PTSD and the Six Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

Join Radley Ramdhan, ND, MsAc, former Specialist in the United States Army Corp of Engineers, New York Army National Guard for an informative session on naturopathic approaches to PTSD. Hear about his firsthand journey as a doctor and veteran in navigating traumatic issues with patients.

*Webinar does not qualify for CE

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To view the archive of past webinar recordings, please click here.


About the Presenter

Radley Ramdhan, ND, MsAc completed his Bachelor of Science in Biology at Barry University in Miami, Florida. He earned his Master of Science in Acupuncture and Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from the University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine (UBSNM) in Bridgeport, Connecticut. While pursuing his studies, he served as a Specialist in the United States Army Corp of Engineers, New York Army National Guard for six years. It was through his military experience that he developed a special interest in working with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients, and as a result completed his thesis on understanding and treating PTSD using a naturopathic approach. Dr. Radley served one deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Kuwait and Iraq.

He has co-authored two articles published by Naturopathic Doctor News and Review :

PTSD: Using a Naturopathic Approach to Understand & Treat the Disorder
Traumatic Brain Injury: Clinical Applications & Plausible Interventions

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*The information you submit in this registration will be used to inform you of updates to this event and will enroll you in the AANMC newsletter. The AANMC values your privacy. Please see how we protect your data in our privacy policy .

Dr. JoAnn Yanez on KCAA 06/12/19

Dr. JoAnn Yanez, AANMC executive director, joins KCAA’s NBC LA affiliate On the Brink to discuss naturopathic approaches to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Full Transcript of Interview Below.

Topics Include:

  • PTSD statistics
  • No “statute of limitations” on trauma
  • Different ways symptoms may be presented
  • Coping mechanisms
  • Resiliency
  • Creating your safe space
  • 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 pleased to welcome back to the show Dr. JoAnn Yanez. She is the Executive Director for 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’s Executive Director, Dr. Yanez oversees research, advocacy efforts and the joint academic endeavors of the Accredited Colleges of Naturopathic Medicine. Additionally, she helps spread awareness of naturopathic medicine as a viable and satisfying career path. Dr. Yanez, welcome back to the show.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Good morning. Hi. How are you?

Erin Brinker: I’m good. Are you surviving this heat?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: In the pool.

Erin Brinker: Yeah, because that’s really the only place where you can be comfortable.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It is, it is. California problems. I can’t complain too much.

Erin Brinker: No. You know, anywhere you live, there’s going to be a season that’s uncomfortable. It’ll be too cold or too hot or too sticky or too whatever. This is our uncomfortable season. But for nine months out of the year or eight months out of the year, it’s pretty awesome here, so we can’t complain.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes. Agreed.

Erin Brinker: So, one of the challenges that we’ve been talking about, the 9/11 responders and some of these diseases of despair that we’re seeing, so, depression and suicide and drug addiction and alcoholism. For many people, PTSD is the driver. So, some sort of trauma is the driver behind this. From a naturopathic standpoint, how do you treat PTSD?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It is so complex and comprehensive, Erin. It’s estimated that about 70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some sort of traumatic event at least once in their lives, which… Just swallow that for a moment. 70% of adults.

Erin Brinker: 70%.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes, and when you look at the military, PTSD is a huge issue. And one, actually, that unequally impacts, women over men. 17% of the combat troops are women. However, 71% of female military personnel develop PTSD, commonly including because of the sexual assault as well as combat. And so, when you look at those numbers overall, it’s a military issue, it’s a civilian issue. And from the naturopathic approach, like we’ve talked about before, we take a whole-person approach. And oftentimes these traumatic events… Sometimes people will register that something as traumatic and sometimes they won’t even necessarily have processed fully, the event until much later.

Many, many times I’ve heard from people while we’re getting a history and we’re developing a relationship in that process of the naturopathic interview, which is extremely comprehensive, we will hear that folks may not have fully put the pieces together on a traumatic event. “Oh, man. You know, I had this teacher in college 30 years ago who was touching my thigh inappropriately. And ever since I’ve felt X,” and they may not have fully, in the moment, realized what was happening, but later on it starts to come to them. So, there’s no statute of limitations on trauma.

Erin Brinker: No.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: And so, I think that what happens is… And that event, in and of itself, can become traumatizing and re-living things and thinking about it and processing it and what could I have done differently or what do I do about this? And so, with the ND approach, we take a very whole-person approach. We look to address the root cause.

I remember a patient I had had many years ago. She had chronic insomnia, she was in her 60s and had tried everything. Acupuncture, medication, counselors. You name it. And we did an approach, kind of modified cognitive behavioral therapy, that addressed the root of the issue, which for her, involved her parents… Her dad was in a cult and she had to not only watch things, but she would also stay hyper-alert at night to make sure her younger sister didn’t get taken. And so-

Erin Brinker: Oh my gosh.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Awful. Absolutely awful. And she had been to counselors and she’d worked through things, but the cognitive behavioral therapy helps people reframe and take the emotion and the fear out of the actual event. And she followed up the following week and shared that she had slept for the first time through the night. And this is a woman in her 60s who experienced this in childhood. And so, some of the mind-body approaches can be very helpful.

The other thing about PTSD, like you were alluding to earlier, is that the symptoms can manifest in a lot of different ways. There can be cardiac symptoms like heart palpitations. There can be anxiety and depression. Folks may self-medicate with pharmaceuticals or prescription-

Erin Brinker: Or food.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: … or nonprescription drugs or food or sex. And so, they will use, sometimes we call maladaptive coping mechanisms, to deal with the stressors and ultimately suicide as that last-ditch maladaptive coping mechanism, if you want to even call it that.

At the end of the day we really look to the whole-person approach and care. So, there may be supplementation and maybe addressing some of the other things that are manifesting while we’re getting to the root cause of the post-traumatic stress and working on some of the issues that way.

Erin Brinker: So, one of the challenges in low-income communities, communities of poverty, is that there very often are traumatic events, one on top of the other. You have incarceration, you have people who frequently have to move around because they have unstable housing. There may have been homelessness, there may have been addiction. And so, the kids who grow up in that environment-

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Food insecurity.

Erin Brinker: Oh yeah, food instability, lack of healthcare. Very often, unstable family situations. There may be parental figures that move in and out of the child’s life or not there at all. There could be kids going into foster care. And so, how is a child who grows up in that environment? That’s got to impact them forever. And how do you overcome that from a naturopathic standpoint?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Again, it is so complex and it’s so individual. There are people… Some of this, and I hate to… Nobody is at fault here. I don’t want for one minute for any of this to be construed that, you know, a child who’s being bounced in and out of foster care or someone who has been placed in circumstances that they have no control over is at any way at fault. There is a resiliency. And I had a mentor years ago. There are a lot of euphemisms in this, but when you lose, “don’t lose the lesson” or when you fall, “it’s not about the fall, it’s about the get-up.” And so, the resiliency piece and fostering a spirit of resiliency is not… We’ve talked about positivity before, and not that any of those types of things are positive, but folks who are able to find their personal happiness and who are able to create some sort of a positive out of the situation are more resilient and less able to see the negative impact.

Resiliency has been studied quite a bit, and the types of personalities and traits that foster resiliency. And in and of itself, if a person is coming to see a naturopathic doctor for conditions like this, they’re obviously exhibiting that they want help.

Erin Brinker: Right.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Or any other practitioner for that matter. They’re saying that they want help. So, the first step is acknowledgement. The first step is saying, “Something not so great happened and I want to get help for this. I’m worth the help. I want to get better.” And so, that is the first step, is just identifying it and recognizing the need for care and committing to that. So, with naturopathic medicine, we will focus on mind-body medicine, there may be botanical medicine. Other types of therapies like acupuncture have been used.

I remember seeing a patient. You want to talk multiple traumas? He was a military vet who fell on homelessness, he got involved in some illegal activities, he was incarcerated. During his incarceration, he contracted hepatitis and HIV.

Erin Brinker: Oh, my gosh.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: And so, he was homeless and he was surviving. And when he first came in, there was a huge bravado about him. He was talking about all the people he’d killed and how tough he was. And he was homeless, dirty. I laid him down. I said, “This is a safe place for you.” I was, honestly, a little scared myself.

Erin Brinker:  I bet.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I kept the door open, just a crack. But I sat with him and I listened and I did some acupuncture and I left. And came back to check on him, took the needles out. Didn’t see him again. And I figured, with his housing situation, maybe he’s moved or not able to get to the clinic or what have you. And I really didn’t give it too much more thought.

And then a few months later, my front desk person says, “Hey, Dr. Yanez, there’s somebody here to see you. They don’t have an appointment.” And I said, “Hold on a minute. I’m running in between, checking on patients.” And so, I went to the front and I didn’t recognize anybody in the waiting room.

And my front desk person said, “No, no, no. Come over here. This gentleman wants to talk to you.” And it turns out this was the homeless man. He was clean-shaven, he got into a halfway house and he had started counseling boys at risk and he wanted to come back and tell me thank you.

Erin Brinker: Oh, my goodness.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: And so, it’s the type of thing that you never know. Sometimes you could see a patient for years and not get that kind of reaction or maybe all somebody needed was someone caring and showing that they cared. Very often in these types of situations when you’re dealing with homelessness or abuse, people feel un-cared for. They don’t feel safe. Creating a safe space is a very important.

I’ve learned a lot of different guided imagery/hypnosis therapies over the year. And one of the first things that I used to do with folks was to create a mental image of a safe place. Because as you’re going to ask them to go to those places that were not safe, you want to give them a tool to be able to feel safe when they start to feel scared.

Erin Brinker: Right.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: And so, we would create this mental safe place. Some people would bring in Jesus, some people would bring in their teddy bear or some people will bring in their dog. It varied and there was no judgment. Your safe place is your safe place. And whatever it was that made you feel safe and secure.

And so, I think that there are so many different ways to approach it. Each patient’s going to be different. Each patient’s going to need something different. And the great thing about a naturopathic doctor’s education is that we learned so many tools and we can pull from those to find the appropriate ones for the patient at that moment in time.

Erin Brinker: Wow. Wow. So, we are just about out of time. How do people find and follow you and learn more about the AANMC?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Oh boy, we’re all over the interwebs! You can find AANMC all over social media. Just Google AANMC and we will pop up. We have a webinar next week led by a veteran, Dr. Radley Ramdhan, who’s going to be talking about his work with PTSD and veterans, and his own journey with PTSD. And so, he’s a naturopathic doctor. He’s a recent grad and wonderful guy, and is going to be leading our webinar next week on PTSD.

Erin Brinker: Well, Dr. Yanez, Dr. JoAnn Yanez, it’s always a treat to have you on the show. Thank you so much for joining us today. For those of you all who are interested in being a naturopathic doctor, maybe you’re kind of thinking, “Huh, that might be interesting,” you can go to AANMC.org for the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges to get more information. Dr. Yanez, thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Thank you for having me. Have a great day.

Erin Brinker: Thank you. You too. All right, so with that, it’s time for a break. I’m Erin Brinker.

Tobin Brinker: And I’m Tobin Brinker.

Erin Brinker: And we are On the Brink, the morning show on KCAA. We will be right back.

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Dr. JoAnn Yanez on KCAA 05/08/19

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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How Do YOU Take Care of Your Mental Health?

With the hustle and bustle of the 24/7 news cycle, family, and work/school responsibilities seemingly adding more to our to-do lists than there are hours in the day – we thought we would compile some of AANMC’s favorite ways to recharge and unplug from day-to-day stresses.

Laugh

Laughter is medicine, so let yourself enjoy a good belly laugh! Get together with friends and family, go to a comedy show, or simply watch a silly show…whatever tickles your funny bone!

Exercise

Move that body! Walk, dance, play a team sport, swim. The ‘what’ doesn’t matter as much as long as you are making it happen. Shoot for at least 30 minutes daily.

Meditate

People often associate meditation with a long and intricate process. It can be as easy as practicing clearing your mind of active thoughts before bed. Letting whatever does come to mind quietly float away. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Start out small and work your way up.

Unplug

Literally. If you are constantly tethered to a mobile device or screen, free yourself by spending some time away and ‘off–the-grid.’ Try to do this for 1-2 hours before bed at a minimum, and if you can – schedule a weekend a month and a week a year, completely tech free!

Spend Time in Nature

Don’t have time to enjoy nature every day? Bring the outside, in. Open a window or try to work where you can see the beauty of your natural surroundings. Invest in a houseplant. Grow window herbs. And when you can, and as often as you can, make an effort to walk, hike, play, or swim to realign yourself with nature.

Socialize

When was the last time you had a heart to heart with a loved one? Are your personal relationships filling or emptying your cup? If more are emptying – then it may be time to reassess who you allow in your sacred circle of friends. Social support is a vital component in the ability to adapt to stressors. Make sure you take time to nurture your relationships.

Spend Time with Pets

Pets are often responsible for filling their owner’s heart with love, but studies have also demonstrated that pet ownership can positively impact your overall health.

Get Organized

Sometimes being a little proactive and cleaning your space or organizing the day can help minimize the stress that comes with clutter of both your mind and surroundings. While cleaning may not be everyone’s favorite activity – there is a good amount of satisfaction that comes with a tidy and organized space. Pencil it in on the calendar if you have trouble making it a regular habit.

Sleep

How long has it been since you slept like a baby? Sleep is an important factor in supporting overall balanced mental, emotional, and physical health. Getting too few hours of sleep can contribute to any number of health crises. Practicing good sleep hygiene can get you back to catching those restful Zzzzs.

Eat Well

The foods we eat on a daily basis can have important effects related to disease susceptibility, proper physical, mental, and intellectual development, inflammation and immunity. Whether these effects are taking us in a positive or a negative direction depends on the choices we make. Educate yourself on what you eat and get tasty recipes with The Naturopathic Kitchen.

Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor

Receive information from the accredited schools of your choice located across North America!

Mindfulness Meditation

At the root of naturopathic medicine is the ability to listen to and be in tune with your body to allow it to reach its optimal state. There is an increasing body of scientific evidence supporting gratitude, resilience and positivity on long-term outcomes of illness and quality of life. Conditions like pain, anxiety and depression can all benefit from a whole-person, mind-body approach. One practice that can have a resounding impact on mental health and overall well-being is the art of being present through mindfulness. When we are fully present and in tune with our body, we can identify and correct an imbalance before it becomes a major issue.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is learned tool of self-awareness, self-care and empowerment that can be practiced anytime and anywhere. It is a non-judgmental, passive awareness of your present experience.

Why is Mindfulness so Powerful?

Mindfulness allows us to fully engage and focus on the opportunities in front of us. In doing so, we de-emphasize the ‘what ifs’ and revisiting the past, in the present moment. By embracing our power in the here and now, we minimize the stress that comes from worrying about the future or the past. Our focus on the present allows for better connection with our mind, body and environment.

6 Short Mindfulness Exercises

1) Two mindful bites – For the first two bites of any meal or snack you eat, pay attention to the sensory experiences – the texture, taste, smell and appearance of food and the sounds it makes. This practice is also helpful to raise awareness of eating on the go or emotional food behaviors.

2) What one breath feels like – Feel the sensations from one breath flowing into and out from your body. Notice how the air feels in your nostrils, your shoulders, your rib cage, your belly and connect with your breath to ground yourself.

3) Take a mindful moment to give your brain a break – Instead of checking your email or social media in the five minutes between meetings or commitments, try looking out your window and focusing on nature. Use mindfulness to give your brain a break rather than filling up every tiny space in your day by automatically reaching for technology.

4) Air on exposed skin – Pay attention to the feeling of air on your skin for 10-60 seconds. This is best done when wearing short sleeves or with some skin exposed. Why: You’re practicing being in experiential processing mode (as opposed to evaluative “judging” mode, which is our default).

5) Scan your body – This can be done in bed before going to sleep – and can even aid in relaxation for a better night’s rest. Start by getting in a comfortable and relaxed position. Slowly scan your body from head to toe for any sensations of discomfort or tension. Attempt to soften the sensations of discomfort without judgment on why the tension is there, or if you are successful in doing so. Next, scan your body for areas of comfort and ease. Practice gratitude for each of the areas you scan.

6) Do one action mindfully – Pick something you do at the same time every day and plan to do that one thing mindfully. For example, putting on clothes in the morning can be done, focusing on each component and how the clothes feel on your skin.

Mindfulness is like a muscle, the more you practice, the easier it gets.


References

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Chapman, S.G. (2012) The Five Keys to Mindful Communication. Boston: Shambhala.

Davidson, R., et al. (2003). Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, 564-570. Hanh, T.N. (1987) The Miracle of Mindfulness. Boston: Beacon.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994) . Paying Attention in a Particular Way: On Purpose, in the Present Moment, and Nonjudgmentally, 4.

Lazar, S., et al. (2005). Meditation Experience is Associated with Increased Cortical Thickness. NeuroReport, 16(17), 1893-1897.

Lutz, A., et al. (2008). Regulation of the Neural Circuitry of Emotion by Compassion Meditation: Effects of Meditative Expertise. PLoS One, 3(3), 1-10.

Ricard, M. (2006) Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill. New York: Little, Brown.

Semple, R., Reid, E., & Miller, L. (2005). Treating Anxiety with Mindfulness: An Open Trial of Mindfulness Training for Anxious Children. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 19(4), 379-392.

Shapiro, S., et al. (2005). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Health Care Professionals: Results from a Randomized Trial. International Journal of Stress Management, 12(2), 164-176.

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