Dr. JoAnn Yanez on KCAA 12/9/20

Dr. JoAnn Yanez, AANMC Executive Director, joins KCAA’s NBC LA affiliate On the Brink to discuss how we can harness stress to support our healing process.

 

Full Transcript of Interview Below.

Topics Include:

  • How to foster resilience
  • Choosing your response to stressors
  • Modeling healthy coping mechanisms

Erin Brinker:

I am super excited to welcome back to the show Dr. JoAnn Yanez. She is the Executive Director for the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges and she joins us once a month to talk about health and wellness, and just your whole self in terms of naturopathic health and every subject in the world, because everything seems to impact our health. Dr. Yanez, welcome back to the show.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

Good morning. How are you both?

Erin Brinker:

Doing great.

Todd Brinker:

Doing good.

Erin Brinker:

Alive, alert, awake and enthusiastic.

Todd Brinker:

I wouldn’t go that far, but yeah.

Erin Brinker:

So, how are you? What are things like in the COVID world in the naturopathic sense?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

Oh, they are busy, and it brings me to the topic that I thought to discuss today, how do you take the situations that life gives you and make the best out of it? And so could we actually make stress be a healing tool? What do you think?

Erin Brinker:

It seems counter-intuitive. Yeah.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

I’m going to challenge that assumption, that all stress is bad. I think that we are in insane times for many, folks that are just having obstacle and struggle, one after another. And how do we foster resilience? How do we rise above it? I actually challenge myself, especially when things are getting stressful and hectic and I find my temper getting shorter and my sleep getting shorter and everything getting shorter. How do you take that and turn it into positive?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

And right now, we are nine-ish months and 10 months into the pandemic. And with vaccines coming around the corner, we’re still not likely to be all the way out of this for a good amount of time. And so how do we make the best out of this? How do we keep ourselves strong and resilient and make sure that when this is all over, there is a good version of us on the other end.

Erin Brinker:

So how do you do that? Because it is, and I find myself vacillating with thinking about things to be stressed out about. Between the seriousness of the pandemic and the seriousness of people not being able to support themselves because their business has shut down and they lost their job. And I find myself being doubly stressed. So how do I make the best of that?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

Areas where, as one of my really good old friends put it, this is a choice between ‘bad option A’ and ‘bad option B.’ And how do you make the best out of it? Often times, I lecture on stress and resiliency and I think of the sitting in traffic as an example. You can take that example and many of your listeners might be sitting in traffic right now.

Erin Brinker:

Right.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

So you can take the example of traffic, right? Is traffic something that you can control? Usually not. And so a lot of the things that are happening in our lives regarding coronavirus, regarding the response to it, are not things that are within our immediate sphere of influence. And so what is it that you can control? You can control your reaction, you can control your response and you can control your coping mechanisms. And I think this is all challenging all of us to get strong on our coping mechanisms, get strong with our networks, the social support. One positive I’ve seen, I’ve been more in touch with old long-time friends in the last several months than I have in decades.

Erin Brinker:

Oh, that’s nice.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

Yeah. It really is and we’re all leaning on each other and these are longtime friendships, but I find that you can make the best of this or you can let this get the best of you and what’s your choice? So I think that it’s easy to, it might be easy for some to turn to negative coping mechanisms, but I’m vowing to not let this get the best of me and to be strong at the end of this and come out the other end as strong as I possibly can.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

And I know that that comes from a position of privilege. And I recognize I’ve got food on my table and a roof over my head, and some people are not as fortunate. But I will say though, that we can, within our circumstances, choose our responses to things.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

If you’re in traffic, you can choose to get angry at the traffic and bang your fist against the steering wheel and all of that. Or you can say, all right, how do I make the best of this moment? Can I turn on the radio and listen to Erin and Todd Brinker in the morning? Can I put on an awesome song and jam along in my car and make everybody think I’m crazy? Can I call somebody that I might not have had the chance to talk with otherwise? How do I make the best of the situation? Can I organize my thoughts for tomorrow and all the things I need to do? Or relish in this quiet time of being alone in my car with nobody bugging me? How do you make the best of it? And so it’s really a mind frame shift, if that makes any sense.

Erin Brinker:

It does. And it’s about creating a more resilient self.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

Yes.

Erin Brinker:

And I think about how important that is to model that for our children, because life is a challenge for everyone. It may be different for everyone, how it challenges you, but nobody gets through life without having overcome something. And usually, it’s many somethings, and the ability to change your perspective for yourself and for your children is huge.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

Yes. And I’m in the business of medical education and advising students, and we have faculty members and so you’re also modeling this for … your community, your population. I heard you all talking about the people at the grocery store. You’re modeling it for them too. If somebody is nasty to you, maybe they’re having a really tough time. And how do we model those kinds of behaviors and resilient behaviors back, just to be a better community.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

And so, I was just recently reading Inside Higher Education magazine. And they were reporting new research that 44% of college students right now are rating their number one concern as anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

Erin Brinker:

Oh, wow.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

So 44%. And it might be even higher than that. So, you I think that we’re seeing those in the medical field, we’re talking about burnout, we’re talking about stress of treating this and working within this pandemic for over nine months now.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

And so, it does have the possibility of getting the best of some people. We’re hearing about more suicide. We’re hearing about more mental illness. And so, I just implore folks take care of yourself, because if you are not around, you can’t fill other people’s cup if yours is empty. So, do what you need to do, take a mental health day, if you need it, seek professional help. There’s no shame in that. Remember to be kind to yourself. Very often we can have negative self-talk with ourselves when no one’s looking. And so just remember be kind, number one, to yourself. Take care of yourself so that you are able to get out of the other end of this storm.

Erin Brinker:

So that is a beautiful, beautiful message. And it’s one that we can, when this one is past, there’ll be something else down the road, because there always is and you will have a happier life if you learn this skill. I think of Viktor Frankl and Cory Tenenbaum, both of whom went through the Holocaust, both of whom were in concentration camps, and Viktor Frankl of course wrote Man’s Search for Meaning and Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place. And you talk about going through the most intensely negative experience you could possibly go through. And yet they found meaning. And yet they found, I don’t want to say beauty, because that might be too strong of a word, but maybe it’s not. So.

Todd Brinker:

Philosophical growth.

Erin Brinker:

Indeed.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

Yep. No, I have, in my family, two of my uncles were political prisoners and tortured in a political prison. And I had the pleasure of spending a good amount of time with one of my uncles about 20 years ago before he passed. And I asked him, “How did you make it through?” And he said, “It was one moment at a time and that was the best you can do.” And so if the sun is shining, you look up at the sun. If you have a morsel of food in front of you, you’re grateful for that morsel. And he kept his mind active. He had studied in college and so he went through courses in his head to keep himself active in solitary confinement, and it was fascinating to hear how you can take a bad situation and make sure that it doesn’t break you.

Erin Brinker:

Because ultimately, that’s what we have control over and pretty much nothing else.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

Yep. You’ve got control over your thoughts and your responses. And so I just implore folks, look up good coping skills. If you do not have them, get them, and really put them into practice and be mindful of how you are treating yourself. And so, get moving every day, if you can. Nourish yourself with good healthy food. Nourish your brain with good healthy thoughts. Try and get the restful sleep as much as possible and take care of yourself.

Erin Brinker:

Well, Dr. Yanez, that is a beautiful message right before Christmas during this time of COVID. And I really thank you. So tell people how they can find and follow you and learn more about naturopathic medical careers.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

You bet. So, we are at aanmc.org. We’re also on Instagram, FaceBook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  We also host free monthly webinars. Our next one is January 9th on Changing Careers: Balancing Family and ND School. So we’d love to have folks join us. We have webinars every month. We’ve got one coming up in February and March too. So feel free to jump on our website and see all of the tools. We also host … We have free recipes and a little section called The Naturopathic Kitchen to help people navigate their way through healthy food.

Erin Brinker:

Ooh, cool. I’m going to check that out.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

Awesome.

Erin Brinker:

So, thank you so much. Happy holidays to you and your family and please stay well.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:

Same to you both. Take care.

Todd Brinker:

Bye-bye.

Erin Brinker:

So with that, it is time for a break. I’m Erin Brinker.

Todd Brinker:

And I am Todd Brinker.

Erin Brinker:

And we are On The Brink, the morning show on KCAA. We’ll be right back.

 

 

 

 

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