About Our Guest- Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum – Staying calm in chaos with functional medicine
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum is passionate about transforming healthcare by training health coaches to help people become CEOs of their own health. She spent nearly five decades making healthcare and education more holistic and innovative. With a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, Sandi specialized in positive psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy, and mind-body medicine, and served as a teacher and the director of a clinic for Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD). She is a pioneer in her field, having implemented programs such as the use of neurofeedback with patients and becoming the first-ever psychologist to earn certification through The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM).
Tools mentioned in this episode
Functional Medicine Coaching Academy (functionalmedicinecoaching.org) – Become a Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach in this immersive and in-depth online training program! You’ll learn to apply core coaching techniques and the principles of Functional Medicine and nutrition, mind-body medicine, and positive psychology to transform your own life and help your clients do the same.
Mind-Body Medicine (www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/head-toe-happiness/201006/what-is-mind-body-medicine) is a field that “uses a variety of techniques designed to enhance the mind’s capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms.” The standard treatment approaches used in mind-body medicine include meditation, prayer, and creative outlets.
Full Podcast Transcription
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 00:00
You ask yourself what tense am I in. Am I in the future? Or am I right now? Right now I’m safe,
that’s all I know.
Diva Nagula 00:08
Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of From Doctor to Patient. Today, I have the pleasure of having Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum as our guest today. Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum is passionate about transforming healthcare by training health coaches to help people become CEOs of their own health. She spent nearly five decades making health care and education more holistic and innovative. With a PhD in clinical psychology, Sandy specializes in positive psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy, and mind body medicine and serves as a teacher and the director of a clinic for attention deficit disorder. She is a pioneer in her fields. Having implemented programs such as the use of neurofeedback in patients, and becoming the first ever psychologists to earn certification through the Institute for Functional Medicine. Dr. Scheinbaum funded the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy in collaboration with the Institute for Functional Medicine. A clinical psychologist for over 35 years, she is an expert in positive psychology, and mind body medicine, and the author of Functional Medicine Coaching; Stop Panic Attacks in 10 Easy Steps and How to Give Clients The Skills to Stop Panic Attacks. Welcome, thank you for being a guest today.
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 01:11
How are you? Thank you, it is a pleasure to be here.
Diva Nagula 01:13
And there’s so many things I want to get to on our show, specifically, talk about some things that we as a society can take advantage of in these hard times that we are facing. But before we get into that, I really want to take a few minutes and get some clarification on some of the things that you do. First of all, let’s talk about functional medicine. I’ve had a guest on here before and she is a actually it’s Dr. Cindy Howard. I don’t know if you know her or not?
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 02:25 I do!
Diva Nagula 02:25
So, we’ve had her on here before and we talked about some supplements. And we briefly went in into detail a little bit about functional medicine. But with your background and with your association with IFM. I’d love to talk about what functional medicine is and how we see functional medicine shaping the future ahead of us.
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 02:45
Sure. So functional medicine is more a way of thinking than a way of practicing. And it’s asking questions like, why is this person showing these symptoms at this time in their life? It’s looking for the root causes, and they might have a whole cluster of symptoms. Perhaps they have skin breakouts, perhaps they have digestive issues, perhaps they’re having mood issues. And so typically, in the conventional world, you would go to your specialist for each of those. And they would diagnose and they would prescribe something, a functional medicine doctor would say, okay, what are the root causes? Perhaps it’s inflammation, they may use specialized testing to dig down and find what is the common factor that’s driving suddenly all of these diseases to pop up? And they might go to, okay, why is this person having inflammation? They might ask the question, what was going on in your life a year or six months before you got sick? And they might say, well, I was going through a divorce, I lost my job, I was living in a house with mold. And so the functional medicine doctor would connect those pieces, and then they would develop a plan that would typically include diet, lifestyle, crucial things like; how were you sleeping? How is your movement? What are your relationships like? Then, looking at supplements if necessary, but they’re not anti-medication or surgical new types of interventions. So I might add that there is a place and so acute care, we want the best that our medical system has, if we are acutely ill in our present circumstances, that’s certainly the case. So the functional medicine doctors though the playing a huge role to help people support their health, and many people, from this crisis, will often for the first time, start thinking of their health, and start taking those measures to have well being and good health.
Diva Nagula 05:10
Interesting, I actually did a fellowship in integrative medicine at University of Arizona with Dr. Andy Weil as the program instructor. And I have to admit that it was the tenants that I’ve learned through integrative medicine, which is also espoused by functional medicine practitioners, specifically IFM. It is what really helped me to get into remission through my cancer diagnosis and helped me actually get out of my cancer when I was actually treated alongside with chemotherapy. So I really feel that it was the blend of utilizing the conventional Western modalities with traditional medicine, plus some of the modalities that I was able to take into consideration, which included strategies of diet, supplements, mind-body, and the things that you basically teach and coach. And I really owe it to the blend of this to help me fight my cancer and beat it. And now that I’m into remission, it’s been almost five years since I’ve been in remission, I still practice these strategies. And I really feel that is because that I practice these strategies in different modalities that I’ve stayed in remission. And I feel that’s really important because when you’re in a situation when dealing with cancer, and you’re a young person, or at any age, for that matter, you can get chemo or immunotherapy or whatever it is, and get rid of the cancer. But if you return to your previous lifestyle, and you don’t change your lifestyle moving forward,more than likely to cancer is going to return. So I’m a big proponent of functional medicine, integrative medicine, as I think it’s important to leave these strategies to the fullest to optimize your well being and optimize health. And you’ve developed this institute or this Functional Medicine Coaching Academy. So what is a functional medicine coach? Specifically, what is a health coach? And what do they do?
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 07:18
Sure, a health coach is a behavior change specialist. So I want to be really clear that a health coach is not the same as a practitioner, practitioners have a license to diagnose and to treat, that’s not what coaches do. So if you are experienced, you’ve worked with a coach or you see an app coach, and they are talking about running laps for you or having supplements. That is somebody who is not basically within the coach scope of practice. And what is the coach scope of practice? Well, it is coaching is when you help people change when change is hard. They inspire passion and purpose in others, they take someone from where they are now to where they would like to be. But they’re not the ones who are doing the heavy lifting. It’s totally the client and note that I said client and not patient, because again, patient implies that they’re a provider, and they’re not. So they have clients. And those clients are in charge when they work with a coach. That’s what makes it so powerful. Because they then sense their own power to change, to adhere to what the doctors want them to do or to say this isn’t the right time, I want to focus here, this is where I’m having the most difficulty in my life. And the coach goes there along with them. Coaches provide… they’re a gap, they bridge the gap between what the practitioner wants for that patient, and what that individual can do. So they connect and they can educate, they can inspire they hold people accountable. So somebody can be thinking about an exercise plan and then through a conversation, then that person may reach the point of “well, okay, I think I’ll go out and buy some running shoes” and then the coache says “Okay, when you’re going to do that? What store do you think you can go to? And we’re going to meet next week. And I’m going to ask you, did you do that? Are you okay with that? Is that and okay plan for you?” So it’s breaking it down into goals. And it’s really helpful when you have somebody that’s going to hold you accountable. That really increases the chances that you’re going to follow through when you have setbacks. coaches are there for you they can help problem solve, they can help you overcome obstacles. We train it functional medicine coaching in a positive psychology strength based model. So coaches will help you to find those strengths that are within you all along and will help you you realize those will help you find the strengths in other people that are around you so that your relationships will improve. Coaches can provide that emotional support. Now they are not therapists, just like they’re not doctors, they’re not therapists. This is not psychotherapy, but they can support you. And they’re first and foremost, their listeners, coaches, there’s valid research that shows they can bring hope to people, they can really listen. And it’s so powerful when you have that personal cheerleader, who’s just listening to you. Because how often do we have that? We go to the doctor, we’re given 10 minutes at that, and it’s not listening. And so I believe now coaches will be needed more than ever, because there are people who are going to need our help.
Diva Nagula 10:50
And I think that’s so valuable. Because today, in our society, when we are seeing a primary care doctor, in traditional medicine, we are typically bounced to seeing the practitioner within a 15 to 20 minute interval. To really embrace functional medicine, you need to sit with the practitioner for a good one to two hours to go over all the details about your lifestyle, how to implement changes, and not to mention go over the testing results and to actually go through proper diagnostic testing. So with the coaching, you’re able to get this done while seeing the patient in a shorter period of time, because a lot of the actions and a lot of discussions will be take place between the patient and the health coach. And so it’s extremely valuable. And it seems like the patient will, or the client, in this case, we’ll get a lot out of it. And there’s regular checkups, and there’s regular, there’s accountability, that’s huge. A lot of times in traditional medicine, the patient gets lost in the shuffle, and the patient doesn’t follow up and they lose interest. And the the traditional medicine practice doesn’t have the resources to follow up with the patient on a frequent basis. And that’s what’s needed to me to really engender a change that’s positive for the patient’s lifestyle. So you need accountability, you need regular follow up, because change is not made over a 15 minute interval at a doctor’s office, at least through my experience.
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 12:21
Absolutely. And that’s 100% correct. And another thing I might add is that coaches are trained, we train our coaches to lead groups, they can be gathering people, often in a doctor’s office. And there’s nothing more powerful than a group of people, they may share the same condition, they may feel all alone, and now they’re in a group and realize, “Hey, I’m not alone.” And they may be able to support other people, they may learn from others, they may say, “Hey if that individual can do it in the group, I guess maybe I can do it too.” So it’s very, very powerful. And often, there’s some great models out there where the doctor can come in to that group for a period of time than the coach can run it. And the beauty is that these are now going online. And so I think we’re gonna see a tremendous growth of these online programs where people from all over the world can join in and be part of that.
Diva Nagula 13:18
And for more information on how a person can contact a health coach, what was the
recommendation? Where’s the link or website that a person can go to online?
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 13:29
you can go to www.functionalmedicinecoaching.org. And there’s a an opportunity to find a coach, anybody who is inspired to become a coach, because we were going to need a lot more coaches. And this is a growing field. So you can check out the information there. We also have a matching service, we can help any practitioners out there who want to coach by their side, we can help you find a coach and post a job description.
Diva Nagula 14:01
Fantastic. And what I really want to get into next is talking about mind-body medicine. And to me, this is a really interesting topic, but it’s so powerful in the same breath. When I was going through my training with integrative medicine, we learned a lot about mind-body medicine, I actually use this modality to help me heal and again, is one of the modalities that I continue to use. And I feel that’s also helped me help keep me in remission. What exactly is mind-body medicine?
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 14:34
So I got into mind-body medicine years ago since actually in the 70s. And it didn’t have a name. And at that time, believe it or not, people didn’t even accept that there was a connection between mind and body. You go to this doctor, you go to a psychiatrist deals with the mind. And then there’s the body and who knew that they talk to one another. So really, that is in a nutshell what it is. So mind-body medicine is a cluster of approaches that all focus on how what you think, what you feel, what you believe, what you imagine, what you picture, can influence down to a cellular level. So if you are saying this is awful, this is terrible, I can’t stand it, you’re creating inflammation. And if you are saying it’s okay, I can cope with this, I’m strong, this too shall pass, then you are creating more of a relaxed state, which is going to have an effect even at a cellular level. So there are many ways to do that. You can do breathing, I love it. I have been helping people breathing since the late 70s. Now it’s called breathwork. So I love to see that it’s been formalized as a modality back in the day, it was not it was teaching people belly breathing and slow breathing. So just that alone, you’re doing mind-body medicine. Suppose that you want to know, Gee, I wonder if I’m breathing with my stomach versus my chest? Well, you can go to somebody who just a biofeedback specialist and I was one for many years. biofeedback means information back about bio about the body. So you can put some breathing belts on and look at a computer screen and say, Hmm, okay, I can see that I’m belly breathing, or I can see my breathing is really erratic and rapid. So I used to train people to have a slow pattern of breathing that looked very smooth on the computer, you can go through guided imagery, you can imagine something that you really want, or you can imagine your body in a certain state, you can imagine your lungs clear and healthy. during these times, you can imagine your immune system, how do you picture those little, little people, you can picture them as people, soldiers, or if you like a military analogy, or another type people have their own images, so it’s not for the person guiding you to give you that imagery, it’s powerful. When you have it yourself, an idea will just pop in there are little Pac men that are going around, just they’re searching for that virus, they’re gonna zap and destroy them. So whatever you do, that is part of mind-body medicine. So those are just a few of the many techniques that we have. So it’s the idea that your mind influences your body, your body also influences your mind, we know that our neurotransmitters are mostly made in the gut. And so when your gut is out of balance, then that’s going to affect your mood. So that would be another way of looking at this. So mind- body, they traveled together 100% of the time 24/7.
Diva Nagula 17:48
Asides from breathwork and biofeedback. Are there any other modalities that are considered by mind-body, such as like yoga or things like that?
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 17:57
Yes. So there’s all the physical, Chi Gong, yoga, would be considered mind body as well. And then there’s also Feldenkrais. So there’s a whole number of modalities. I think it does, that whatever you’re doing in that realm, it starts with the breath. So each of those would focus on the breath.
Diva Nagula 18:23
The rationale here is focusing on the breath, because that enables you to achieve more of a parasympathetic or rest and digest state. So it enables the body to slow down and really being more of a state of healing versus in that opposite state, which is the fight or flight state.
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 18:44
Absolutely. And certainly meditation is a considered mind-body modality, and there are many
different ways to do that.
Diva Nagula 18:53
Is there any downside on doing multiple modalities? Like can someone do meditation,
breathwork and say, a Chi Gong practice?
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 19:04
Absolutely. So personally, I practice breathing. And that’s 24/7 and then I make I actually I do every morning have a yoga practice. And so and then my way of meditating is to have some movement, because I find that is for me, how my body likes meditation. So I go to ballet classes, I can’t go get to class, I do it. Where I am at home. If I can’t physically move, I imagine dance and just imagining that. So a lot of this can be done, because the strongest mind-body technique is to channel your imagination, your ability to daydream, your ability to envision something that you want. That’s really at the heart of this and prayer. So we know that when people are in prayer, Breath naturally slows down to about four breaths a minute gets to a meditative state. And so that’s very healing. So, this is not one size fits all. And sometimes it’s not the time to go out and do something, one of these techniques, but it’s more to really focus on what at the moment, we need to practice this when we’re most at risk when we’re scaring ourselves when we’re agitated, not to say, “Okay, well, I know that I’ll meditate later in the day” and what if we can’t get out to a yoga class or work with a Feldenkrais or bodywork or an energy healer? So Well, we have have it inside of us. And we do it right then. And there. I used to work with people who were traders on the floor they were freaking out because they were losing a lot of money. Well, that on the spot, how do you gather yourself? How do you quiet yourself and shift your thinking? We need it right then in there.
Diva Nagula 22:08
It’s interesting, right now we’re facing a lot of turmoil in our lives in a lot of people are having a lot of anxiety and fears because of the fear of the virus. And we also have other issues that are going on with financial instability. A lot of people are being laid off with work or are facing the potential of being laid off from work. So which of these mind-body modalities can be employed, and where results are seen quickly, because a lot of people might be thinking, I just don’t have the time to enroll in a yoga practice. I don’t have time. I can’t even leave my house on quarantine. What can I do at home where I can practice something and calm my system down?
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 22:57
So this is not the time for most people to say, I’m going to do yoga, I want to tell you, it’s not going to work. I have been doing yoga for years, every day. It’s my ritual, I have a mat at home, I also go to class. And every day I’ve been going on that mat and I’m not there, I’m going through the movements, because they’re automatic now, but my mind is not there. And I think that that’s going to be, unfortunately, in a current that it’s hard to, it’s going to be very, very hard to focus to sit and meditate. Because you’re going to have thoughts that are going to be coming in that will be resulting in feeling more agitated. And so what do you do? That’s where I think a few clearing breaths, you will be fine, but I’m holding my breath. That’s what we do in fear. It’s like a deer in headlights. We hold our breath, you know, we see something on the news, we get a text we’re being bombarded now with emails and Facebook messages and we see it and we turn on the headlines. And it’s like our heart stops. We are we stop our breath. And so that is number one first and foremost. Am I breathing? You let it go. And then I think what people need more so than what would be mind-body medicine modality because just getting on your mat and doing yoga, trying to meditate into your head isn’t going to cut it. What will most help you right now is focusing on your character strengths. What does that mean? We are going to see people rise to the occasion and show strengths that they never knew they had. So this comes from positive psychology. Positive psychology is the study of what’s right with you not what’s wrong. And we all have character strengths. The leaders in this field have searched through, it’s well researched, they looked at religion, philosophy, teachings from psychology, there are essential strengths. What am I talking about? There are things like bravery, like prudence, like perseverance, like love, kindness, humanity, strengths, teamwork, leadership, that you never knew you had, to mobilize your family, to help people, creativity, how can you creatively if you’re inside the house, and how can you create different meals, you’ll find creative strengths you’ve never knew you had! As well as gratitude, humor, spirituality, a sense of a greater purpose and meaning of having a perspective, to be able to see that the humans, we’re strong, and we’ve had crises before. And people have survived and often come out stronger for it. So that’s another key strength, appreciation, gratitude, these are what you will use to become resilient, and to even thrive, because there will be some outcomes that are something that maybe you didn’t even realize, you’ll discover strengths you never knew you had.
Diva Nagula 26:20
And with these modalities, a lot of people, including myself, would practice them, and would wonder, am I getting any benefits out of it. Because the mind is racing so fast, and you’re wanting to do something, with the results of getting the best out, the most out of it, in the quickest period of time. And to me, I always like to have some sort of measurement or a tool to see if what I’m employing is actually benefiting me, I like to use heart rate variability. That’s one of the tools that I like to use to help see as a gauge, as a barometer, to see if I’m making resonance with things that I’m doing. And I’ve read in research and found that gratitude, and pranayama or breathing is actually two of the things that can actually affect HRV in a positive way more so than and most quickest way and then a lot of other modalities. And so, do you find HRV is a good utilization to gauge these types of mind-body practices.
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 27:26
Yes, absolutely. So that heart rate variability and use of heart math, for example, that’s biofeedback. So when I was doing it early on, we had wooden boxes with dials. And that’s how we measured well, now fortunately, you can get an app on your phone, and you can monitor. So for those people who are unable to do this, because of our current circumstances, you may not be able to purchase a heart math or it might not be practical or realistic, what you can do is a simple coherence. And this comes from the heart math people. I love it. I use it all the time. And so you’re integrating, and that’s a key point when you’re doing any of these processes. It’s not like one you’re doing it in combination. It’s not like Okay, first I’m going to do yoga, then I’m going to breathe, and I’m going to meditate, then I’m going to do heart rate. It’s all integrated. It’s all one. And so what would you do? Well, maybe you would just start by slowing down your breathing, or actually breathing because maybe you are holding your breath. And then you notice, Where’s it coming from? And notice that like, put your hands on your belly? Can you feel your belly? Are your shoulders up to your ears, or are you letting them soften? Because when we’re doing a chest breath, which is a panicky breath, everything tightens up and even doing that I can feel the tension in the back of my neck. So you drop your shoulders, you feel your breathing through your belly, you stand up straight or sit straight, because that creates more room for your diaphragm because we’re really talking about not belly breathing, diaphragmatic breathing. And so as you expand that diaphragm, bypushing out your belly, that’s how you do it. And then as you exhale, you imagine the warmth of the breath, because we take in cooler air, our body warms it, and as you exhale and you feel that warmth, feel it flowing through your heart. So the exhalation is where we let go. You let go of the stale air, anything toxic, anything we do, any thoughts and feelings we don’t want to hold on to that are not serving us. We inhale feelings of calm or like “I’ve got this, I’m strong. I’m well and healthy.” And then as we exhale, we exhale anything we don’t like. You don’t want to let go and then we imagine our heart is warming. What does that mean? Well, the hearts the master communicator, motion, love. So maybe we feel a love and we’re just filling our heart with love. And we imagine that love going to every single cell. You know, Last night I was finding just spontaneously, I was watching something on Netflix and I just popped into my head, I’m going to take a deep breath. And as I exhale, I’m going to give a little love to my lungs, I’m gonna send them a little love. And imagine that all the little spaces in my lungs are just clear and healthy and strong. These are techniques we used to do. And I was working with in oncology in what was called psychosocial oncology, with people with cancer, other very challenging medical conditions, there’s a whole body of research to show the importance. Now I want to add that doing this is not going to cure anything. But the power of our one of our mind is just just absolutely unlimited. And so you imagine whatever fits for you, again, it’s your image, your style of doing this, but imagine warmth through your heart. Imagine that warmth spreading all over. Imagine warmth of loved ones. Imagine feeling the warmth of people that you really care about in your life.
Diva Nagula 31:19
Just listening to you go through this exercise, kind of, I think my heart rate kind of went down about five beats, and I feel more relaxed. And at peace, and I’m just listening to you, and I haven’t even practiced it myself. So, I also have to ask you, because this is another thing that you’re an expert at with your books that you’ve written about in terms of how to alleviate and reduce anxiety. Right now we’re faced with wanting to be with people, because that’s, as human beings were meant to be with one another, that’s why we’re here right here on this earth to enjoy one another, and to go through the tough times and the good times, with this practice of social distancing, it actually makes it harder for people to resort and rely on other bellowing and use other people’s and bond with another person, we’re not able to do that which in itself is creating anxiety because the social distancing. We do know that it’s in our benefit to practice it. But without human touch, and without human bonding, it’s creating more anxiety. How do we deal with this?
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 32:28
I would say first and foremost, consider this physical distancing, not social isolation. So we are so creative. And that’s where using your creativity, strength, using your skills. So there’s many examples. I’m just overwhelmed as I’m seeing how people are staying connected. So for example, I’ve had a book club that I’ve been in for almost 20 years now. We get together once a month. It’s one person makes lunch we discussed the book, our group of people who’ve stayed together and are really close. We’re not doing that. And I and several people, others in the book club, we are spending the this is in the Chicago area, and we’re spending winters in another location. I’m in Scottsdale, Arizona. So I was really missing that book club. And then I thought, How can I make this happen? So I thought, okay, I run an online program. We are all of our team members work remotely from home. We our curriculum is 100% online. I know how to use, we’re on zoom right now, I know so many, we have groups, our students learn in small groups that are so powerful. I can teach my book club. And so I put out an email say, Hey, guys, we’re going virtual. And I walked them through step by step because so many they had others about 12 people they had never even heard of zoom, but most they have no idea. And so this morning, I finally connected with a friend who’s in the book club got her on zoom. She was like practically in tears. oh my gosh, I can see you. You can see me we’re talking in this way. And we felt closer than we had had that in years. And so people are reaching out, and they’re connecting, they’re connecting. People are using online platforms like this in so many creative ways. They’re getting together with their friends, they’re playing games. I’m having a birthday party that’s going to be over zoom. And I’m glad I can invite people who wouldn’t have been able to come they’re out of town. We can do so many things that way. And so I think we may find that the engagement increases. When we do this, you might start to… there’s a video someone had filmed in Italy, where people are on their balconies, they’re keeping physical distance, but they’re all playing music and singing, I think we’re gonna see a lot of that. And so when times are like this, when we have people will step up, they’ll use our ingenuity, they’ll use creativity and ways to stay connected. And we know, even in darkest, darkest times, people who are in concentration camps, memoirs have talked about ways that they communicated and stayed strong, because of what they were doing as a group.
Diva Nagula 35:42
I think that’s important. I think the key thing is, we have to follow social distancing. But social distancing does not mean social isolation. And I, as you mentioned, there’s online chat groups, there’s, there’s video chat, we might not be able to benefit from the actual physical touch, which is really important. But this is certainly a good substitute, in maintaining social interaction, which is so important to allow us to get through these tough times.
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 36:11
Absolutely. And there are more and more every day, a growing number of resources, yoga classes, workout classes, meditation programs, so you will see so many resources that are available, where you can start to learn these Mind Body medicine practices, there’ll be a lot of great opportunities to learn. But the key without that social contact, physically, how can you make it happen virtually or by phone if you’re not comfortable going online?
Diva Nagula 36:47
And, again, you mentioned resources, what are some examples and recommendations for
online resources for some of these mind-body modalities that you’re mentioning?
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 36:56
Sure, I think if you look at start with your neighborhood yoga studio, because many teachers are now converting, and they’re going to be teaching online. So I think that it would be looking at if you’re in Facebook, just post and say, hey, anybody know of any yoga programs that I can tune into, many people are doing it over like a Facebook Live, so that would be the one of the best ways to start to just reach out to people in your community, who will be developing that.
Diva Nagula 37:34
And the same goes true for any other specific practice like breathwork Chi Gong, you can utilize the same techniques as researching online and seeing which one of these practices or modalities is available, and which one interests you the most. And, again, you or I were talking and I agree with you that I think breathing is the most powerful, most potent, and most underrated practice to lowering our anxiety and lowering our heart rate and increasing our HRV. And it’s just such a simple practice. And it’s so effective.
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 38:09
You have a it’s always with you, you don’t have to, you can say well, I can’t do yoga. Now I
don’t have my mat. Well, you always have your ability to breathe. Not that… I love yoga!
Diva Nagula 38:21
I want to now transition over to the your books. And this is fascinating to me, you wrote a book called Stop Panic Attacks in 10 Easy Steps and How to Give Clients the Skills to Stop Panic Attacks. I’d love to be able to have you give our listeners as well as myself, some exercises or some tenants on how to beat anxiety and how to beat panic attacks. And I myself have been a person who has suffered from my fair share of panic attacks. And since I was a little kid, and it’s one of those things that I’ve been able to manage and get through and understand the whole meaning behind it. But now that we’re facing such adversity in society with the with the virus, the scares, the fears, we’re unable to catch our breath and to understand what’s causing it and how to remedy the situation. So people are looking for specific techniques or ways, some are pharmaceutical, which I’m not a big advocate for but so be it, there is that option, but can you give us some other ways to help curbing anxiety and perhaps even reducing panic attacks?
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 39:35
Sure. So first and foremost, if you are in the throes of what would be panic attack and that might feel like you can’t breathe. If you can’t catch your breath. Like you’re gonna pass out, everything is tingling, your hands and feet, you feel like maybe you’re gonna faint. And so what’s normal during that, those experiences you may say “I’m not feeling good. I’m sick even I’m dying, could I be having a heart attack?” That was me. And I would think, “Oh wait, I’ve got pain going up my left arm, my chest, I can’t breathe that are called paramedics.” So that would be the extreme level of a panic attack. What are you doing at that point? What causes that? So it’s often hyperventilation, what are you doing? Well, if you say to yourself, “I can’t breathe.” We can see this on a on a screen when we use biofeedback. you inhale. And then because you’re feeling like, Oh, I can’t breathe. What do you do? You inhale again, you don’t wait for the air to be fully exhaled because you’re in a rush, I need more air. Okay, what is that going to do? If you keep that up? Pretty soon you are going to be in that hyperventilation state, that’s the acute panic attack. That’s why if you were to go to the emergency room, which I would not suggest, during these times, they’ll give you a paper bag, breathing into a paper bag. Why do they do that? Because your oxygen ratio has gotten off and carbon dioxide. So what you do is say to yourself, slow down and fully exhale. Think about what you need is to exhale not to take another breath in. So you inhale. And then how slow can you let it out? And you use your mouth, blow it out like like you’re blowing out a feather like you’re trying to move a ping pong ball or like a kid, bubbles. I used to work with a lot of kidswith anxiety and other physical conditions. And we play bubbles, we thought like those soap bubbles…. exhale. So that is step one. That’s really key. Step two, where are your thoughts? are you scaring yourself? Are you telling yourself, “this is awful, horrible, I can’t deal with this.” So what happens is, when you think something like that anything scary, your body doesn’t know, it’s like you have created a false alarm hit the fire alarm. And now your body is doing what it should. So panic attack means your body knows what to do. It’s like, okay, imagine at your home, you have a home alarm. And you think there’s some trouble and you press, you know, you hit the home alarm, or you hit it by mistake. And now within, you know, seconds to a few minutes, you’ve got every emergency vehicle rushing, sirens blaring, they think there’s danger. Well, they’ve got to check everything out in your house. That’s what’s happening when you’re in panic mode. So you’ve triggered that’s a false alarm, because there’s really no danger in the moment and by danger, I’m talking about life and death danger at that very moment in time that we’re biologically made for like a wild animal is running after you at that very moment. So the body is responding intelligently. It’s putting out it’s it’s your muscles, brace your have every you can’t think clearly. Because you don’t need to think clearly you either have to fight or run away from that wild animal. And so all of these things are being triggered. Your body thinks this is a real thing thinks it’s real danger. And so what you need to do to stop that is to break that. And you can say, at this moment in time, am I in mortal danger? And so that means, you might say, well, it could happen. Look at the news. Look what’s happening? Yes, it could happen. It may happen. Is it happening? Prove to me that in this very second, as we’re speaking right now, this is happening to you. And then you can say, well, I may lose my job, things can get worse, I may get sick, or my loved ones. They may, but at this moment, prove it. And so you focus on where you are in the moment. And for most people, that is really, really effective. Pair it with breathing. And then you focus on that. You ask yourself, what tense am I in? Am I in the future? Or am I right now? Right now I’m safe. That’s all I know. I’m not a fortune teller. If you can predict what’s going to happen, then you should be gambling, you should be betting right now something because you would know something that nobody knows on this planet. So that’s really, really helpful. The other is to use your strengths. To say, I’m ready for whatever comes. Because there are many hard things in life. And you may look back, and again, you had cancer, you may look back, we know that we’ve thrived we’ve we’ve overcome. And things have been very dark and difficult before. And we’ve gotten through them, they may have been really hard and challenging. But in challenging times, we, the best of humanity, is often shown. So that’s the side we want to be on out of the, you know, we’re going to, we’re going to be leaders, we’re going to be creative, we’re going to be problem solvers, we’re going to be aware, we’re going to use all those strengths, we’re going to be prudent, which means we’re staying home, we’re not taking chances, that’s our prudence strength, which is, by the way, called the mother of all virtues, like it’s your mother inside of you, “take that sweater.” And that’s what’s crucially needed right now, for people to use that prudent strength that will help you. And so those are some of the ways that you stop panic. The other thing I might add a because you press that alarm button, an emergency response system has to be fast, they get there right away. And that’s what’s happening physiologically, you start to think a scary thought and boom, it just feels like that, that physical panic came out of nowhere has to be fast, because it is there to protect you. But the relaxation response is slow. So be patient, give your body a chance to settle, distract yourself. So how do you find something engaging, maybe it’s work, I was on a call today, and we were in a flow state because we were sewing we had to turn in a form. And every detail had to be really accurate. So I lost myself in work, or perhaps, for me, it’s knitting or following a recipe to cook, get yourself to something that’s going to engage you so that you are really focused there and not on these worrisome thoughts.
Diva Nagula 47:10
And of course, we’re talking about engaging in something productive not being engaged in something that’s counterproductive, like looking at the news and media and following the Facebook feed on your timeline which is more anxiety provoking than anything else.
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 47:27
Absolutely. That is such a good point. And also, if you find maybe you are watching something on TV, but you find like, oh, or you’re trying to read and I didn’t even know what I just read or I’m in the series, but my thoughts are elsewhere, find something that’s going to grab your attention. That’s the time to get on a zoom call or with loved ones or play a game that makes you think, and then that’s a powerful distraction where you have to focus.
Diva Nagula 48:00
Fantastic. Well, Dr. Scheinbaum, I really appreciate your time with us. We’ve gone over a lot of different topics in such a short period of time. And I think we are going to be able to help a lot of people through these tough times. And so thank you again. And for our listeners, if they want to find out more about what you do, whether it’s the coaching academy that you run, or whether it’s the books that you’ve written, or just more about mind-body medicine, can you give us some links and where they can find you?
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 48:35
Sure. So www.functionalmedicinecoaching.org. They can also go to our Facebook, Functional Medicine Coaching Academy. They can also go to Instagram, @functionalmedcoach, or my personal Instagram @DrSandi and just connect with me reach out and I’m happy to supply other resources.
Diva Nagula 49:02
Thanks so much again for coming onto the show and being our guests and I’m sure we’ll cross
Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum 49:10 Thank you so much, be well!