What’s the intensity of that? We think about stress the same all those factors matter. Plus, to your point, when we started, what is the body capable of? What’s our resilience? And to me, there’s a big difference between resilience and what I’m trying to teach now, which is positive adaptability. Because resilience just takes you back to where you were positive adaptability takes you to a better place, because of what you’ve experienced. And that’s what we have the potential to do. And to me, that’s like the most exciting thing to talk about. So thank you for giving me the opportunity.
Diva Nagula 10:52
And it’s it’s really, you brought up a bunch of cool points. So we talked about how trust is when demand is greater than capacity. So ideally, by the definition standards, we could mitigate stress or modulate stress by reducing the demand or increasing our capacity. Right? So you know, what can we do from a vantage of reducing or increasing our capacity, because everyone can probably figure out how to mitigate stress, but it’s like, okay, I can increase the capacity to hold on. So that is really curious for me. So I mean, what are some tips that are some things that you can give us in terms of increasing capacity is one of the ways to modulate and improve our stressors?
Dr. Heidi Hanna 11:36
I love that. So my second favorite word after stress is curious. And that is one of the best things people can do. I wrote a book, a mini book, that I want to turn into a bigger book at some point, called the Curiosity Effect. It’s essentially what happens when we get into the state of curiosity. I talked about it in my TEDx talk. Because for me, that was a huge turning point. And so that’s probably the first step without even knowing until you cued me with that word. The first step is really to get curious. And that’s why I call myself a stress detective. Like, if someone says I’m stressed, I don’t even know what that means. That could mean a million different things. Like I’m really stressed right now. Because I’m talking to you and I want to do a good job. That’s awesome. stress. That’s excitement.
Diva Nagula 12:19 That’s eustress?
Dr. Heidi Hanna 12:20
That’s eustress. And then the outcome of that we’ll see right, what happens. But same with speaking, I mean, my two biggest fears growing up, were public speaking and flying, and now I fly around the world to do public speaking. And I’ll tell you, I still get sick. Sometimes for days before I do it, you know, just with my stomach in knots, because I want to do a good job. But what I’ve realized is, it’s not so much that it’s a threat to my survival. But it’s who I am, that makes me want to do a really good job. And that’s a blessing. And that’s, it’s gonna sound cheesy, until people really kind of hang in there with me long enough to know I’m not the kind of person that just like flips the switch and thinks we should all think positively. But I do believe stressing, it’s a blessing when we know how to use it for good. So that energy that we get is good when we know how to use it. And that’s the part that I think most people don’t understand. Because we’ve been taught that emotions are bad, we’ve been taught that we’re too sensitive to emotional to whatever. And so we start to push that down, where it literally becomes embodied into our nervous system and starts to cause all sorts of problems. So if we get curious, you know, in my TEDx talk, I talked about the fact that for whatever reason, anytime I go near the ocean, I hear the jaws music ever since I can remember being a kid. And I’m not really scared of sharks so much, but I just hear that sound. And then I get this really anxious feeling. And I noticed that the only time I could go in the ocean and not have that experience was when I was looking for something. So if I was looking for rocks, or shells, or if I was curious about something, I didn’t hear the sound. And the one time didn’t even hear a smidge of the sound was when my niece got swept into an undertow, and I had to go get her out, never even thought about it, right? So I like to have these experiences and then kind of unpack it and say, okay, curiosity, proactively in the moment, curiosity and trying to understand what’s there and see what kind of benefit there could be to us is powerful, and reactively, when something really is happening, if we have a sense of meaning, and purpose and connection, we can do anything. And we see so many examples of that. So a lot of this, as you know, comes from research and like post traumatic growth, as opposed to post traumatic stress disorder. And people are radically adaptable, if they have the right training stress, the right amount, the right time and the right intensity, and the most important thing is recovery time to recharge and repair. And that’s what we’re missing. That’s why I love that you’re focusing on the capacity part is, we have enough stress, we’re getting tested enough. It’s like working out nonstop. But when are we replenishing ourselves? What are we feeding our nervous system? Not just our food and our exercise, but what kind of information? Are we feeding our nervous system? First thing in the morning when we check our cell phones, or when we watch the news, and we haven’t primed the brain to be in a more positive adaptive state?
Diva Nagula 15:29
That’s really a great deal to unpack. What I was curious, in terms of this past year. I mean, are we more stressed out as a society? Because we are lacking community? Because we’re in isolation?
Dr. Heidi Hanna 15:46
No question. And even that term, stressed out, I think, is an important one to think about. We are not more stressed, but we are more stressed out. That’s the reaction. And even going back to that original definition, we are talking about a lot of people call fight or flight, the stress response. And I know it’s just semantics. But obviously, if you’ve ever heard me, and probably just in this interview, I love semantics, like, it’s not a response. A response is when your total brain is online, and you’re making choices. The fight/flightfreeze or faint, is a series of reactions. These are primitive, they’re designed to help us survive. We all know that. So how do we move from reacting to responding, we have to have a series of resources, and there’s a lot of different types. social connection is showing time and time again, to be the most important. And I’m actually an introvert, I have social anxiety, I mentioned that I think it comes from my fainting thing when I was younger, primarily. But I do think it’s important that we think about the quality of our relationships, not the quantity. And I think that’s where we’re getting thrown off a little bit. With so much social media, so much zoom meetings, so many zoom meetings, you know, we can be connected 24/7 we are in a global economy. So many of the clients I’m working with have employees who literally are on calls and meetings, 24/7 we don’t operate that way. So we’re not dealing with more actual survival based stress. But we have so much more demand on us with this 24/7 connection, and so much less capacity, because we’re not being human together. As often as we should be. We’re not just eating, we’re eating and watching TV or working, we’re not just working out, we’re working out and checking our email, the more we can be fully present in the moment and have deeper meaningful social connections, the more we really fill our own tank back up again.
Diva Nagula 17:54
That’s an interesting thought. Because being present, I feel that that can increase capacity. And I feel for me personally, if my mind is that default mode network is just super active, and that monkey brain is just going a million miles a second. And it lessens the capacity, so any little stressor it can really exacerbate the response. But I feel like if I’m more present, I have a larger capacity. And the only reason why I’m mentioning this is because yesterday, I had to do this really menial task of just data entry. And I had to do it for five hours straight. And I had to be present in order for me to do this correctly. And honestly, it wasn’t that stressful it was actually not bad the task at hand. But I noticed after I got done, and then today, like I feel great. And I’m wondering if it’s because those five hours of being present, allow me to increase my capacity to tolerate stress.
Dr. Heidi Hanna 18:59
No question. And it’s funny, I’m laughing a little bit because I have to do that grading some final exams for my class on Saturday. And I was doing this part that was really pretty easy. But, you know, 50 students, and they had to go through all of the exams. And I remember thinking about that, because I wanted to be watching the news or I wanted to do something else while I was doing this, but these kids, like some of our my age, but these students really worked hard at this. And again, it was the connection and the meaning and the purpose that pulled me into that moment and allowed me to be present. I think there’s two things that are important on this note and one is that if you are fully engaged and fully present, it can also be really exhausting. Because a lot of the world isn’t. So if I’m on a call, I was on a phone call with my dad a couple days ago and he was eating at the same time and there’s lots of background noise and I finally said to him. Can you call me back when you’re done? I’m listening so carefully to him that I’m picking up all this other static & noise. And it for me physically makes me sick because I’m so sensitive. And it’s those types of things. So I think when you understand yourself more, and you know, I’m giving a gift of my full presence, I’d rather talk for five minutes and talk for 15 minutes if those five minutes are quality, but I can also have healthy boundaries to say, why don’t you give me a call back when you’re done eating, I don’t need to be mean about it, instead of having the conversation of back my mind doing what a jerk that he can’t just put a fork down for five minutes to talk to me like, okay, stand up for yourself. And let’s continue this later. I think that’s important is full engagement, full presence, especially if you’re not used to doing it, and you’re not setting healthy boundaries is exhausting. On the other hand, multitasking, will not only exhaust you that it’ll kill your brain cells, it’ll make you stupid, it’ll make you fat, because your stress hormones are going to go up and it’s gonna make you sick. And we know how much disease is connected to chronic stress. Multitasking is the thing people do all day, every day. And it’s probably the most hazardous thing we do not just because we’re texting and driving, or walking across the crosswalk and texting and getting hit by a car, which is horrific. But because we’re doing it so nonchalantly that it’s causing inflammation in our brains all day long. Not to mention that signal, it’s giving the other person which basically says you’re not as important as this other thing. But I need to keep tracking this, you know, digital leaf in my hands are in my pocket or whatever it might be.
Diva Nagula 21:33
So it’s probably not a good idea to mention that as we’re doing our interview, I had to read a
text message that came through on my screen.
Dr. Heidi Hanna 21:41
I didn’t notice so I was busy watching the surf waves here in San Diego. So you know that happens, and I want to say like, Look, we’re all figuring this out, we’re all trying the best we can to practice what we preach, I usually have my phone facedown, I usually don’t have it on the table. If I’m in a meeting, right now it is on silent. And it’s not even somewhere where if it vibrates all hear it or feel it. That’s intentional when I can, there are other times I can’t and I’m sure you’re the same people who have kids, young kids and need to kind of be constantly connected, we get that. All I’m saying is be mindful about it. And there’s actually settings you can use on your devices that will control how much you get notified. And I always say actually practice going on airplane mode, even when you’re on the ground. Because there’s something really empowering. And I think non-consciously the brain recognizes when we say I’m just not available right now. I’m actually on faculty with an amazing group called The Digital Wellness Institute. And we’re actually doing research and educating practitioners on how to manage their digital wellness and digital flourishing. And part of the reason I got into it was because I’m so resistant to technology, because I’m so affected by it, but it’s not going anywhere. And it actually brings a lot of value. So I like this idea of saying similar to a stress, how do we first know ourselves and know what we need? And then how do we make it our friend instead of our enemy and I think the same when it comes to stress and stimulation and all of that.
Diva Nagula 24:22
You mentioned a little while ago that you know stress can have an impact on the hormones and caused you to get fat and overweight. So what other physiological ways can stress impact specifically our brain in our body?
Dr. Heidi Hanna 24:36
Yeah, every way every way. There’s a couple ways I tend to think about this. Number one we know inflammation is such a cause or a confounding factor of any disease or disorder. So stress causes inflammation as a way to try to protect us from whatever potential threat we are being triggered by and the problem is not the inflammation, we want the inflammation, but we want it to be short term so that we then get a break to heal. I often tell my younger students that it’s kind of like if you were to go to the hospital or get an IV drip of glucose, you know, if something happened to you, we wouldn’t give you a drip of constant glucose, because you have to have sugar. And then you have to have insulin, insulin needs to deliver the sugar to the cells in order to get the whole system to work. Similar with stress, it’s not that stress is bad. In fact, it’s going to give you some energy, it’s going to help you to focus pay attention, it’s actually gonna improve your immune function for a short period of time. The problem is, if it’s constantly being released your body and your brain can’t do what they need to do with it. So everything that could go wrong, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, you name it. Chronic stress is one of the top if not the top, risk factor. You know, we look at Alzheimer’s disease, I’ve had three grandparents with Alzheimer’s disease, I do a lot of research now on the impact of stress on the brain. And I always say it’s the one thing that we have some control of that has the biggest impact. I mean, we can’t do anything about our age or gender. And we know those things matter. We know our genetics matter. But as you know, and probably your listeners know, this whole field of epigenetics is how do those genes turn on or turn off. And there’s a lot of these underlying genetic predispositions that there’s nothing like a good cocktail of stress hormones to get those things to fire. And I’ve had people come up to me and say, I know for a fact, I got cancer, because of what I was going through in my life and how traumatic it was. I know for a fact for me, my body was causing me to faint. And that was a protective mechanism that I couldn’t turn off because I didn’t have the ability at a young age to speak up for myself in certain situations. So I would get stomach aches and headaches. And then I started fainting. And of course, it was diagnosed as lactose intolerance, or I mean, it was like everything, you could imagine it and got thrown out this other than the real cause, which was I couldn’t speak up to get myself out of situations that I didn’t feel like we’re safe. So there’s so many great references. One book that I think everyone who’s interested in this should read is The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Vander Kolk. I think it just really emphasizes that, of course, I could probably give 100 books I think everyone should read. But I think that’s one of the great ones that helps us look at that. The other one would be probably, Robert Sapolsky, his book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers from the standpoint of what stress does physiologically. To me, it’s kind of the stress Bible for understanding the mind body connection.
Diva Nagula 27:49
Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s also something to do something to say about whether it’s acute form or stress versus chronic. For me, I think for chronic diseases in for cancer, and other diseases that fall into the chronic pattern is really about a long term type of stress that you’re enduring, that isn’t modulated on a very good basis, and is just constant. And for me, when I suffered from non-Hodgkins lymphoma, you know, as you know, lymphoma isn’t something that’s genetic or hereditary, or it’s not something that’s, that is attributed to something that you do on a specific day or night, it’s more about a accumulation of your body being encountered with a lot of stress. And that’s what happened for me, I was it was just years of not understanding how to modulate and living in a state of fight or flight.
Dr. Heidi Hanna 28:42
And I want to add, because this question comes up from people a lot, especially people who are lifelong learners, like you and me. And there’s a lot of research about what we might call ancestral stress. And that that’s real. And what’s fascinating to me about that is it’s not even so much the genes, it’s not that you would necessarily have a genetic predisposition, but almost like the nervous system gets encoded with this really important information that may not show up in your genes or may not have expressed itself in your your family’s genes, but is waiting to be triggered by something. I can look back and see very clearly and it seems like the older we get, the more we kind of learn about our family history, especially if you have access to some of the different tests that are available now; mental health issues, trauma issues, depending on your age, whatever your grandparents grandparents were dealing with that has the potential to be encoded into your nervous system. So I remember at one point asking my mom, you know, were you stressed, did you drink when you were pregnant with me? Were you stressed when you’re pregnant with me? And her response was I was married to your Dad, what do you think? So I didn’t My question quickly, and I love my Dad, but he’s intense. And so he also has vasovagal syndrome, but they didn’t know what it was. So when my mom was pregnant with me, my dad walks in the door after basketball practice one day and faints. And here she is, you know, getting ready to have the baby and her husband loses consciousness. I mean, it’s that kind of stuff where those stress hormones in her system are now activating a chemical cascade that I’m swimming around in, and I come out into the world. And my system is so sensitive, and so ready to go into fight/flight/freeze/faint and mine chose faint. So I just it makes sense. Again, it’s the part about kind of taking our relationship with stress. And I look at three factors in that I look at the stress load, which is the actual demand versus capacity, the stress lens, which is our perspective, our mindset, our nonconscious, biases, those types of things that really shape how we see stress, and then our stress signature. And that’s how it shows up and everyone’s stress signature is different. But if you ask the question, when I’m stressed out what happens first and try to get to the root? Is it a headache? Is it muscle tension? Is it heart palpitations? Is it dizziness, like what’s going on, because all of those signals tell you something about what you are recharged strategies. So if you have muscle tension, then stretching, physical exercise or massage are going to be really good. If you have some dizziness or something kind of feels like in the top of your head, something like essential oils, or meditation or music. There’s so many great technologies and, and tools and things available. Now I’ve always got ’em around. You know, I think movement and meditation, and aroma therapy, any sensory cues that we can use are really good. And this is also where humor plays a big part for me, because you can train your brain to see things in a funnier way. So a lot of people that say don’t have a sense of humor, you do have one, you just have to find it again. So get curious, what did you find funny when you were a kid. And it doesn’t have to even be politically correct, like, find your own funny, you don’t have to tell it to anybody but find it, nurture it, and try to have a humor homey. I like to call them or a buddy that you can share it with. Because if you do that, I’m telling you one of the most powerful things you can do. If for just one week, every day you share something funny with one person and start that process, it will completely change the way you see the world. And if you have kids at home, there’s a really good one, it’s very similar to the gratitude exercises of writing down three things you’re grateful for. And the research has shown it has a very similar impact for up to six months later. So if you do this for a period of time, your brain starts to now look for those patterns of being amazed and amused is the way I like to think about it.
Diva Nagula 32:56
So it’s interesting. So really, some simple hacks to manage stress would be something like, you know, humor, being curious and expressing gratitude on a regular basis.
Dr. Heidi Hanna 33:08
Absolutely. I mean, in just hearing those, if I sit with that, like, yeah, that’s how I want to live, I want to find the funny, I want to be grateful. I want to serve others. I mean, all of these types of things experience more joy. I think everybody wants that. The challenge is the gap between what we know and what we do. I call it the no-do gap, we don’t do it, because we know it’s out there. But it’s either too big of a goal, or we’re too perfectionistic or whatever, we just have to make it super, super easy. We have to anchor it with another habit. So if you want to take your vitamins, put it by your toothbrush or your coffee pot, like make it as easy as possible. And then we have to celebrate those wins regularly. I know it sounds silly. But if you have a habit that you’re trying to create, take a picture of it, send it to your buddy, like we need accountability, we need them to be like tiny habits. I love that tiny habits, philosophy. And the more we do that a little bit at a time, we can completely change our relationship with stress. And I know for a fact, you know, last year I went through the worst nine months of depression and I’ve ever been through. And I’m happier now than I’ve ever been, I’m grateful to say. And people keep asking me what what changed? What was the thing, and I really sat and I wrote about it in a blog that I hope to get out today or tomorrow. But there’s 25 things. There’s 25 things that I did that made a big difference. And none of them are rocket science, but I did them and even the things that weren’t mind blowing, were helpful because I was brave enough to try. And I think at the end of the day, having that kind of attitude of curiosity and gratitude and a little bit of humor is a really powerful way to, to shift stress in a positive way.
Diva Nagula 35:04
And personally, you’ve written some books, you’re very well versed in the area of stress
management. So what are your go to stress management strategies?
Dr. Heidi Hanna 35:15
So really, I mean, the things that we’re talking about, and as I started rattling them off, I was like, What? Because I used to always say, you know, Heidi’s High Five – the five things I would do every morning, and then I’d kind of tweak it a little bit, but is always movement, meditation. And I was trying to remember, because I’m like, there’s five things and they all start with “m.” So what were the other things…..music, aromatherapy, which doesn’t start with an “m.” Massage. So I’ve got a whole list now, and they don’t have to start with “m” to be good. But yeah, I think it’s for anybody, the key I would say, is, do the thing that you know, when you do, it gives you the biggest return on investment, that’s not too difficult to do. And we have to change our story before we’re going to change our habits. So we really have to believe that taking care of ourselves is not selfish. And this is so challenging for people, we have to know that our energy is our best resource, we have to continue to recharge that it is not optional, it’s mandatory. It’s putting your oxygen mask on first. It’s all the cheesey things we hear, but we don’t believe them. And I get a massage every single week when we are not closed down. And I still try to sneak people in to give me a massage at home when I can. And that was really hard for me. But I’ve been doing it for 15 years now, because I was hospitalized with a panic attack that wouldn’t stop for about two weeks. And I knew I either had to quit my job, or I had to do something drastic. And again, it’s that commitment to say, there’s times when I actually don’t want to get a massage. But I do it. Because I know I’m better for it. I’m better for my clients and better for my family. But we have to believe it and make it a priority where it’s seriously not an option. And so I think of everything we’ve talked about that maybe one of the most important as what do you have to tell yourself to make this mandatory?
Diva Nagula 37:19
Yeah I agree. I mean, for me, I just recently went from every two weeks to every week on for my massages. And it’s simply because I tend to store my stress in my body all over, and especially my upper traps and my hips.
Dr. Heidi Hanna 37:34
Now I’m rubbing my shoulders as you talk!
Diva Nagula 37:36
And I’ve noticed that if I leave it, if I let it go for a longer period of time, my levels of stress increased. So it’s like, alright, well, let me just do it weekly and see what happens. And I’ve noticed as I’ve been doing, my heart rate variability has actually gone up and it’s just seems to be alleviating some of the stress because it just escapes my body before has this chance to really sink in and make an imprint in there forever.
Dr. Heidi Hanna 38:01
So me too, because I remember when I first had the thought that I wanted to get more massage, my first reaction was “who do you think you are? Professional athelete? And then why am I not as important as a professional athlete? Like, I should be doing this every single day? Actually, my job might be? Maybe Is there a possibility? And I always ask this is my curiosity, is there a possibility that what I’m trying to do, which actually at the root is to stop suicide? And make suicide no longer an option for anyone ever again? Is that more important than a professional athlete? I don’t know, at the moment, I think that it is. So why wouldn’t I do everything I possibly can to be in the best mental and physical shape to deliver that message.
Diva Nagula 38:45
And the way I look at it is, is that if I had someone in my household, you know, like a child who needed it, and I love that child enough where I could sit there and afford, and have the ability to have a therapist come to my house for my child. I can do it for myself. I mean, it’s all about self love, right? So and that’s kind of been my mantra for the years more self love, and self love that. That’s what I’m doing for myself.
Dr. Heidi Hanna 39:11
Good. And you know what you then model it. One of the things I’m so tired of is the people who say one thing and do another. It’s just not okay. And I could go on and on and on with names that people would recognize. I just, we can’t do that. If we have a voice and you have a voice. We have to show people that you’re never so important that you have to be so stressed. It doesn’t work that way. In fact, the more important your work is, the more you should be taking care of yourself. I remember hearing Marianne Williamson say that once and I think others have probably said the same thing. So she may have been quoting somebody but it was like, you know, when people say I’m too busy to meditate, those are the people that need it the most. If you’re too busy to meditate, you really need to meditate, right? If you’re meditating, you never feel too busy to meditate because you know how powerful it is. You know, you can get more things done in less time, with more happiness, more joy, more health, you know all the things that come with it. So I think modeling that, true oscillation of energy investments back into ourself is absolutely critical.
Diva Nagula 40:15 I couldn’t agree more.
Dr. Heidi Hanna 40:16
I think that comes across, and then people hear it in your voice, and they want to hear more. And you have more success, because more people want to be around people who help them feel better about themselves.
Diva Nagula 40:28
Heidi, I enjoyed this podcast very much with you. And for our listeners, if they want to learn
more about you, what’s the best way to do so?
Dr. Heidi Hanna 40:36
The easiest place is probably my website, which is HeidiHanna.com. And I’m also on LinkedIn – I’ve got four courses on LinkedIn, and people can connect with me or follow me there. Right now. I’m doing my Stress Mastery Show, Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at noon, which is a lot of fun. Hoping to have you on that show too. We do it live, but people can access that as well by searching for the hashtag, #stressmasteryshow on LinkedIn.
Diva Nagula 41:03
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us and I hope the wind calms down where you are.
Dr. Heidi Hanna 41:08
Me too, but in the meantime, I’m going to just enjoy watching the surf so I’ll ride the waves.
Diva Nagula 41:14 Thanks again!