Dr. JoAnn Yanez, AANMC executive director, joins KCAA’s NBC LA affiliate On the Brink to discuss spring-cleaning and de-cluttering your mental health.
 

Full Transcript of Interview Below.

Topics Include:

  • De-cluttering your mental health
  • Finding what works for you
  • Prioritizing tasks and asking for help when needed
  • Mental health statistics
  • Mental health stigmas
  • Expectations versus reality
  • And more…

Erin Brinker: Welcome back. I’m Erin Brinker.

Tobin Brinker: And I’m Tobin Brinker.

Erin Brinker: And we are On the Brink, the morning show on KCAA, AM 1050, FM 106.5, and FM 102.3. I’m so excited to welcome back to the show, Dr. JoAnn Yanez. She is the Executive Director of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges and the Chair of the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health. She also serves on the Integrative Health Policy Consortium Education Committee. Weaving a passion for illness prevention into her professional life, Dr. Yanez’s career has spanned advocacy, academia, patient care, and public health. As AANMC Executive Director, Dr. Yanez oversees research, advocacy efforts, and the joint academic endeavors of the accredited colleges of naturopathic medicine. Dr. Yanez, welcome back to the show.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Oh, thank you so much! Hope you guys are well.

Erin Brinker: We hope you are well, too. It’s so beautiful outside. It’s just … you know, the weather where you just want to be outdoors. And it’s been very, very rainy. You know, this winter. So, the spring is much appreciated.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes, agreed. It’s really amazing how getting outside can make an impact in your mental health and in your health in general. And I think that’s what we were talking about today, right?

Erin Brinker: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, you know, everybody has seen or at least heard about Marie Kondo’s show about kind of spring-cleaning your house. Cleaning out closets and that sort of thing. And all of that really does impact your health, doesn’t it?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: So, you know, it’s really funny. Folks will talk about the impact of clutter, you know, all the excess stuff that we accumulate through the course of our lifetime. And what that does to your mental health. I know personally for me, when my house is not organized, when it’s a disaster, it’s harder for me to concentrate. It’s harder to think straight. Even though cleaning is not the most fun thing in the world, you know, there is satisfaction in knowing that your space is organized. And I think that’s why so many folks have caught on to this one way of organizing. But I think it’s also important to think about the mental clutter. As a working mom myself, I think of all of the things that occupy my brain space. And how do you de-clutter, not only your personal space, but how do you de-clutter your thoughts? And by doing both of those, that definitely can have an impact in your mental health and in your stress level.

Erin Brinker: So, I have … and I’ve gone through periods of time where I do this, but I recently started really journaling. And it really does clear the cobwebs out of … you know, things that I’m kind of obsessing about. And I don’t really like that word. But it kind of describes things that are swirling around my head that I want to get rid of. And I find that when I write them down in a journal, then it clears all of that out. It’s like taking a Swiffer to the cobwebs.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It really is. And you know, I think that journaling … There are so many different tools out there to help you kind of manage those cobwebs. But, you know, journaling is one of them. Social support has been well documented to help people manage their stress. So, talking with a friend or a counselor, if that’s more helpful. I think all of those types of ways of having some sort of a release. For me, personally, it’s lists. Even if I don’t necessarily cross off everything on the list, it’s just knowing that I have everything down on paper that needs to happen so it doesn’t have to occupy the mental space of, “Oh, I’m going to forget this,” or, “Oh, I have to remember to do this.” Just putting it down. My calendar’s my bible. You know, I’ve got a calendar that’s chock-full of everything that I need to do, everywhere I need to be, everything I need to think of. Having that level of organization. I think more importantly, Erin, it’s finding the organization that works for you. For some people it’s writing down a handwritten list. Some people it’s a web app or tracker to help you stay organized. If the organizational tool becomes more stressful, then ditch it.

Erin Brinker: Absolutely. One more thing you have got to do is organize. So, I remember when I was very early in my career, I took a Stephen Covey class. You know, they had the Franklin planners, this was before people had the smartphones.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Oh, gosh.

Erin Brinker: And, you know, I found it so helpful as a way to kind of think about organizing your day. And I’ve thought recently that, “Well, maybe I need to take another one of those courses.” Because there’s a … obviously I don’t use a Franklin planner anymore, but you know, that maybe there are new ways to organize that would make life easier.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Well, there are. And you know, I think, again though, there are so many tools on cell phones, you can set reminders, you can have … You know, on my calendar, I have reminders that go off. They get sent to my email box and I get a little ping on my cell phone.  And that’s how I remember that, you know, Monday is spirit shirt day at my son’s school or, you know … All the random things that happen … you know, bring cans on Friday to school. In addition to work, all the extra stuff that would normally be like, “Oh, gosh, I’ve got to remember to, you know, to do this or to do that.” Or, “This is one extra thing.” Again, it’s having the organizational tools that work for you. I have found my system and I stick with it. And mayhem ensues when I don’t.

Erin Brinker: By the way, when your son hits middle school, you are going to find out about those special days about half an hour before he has to be at school.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes.

Erin Brinker: Oh, we were supposed to bring, you know, 150 cookies. Really?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Fabulous! But anyway, I think the spring-cleaning piece really does fit in to more of, “What are the things that clutter your mind? That stress you out?” And you know, if you … If having a messy kitchen doesn’t stress you out, then don’t worry about it. For me, it does. So, you know, I think it’s really what are the things that are stressing you out that are kind of leading to that, those little … you know, the little pins in the pin cushion? Like what are those little things that ultimately will add up? And if you can clear those out and kind of get those out of the way, then yes, it absolutely can help with mental health and with your overall stress levels. So, it’s really just knowing yourself and knowing what’s important, prioritizing the things that will help you feel better. And you know, and making that a regular part of your life.

Erin Brinker: So, one of the things that I hate doing is filing. I hate filing. And most of my … I generally don’t like paper. I want everything electronic. Because then it’s really easy for me to file. But like physically taking paper and putting in files, I hate that. Is there anything wrong with hiring people to do that for you?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: There is absolutely nothing … if you have the means to do so. You know, I had a very smart mentor years ago who basically said, “Hire out the things you don’t like to do.” Because you will spend more time thinking about it, obsessing about it, stressing about it, than the $20+ you could have paid somebody to have gone and filed your stuff for an hour.  No, I definitely think that if you have the means or if you can, find a way without the means to enlist some help or have somebody there for moral support, that’s … The filing is one of my things, and so is when I’ve had to move, packing. For whatever reason I have this mental block on packing. And it stresses me to no end. And so, what I’ve found is if I can have music and some friends and make it fun that it goes by more quickly, it becomes less of that burden. And, you know, so I think again, asking for help is something that a lot of us don’t always do well. And whether that’s paid help or it’s a friend or whatever, asking for help and knowing when you need help is very important. And I think that’s one of the big messages in all of the mental health. If you look at Psychology Today or you look at any of the National Association of Mental Health and all of that, it’s all about knowing yourself, they have helpful self-assessment tools. And knowing when to ask for help. Knowing when you need professional help, knowing when you need a friend, or a spouse, or a partner, or family. And getting the help when you need it. And I think that’s the biggest piece. One out of five Americans struggles with some sort of mental health issue. And worldwide, the numbers are even one out of four. This is not something people … and we’ve talked about this before, have stigma about asking for help or saying they are said or saying they are anxious or angry or depressed. And we really should start to take that stigma away from people and make it safe to talk about things that are upsetting to you.

Erin Brinker: You know, it’s … I think that when expectations crash in to reality, it’s a tremendous … it’s a source of tremendous stress. And, you know, as you said, if you … having a messy kitchen doesn’t bother you, then don’t worry about it. And this idea that we have to have … everything has to be perfect and everything has to be just so. And that in itself causes us … can cause people significant mental anguish. And give yourself a break, cut yourself some slack, seems to be a really positive message.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes, you know, I think that striving for perfection and, you know, my husband will say, he would rat me out right now if he heard me talking about perfection. But you know, I think the striving for perfection and that extra pressure that you put on yourself, undue pressure. You know, I’ve heard folks talking, “Oh, well, you know, my house isn’t really ready yet. I don’t want to have people over.” I’m like, “Please. I don’t care what your house looks like.” Like don’t worry if your baseboards aren’t up or you haven’t finished your kitchen yet. I don’t care. You know. And frankly, anybody who will care shouldn’t be coming to your house.

Erin Brinker: Indeed. Indeed. Absolutely. So, is there any news on the naturopathic medical college front? Anything going on that you want to let the public know about?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Oh, gosh. There’s so much news. We have two states that have recently newly regulated naturopathic doctors – Idaho and New Mexico. The AANMC residency process has just finished up a cycle. We have our monthly free webinar series. I am actually getting ready to rehearse with the Naturopathic Medical Student Association president for his upcoming webinar on tips and tricks from a current ND student in a couple weeks.

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