Episode Description : Stress is a natural part of life, but too much of it can lead to distress and discomfort. In this episode of the Healthy Lifestyle Solutions podcast, we talked with Dr. April Hirschberg, a board-certifie...
Stress is a natural part of life, but too much of it can lead to distress and discomfort. In this episode of the Healthy Lifestyle Solutions podcast, we talked with Dr. April Hirschberg, a board-certified psychiatrist and lifestyle medicine expert, about the benefits of mind-body medicine, the importance of stress management and building resilience, and simple ways to improve your overall health. We also discussed the significance of knowledge and information in assisting individuals in overcoming their reluctance to engage in mind-body practices such as meditation and relaxation exercises. In summary, this episode offers a variety of tools and strategies for dealing with and controlling stress.
In this episode, you will learn the following:
Visit Dr. April Hirschberg’s Social Pages:
The Relaxation Response by Dr. Herb Benson
Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine @ MGH: www.bensonhenryinstitute.org
MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health:www.womensmentalhealth.org
MGH Cancer Center Lifestyle Medicine Program free webinar series: https://www.massgeneral.org/cancer-center/patient-and-family-resources/supportive-care/lifestyle-medicine
HomeBase Program for Veterans and Family Care: https://homebase.org/
Mind Up for Life: https://mindup.org/
The Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center offers the highly regarded Stress.
Management and Resiliency Training (SMART)/Relaxation Response Resiliency
Programs (3RP) training for individuals identified to be @ High Risk for Cancer and
have an MGH provider.
For information or to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center also offers a program for
individuals with a history of cancer and has MGH providers.
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00:00:00 Dr. April: Not all stress is bad. You know, some stress is helpful and there's research around that. And we all need a little bit of stress, maybe to study for a test or make sure we, you know, prepare for a certain situation. So a little bit of stress is okay, but it's when there's too much stress that becomes the problem and can cause what's called distress or, you know, feelings of uncomfortable. So there is, evolutionarily, we have what's called a stress response. So we as humans mount a stress response when encountering danger. And it's something we don't even have to think about. You know, our heart rate goes up, our blood pressure goes up, respiratory rate goes up, and it prepares us to something called fight or flight. And that's all good. And we want that, we want that stress response.
00:00:48 Maya: This is a Healthy Lifestyle Solutions podcast. And I'm your host, Maya Acosta. If you're willing to go with me, together we can discover how simple lifestyle choices can help improve our quality of life. Let's get started.
00:01:03 Maya: Welcome back, friends. It's Maya, your host, great topic that we are going to talk about today and this is in the category of stress management. So if you're tired of feeling stress like I do, you know, I tend to feel stressed regularly and you're overwhelmed. We are going to talk about resiliency and how to improve your overall well being. So you don't wanna miss this episode of the Healthy Lifestyle Solutions Podcast. Our guest today is Dr. April Hirschberg, and she's a board certified psychiatrist and lifestyle medicine expert who has dedicated her career to helping patients find peace and balance through mind-body techniques like the relaxation response and stress management and resiliency training.
00:01:50 Maya: In this interview, Dr. Hirschberg shares her insights on the connection between stress and chronic illness, the benefits of eliciting the relaxation response, and practical tips for building resiliency in your daily life. Whether you're a cancer survivor, a veteran, or simply someone looking to reduce stress and improve your health, this episode is sure to provide valuable insights and actionable advice. So, sit back, relax, and join us for a fascinating discussion on the power of mind-body medicine. As always, the full bio and the links for each of my guests can be found on the website, healthylifestylesolutions.org. And let's welcome, Dr. Hirschberg.
00:02:33 Dr. April: Well, thank you so much, Maya, for that kind introduction and just having this opportunity to speak with you today about something. I'm so excited to talk about and feel that really, everyone should know about. So that's why, you know, to have a platform like yours talk about this important subject is so wonderful.
00:02:51 Maya: It is. Thank you. And it is one of the most important topics and pillars to me of lifestyle medicine. There are all the pillars that I myself try to focus on, but the relaxation response is one that I learned of as a result of being so fascinated by the field of lifestyle medicine. So if you were to look through all the audible recordings that I have or books that I have on that platform, you'll see that I actually have an audible, how would you say, it's like an… well, let me say that again, because I actually don't know how to explain it, but I have a book on the relaxation response in my audible app that explains what it is. And then it actually gives you some techniques. And I downloaded that. I want to say after having a conversation with someone about what it is, so please explain to my listeners. And this is so important for me because I myself am under a lot of stress from time to time. I put a lot on my plate as a woman, as a podcaster, as someone who runs the household. In many ways–
00:03:59 Dr. April: Yeah.
00:04:00 Maya: I have to find ways to relax and presence, and how to presence myself is very important. So please tell us what is the relaxation response?
00:04:10 Dr: April: Well, everything you said is I know I really relate to also, as somebody that has a lot of stress all around. And that's the thing about life. It prepares us well for stress because there are so many opportunities for stress surrounding us. Yet, there's also opportunities to take part in the stress relaxation and to quiet that stress response. So I just want to first speak about stress, if that's okay, Maya, and then to talk about the relaxation response because that's really how Dr. Herb Benson came to describe the relaxation response. Because stress, as you point out, is all around us. And because not all stress is bad, you know, some stress is helpful. And there's research around that. And we all need a little bit of stress maybe to study for a test or make sure we prepare for a certain situation. So a little bit of stress is okay. But it's when there's too much stress that becomes the problem and can cause what's called distress or feelings of uncomfortable. So there is, evolutionarily, we have what's called a stress response. So we, as humans, mount a stress response when encountering danger. And it's something we don't even have to think about. Our heart rate goes up, our blood pressure goes up, our respiratory rate goes up, and it prepares us to something called fight or flight. And that's all good. And we want that, we want that stress response.
00:05:48 Dr. April: The problem is that sometimes the stress response goes up even when those stressors are not as dangerous as somebody chasing us or back in evolution. It's not like we're being chased by a tiger or something. So we mount a stress response even to the chronic, everyday stressors of life. We can have these little peaks and valleys and peaks and valleys throughout the day. But what we don't often do is practice the relaxation response. So I'll just tell you that the stress response and that heart rate, blood pressure, and all of that was discovered and described by a doctor at Harvard Medical School back in the early 1900s and was described. So the stress response is actually our body's sympathetic nervous system. So it's very well described what… there is a scientific response because it raises our adrenaline, norepinephrine, it activates our cortisol, it activates what's called the amygdala in our brain. So there's a very scientific description of what the stress response is. And it was in the late 60s, early 70s that Dr. Herb Benson, who is and was a cardiologist, was studying blood pressure and heart rate. And he was approached by people, meditators, transcendental meditation, individuals who practice this form of meditation for a lot during the day. They approached him because they were able to lower their blood pressure and heart rate.
00:07:26 Dr. April: And so in terms of, to try to figure out what that phenomenon was, he studied them, their blood pressure, their heart rate, had them monitored and everything. And he described what they were doing. They were activating what's called their body's relaxation response, which is the parasympathetic nervous system. So then describe the very opposite of the sympathetic nervous system that gets us ready to fight stress. There's also one that kind of calms us and relaxes us. But we never really learned that because unfortunately, we don't have a lot of opportunities to rest and relax. But the parasympathetic nervous system that rest and relax instead of the fight and flight is rest, relax and digest. So Dr. Benson was one of the early pioneers of mind-body medicine, because he literally wrote the book on, it's called, The Relaxation Response. And I remember my mom had that growing up on our bookshelves that was a red book. So. But he wrote that book because he wanted the lay people, everybody to know about these important things that we can do as individuals to be our own medicine, really, and engage in these types of techniques because you don't have to be practicing meditation 40 minutes a day to get the benefits of the relaxation response. So I think that's a long enough answer. And I'll let you ask the next one.
00:08:51 Maya: Wow, that is a great explanation. And yes, as… well, something that you just touched on that really stands out is the fact that we don't have to necessarily spend 40 minutes doing a meditation. I think that perhaps that is one reason that people shy away from meditating, for example, is that they say, I don't have that sort of time. I got to keep going. I got to keep going, especially in the culture we live in.
00:09:17 Dr. April: Absolutely.
00:09:18 Maya: Now, I will share with you before I ask that second question about, that is, I have a coach and I often share this with my listeners, someone who's highly trained in many of these things that we're speaking about. And when I meet with her once a week, we usually start off with whatever may come, whatever may surface. And I can tell that as I start to feel agitated or aggravated or something, she'll help me calm down.
00:09:46 Dr. April: Yeah.
00:09:46 Maya: So that I can think clearly. So we do deep breathing exercises and then we start from that perspective. And what I'm finding, Dr. Hirschberg, is that when I do get upset at any moment, I feel it immediately. As you were describing how the body reacts in response to stress, I feel it in my body. I feel strong sensations. I can't think clearly. There are many things that happen. I jump forward or my coach says something like I flee forward. Right? So you talk about fight or flight. I start to make up stories about the situation. So that's why having these conversations and giving our listeners tools as to what they can do, I think can be very helpful. What are… so tell us how you work with patients who are hesitant to try these mind-body techniques, like we just said, meditation or relaxation exercises. And what are some of those strategies that you use to help them to overcome the resistance?
00:10:52 Dr. April: Well, I think what you just said is key because the most helpful thing is, I think, is information and education. So I think learning about the fact that we have these two very powerful and opposing reactions in our body. We have this [stress] response and we have the relaxation response and that it's in our power to be able to do that. So I think helping individuals realize the scientific background. I mean, me personally, I certainly wasn't even interested in hearing about meditation until my late to mid 40s because I didn't understand the science behind it. And that sounds hard to believe, given the fact that I went to medical school and then had other additional training. But, you know, I think that it's the mind-body medicine has seen by some to be a little out there or a little bit too woo woo, as some people say. But really, it is very scientifically based. And what you point out, you know, when we're in the stress response, are, the part of our brain, the amygdala, which is in charge when we're not under a lot of stress, the fear and the potentially anger. It does overwhelm the rest of our bodies. The newer, it's part of our brain, the prefrontal cortex is the part that's in charge and thinks clearly. But that kind of gets shut off when we're in the stress response.
00:12:13 Dr. April: So what your coach does is excellent because we have the ability to quiet that by activating that parasympathetic nervous system. And deep breathing does it. You don't have to do 40 minutes again, not to say that 40 minutes wouldn't be terrific for us all to do. Because everyone ideally would be doing 30 minutes of exercise a day. But just a little bit has benefits, too. We want to start where people are at. So the deep breathing technique that you're doing and that our listeners can do activates that parasympathetic nervous system. It changes the way in which our brain is working. And it activates and it allows us to have the clarity of thought. There's a really neat, I didn't tell you about this before, Maya, but I don't know if you know Goldie Hawn. She's a very famous actress and she has got a great program. They're working with kids in a school teaching some of these things because it's never too early to teach this and it's never too late. That's the good thing.
00:13:15 Dr. April: But we need to know that we have this ability to activate these parts of our brain. And by deep breathing, it's called the vagus nerve, which is the big nervous in charge of the parasympathetic nervous system that we're able to interrupt that stress response and bring about the relaxation response. So I think it's just teaching that it doesn't have to be like you said, the 40 minutes. It doesn't have to be that complicated, but deep breaths. But I have a 14 year old daughter and I'll tell you if you ask her to take a deep breath when she's stressed out, you'll get a serious eye roll. So that's why it's important to practice these things before you're stressed. So you know about it and you can call upon that in other situations.
00:14:02 Maya: I like what you just said about well, first of all, yes, a teenager, a young person is not going to necessarily be aware of what she has to do at that very moment. But you also just address on another thing that I'm trying to get ahead of in the sense of that preventative, taking preventative measures so that we're sort of more, I don't know, if you would say even kill because I'm the person that experiences those highs and the lows, not so much a very low low, but I get super excited. But then I also stress highly about things, right? Like, oh my goodness, what has helped me and I don't want to take away from your strategies. When I'm stressed, I do one of two things. And I don't know if I'm checking out. But it helps me, I either clean. Right. And I don't know if it's the mind trying to make sense of order, like trying to create order, but I, cleaning and rearranging, decluttering helps me when I'm highly stressed and cooking. Being in the kitchen takes me away from what is taking over my mind towards being more creative. And I feel very, like I go into a Zen mode when I'm cooking because I'm doing something that I really enjoy. And then I sit down and I feel more relaxed. And so if I cook regularly when I'm not stressed, it helps me. On the preventative end, if I'm doing yoga regularly, and now I just started, Dr. Hirschberg, on doing restorative yoga.
00:15:39 Dr. April: Oh, yes. Yeah.
00:15:41 Maya: And that keeps me in the mindset of feeling supported. So I need to do that regularly. When I'm highly stressed, I know that I haven't been doing something that I should have been doing to prevent myself from feeling that way. So I said all of that just to kind of share what I'm doing. But not–
00:16:00 Dr. April: Well, sorry to interrupt you. But I was going to say is one of the things you are doing and you may not know you're doing is that you are breaking up or you're taking a break or, Dr. Beth Frates, if you talk with her, she's the new president of the ACLM, but she talks about timeouts. There are opportunities for us to reset because if left unchecked, I should say, our mind does a lot of things. We tend to ruminate or think about past mistakes or things we wish we had done a different way or things that we're anticipating or worrying about in the future. Our mind is constantly doing many things, seeking out and trying to avoid danger. But what we need to do is to take little times, throughout the day, that we break the train of everyday thought. And that's really one of the key components of what Dr. Benson talks about on his website. I can give you, listeners. But to break the train of everyday thought and give our brain a break, it's like a little mini vacation. It's a state of deep rest. It's not sleep. Sleep is hugely important. We know it has its own pillar in lifestyle medicine. But these little tiny times throughout the day of eliciting the relaxation response gives us a sense of profound rest because it takes us away from the multiple stressors.
00:17:31 Dr. April: But so do other activities. Like you mentioned yoga. That can be a form of relaxation response because you're breaking the train of everyday thought and you're giving your mind and body a break. Brain, I should say, break. And also cooking. People talk about that as being the other word that you've probably heard a lot. And I've listened to a couple of your podcasts. So I don't know if you've interviewed anybody about this. But Mindfulness and Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn has a lot of similar programs and techniques and mindful awareness. And when you're cooking and when you're being attentive to that detail, you're very present and being very mindful. And again, you're focused on the present rather than thinking about the past or the future or all those stressors that we sort of have in our mind without actually maybe having right in front of us because that's another thing our minds tend to do.
00:18:29 Maya: Absolutely. Yes. The other thing that helps me, you know, I work from home. This is what I do full time. I'm a podcaster, but there are a lot of responsibilities that come with being a podcaster. And by the way, I want to mention ahead of time, your husband also has a podcast and you're going to share with us about that.
00:18:47 Dr. April: Yes. Yeah.
00:18:48 Maya: But one of the things that I do in between, so I'll work for two or three hours and then I'll take a break. And I sort of plan it out strategically to take my dog out for a walk. But I also plan it not just for his wellness, right? Because he needs… he's a very active dog, but I step outside for myself. I love to listen to audiobooks and podcasts, but a lot of times, I don't take anything with me and I just want to look around. I want to enjoy the silence and that time that I have for myself. And when I'm in that mode, I give my dog, Bapichulo, extra time, also to sniff around and do what makes him feel good. And so in many cases, that's been very helpful to have a dog in my life, which I've never really had growing up. Let's talk a little bit about some of those misconceptions. We sort of already lightly touched on that about stress and resiliency and how you work to correct them with your patients. You might have already addressed some of these, but is it that people feel like they have to endure stress? Like they just have to go through it and that's what makes them stronger?
00:20:00 Dr. April: Well, I certainly think that that is part of the culture that we're in. It's kind of like when you think about sleep, it's almost like, well, I stayed up all night and studied, or it's almost like a badge of honor or something like that, or it sounds impressive. But so I think if we have more balls in the air or have more things that we're doing, we somehow seem more validated. But I do think it's part of the culture that it is kind of swinging. I think much more attention is being paid to wellness and well-being and trying to do these preventative techniques and self-care. And the other thing I wanted to say, I learned a lot with Dr. Benson's group. They talk a lot about the three-legged stool and how in modern medicine here, there's the three legs of a stool, there's the surgery, which is very important, as you know. And then there's the medicine or pharmaceuticals as a whole, leg of the stool. And then there's the self-care, but it's been really wobbly because self-care has been a very short leg, too short of all these years. And it's really we need to build out that leg.
00:21:12 Dr. April: So it's a much more balanced approach because, you know, as we know from lifestyle medicine, that self-care can involve things like eliciting the relaxation response daily by taking small things, like taking deep breaths, which are really important, or, you know, longer walks meditatively, as I say, meditatively or mindfully. But like you said, being very carefully attentive to your surroundings and being present and not worrying about, hopefully, what you're going to have for dinner, because that sometimes happens when it's a stereotype. But, you know, women might be trying to meditate or calm themselves down by taking some breaths. And when you quiet your mind, you start thinking about what you forgot to get at the grocery store or something. So there are all these things that we need to do to build out that leg of the stool, like being physically active, but that's sometimes seen as, like, not too selfish. But basically, self-care is not selfish. It's important to build into the day. But I think that historically, we haven't viewed it, maybe that way.
00:22:22 Maya: And that's why I'm enjoying this conversation because we don't address it enough. And as a matter of fact, while you're on that topic of self-care, tell us what is, first of all, resiliency and the SMART program because I think that's a wonderful tool that you have, that is now in place that you're using.
00:22:43 Dr. April: Yes. So great, great question. And the resiliency, and I think that's a new buzzword that sometimes is, some people are getting a little aggravated by it because it's being overused so much. But resiliency is that ability to adapt and change. And if you think adapt and sort of bounce back, you can think of it like that. Like if you read the dictionary definition, it's like the body or something gets stretched, and then it comes back to the original shape. So there's a lot of different definitions, but you can think of it like an elastic, have a little hair elastic or something, or rubber band, and it kind of stretches. But then if you stretch too far, it's going to snap. But you want to be able to come back and kind of bounce back. So that's the way I think of resiliency. And then… so that does tie into the program that has been developed at Mass General Hospital, where I have the opportunity to work is called the Stress Management and Resiliency Training Program. So SMART. And it's based on the relaxation response that Dr. Benson basically defined. And there's other key components. We have, it's based on daily elicitation of the relaxation response through a variety of different ways, hopefully through the deep breathing as one of them and other relaxation response elicitation tools. There's also stress awareness, because again, believe it or not, we're surrounded by stress, but sometimes we don't know that we're stressed or recognize it, as fully, because it pops up in different ways. Maybe we're a little less patient than we would like to be, or we're not sleeping as much, or we find we're biting our fingernails or something that you don't really know necessarily. So there's stress awareness.
00:24:35 Dr. April: And then the other big component of the SMART program are these addressing healthy lifestyle behaviors. And each pillar is talked about from lifestyle medicine. We talk about each of them. And then the other thing, the two components that are kind of not thrown in, they're thoughtfully put in there, are components and introductions to what's called cognitive behavioral therapy and positive psychology. So there's sort of the best of everything you can imagine. And it's a program that's delivered over the course of eight full weeks. And it's offered in a group setting typically. And we have it at the Benson-Henry Institute. And also we have it in the Cancer Center. And I know you had, as a guest, Dr. Amy Comander as one of the oncologists. And so we do offer it at [unclear]. I run it as one of many clinicians for cancer survivors. And I just started a program for individuals at high risk for cancer, so people who know they have a genetic variation for cancer. Because as I think I've heard you say on your podcast, Maya, when people find out something wrong and they have a new health condition, they're at a point or an inflection point in their lives. So they might be apt to make some changes. So we offer it to the cancer survivors and then the people at risk. And then since COVID, I've had the opportunity to… the program got modified by the people at Benson-Henry Institute for clinicians. And we delivered it to health care providers in the early days of the pandemic over Zoom. And so it's been a real privilege to do the work because it helps people in all settings.
00:26:26 Maya: I was actually excited to know that you work there, you know, at Mass General and that you have… that you do work with cancer patients. Dr. Amy Comander is such an amazing individual. Just what you're doing with implementing lifestyle medicine pillars and having this program, the SMART program, to support patients, it's beautiful. And there's something you touched on that really stood out, the stress awareness. So it's one thing to know what the SMART program is and the tools that are given. But when you start to really realize that you're becoming aware of what stresses you, when you're stressed, and then perhaps what you need to do at that moment. I think that's where the empowerment comes in. That–
00:27:09 Dr. April: Yes.
00:27:10 Maya: You talked about, you know, the working with patients that are at high risk, who may, without knowing, automatically feel stress, the stress of, like I was talking about, fleeing forward, jumping forward into what may be, what may happen. Last month, in February, as we were talking about heart disease, I thought about some of the patients that I've heard of that may be at risk for, you know, a heart attack, maybe have to… already have a stent, for example. And the amount of stress that comes with that, it's not just, you know, making lifestyle changes, like changing what you eat and exercising a little bit more. But how do you tell someone, hey, hey, you need to manage your stress? Because sometimes I think that when people hear that, they automatically stress about it.
00:27:59 Dr. April: Oh, I'm glad you said that, because I was thinking about that, you know, right before you said that, because that's a big issue, right? Because we know that stress, there's been some research that shows that stress contributes to many health conditions. It doesn't cause it. I guess that's one thing that we want to tell people. It doesn't cause these problems, you know. It's not just stress that's causing somebody's blood pressure or hypertension, although, because people have an underlying, you know, family history of hypertension, so they might… they would have it whether or not they're stressed or not. But stress doesn't help that hypertension or that blood pressure. Similarly, you know, the conditions like asthma, people, stress doesn't cause asthma, but it also doesn't help asthma. It's the same with, you know, mental health conditions. So what we know is that stress makes almost every condition worse. So if we could at least take down a little bit of the burden or the wear and tear in the body that the stress is causing, we'll improve the health condition.
00:29:09 Dr. April: We may not make it go away, and similar to the cancer, but we'll make that experience, that quality of life, much better. And we may be able to, you know, lessen the amount of medications, for example, someone's taking, because, you know, we've at least taken down the notch of what the cancer, excuse me, the stress is worsening. So for example, in the cancer center, I think sometimes people worry about stress, and that's like an added thing that they're like, you know, now that I'm stressed, is this making my… is this going to worsen my cancer risk or my outcome? Trying to, you know, make them, not make them, but allow them to be less worried about that as an added thing. Because again, when you have a new diagnosis, you're very stressed and distressed about all the things that you may or may not have done in your life that led to that. But certainly, these conditions are not people's fault, you know, and we try to help, you know, convey that to them.
00:30:12 Maya: Absolutely. I'm glad that you said that, because people may feel like just one more thing for me to have to do. But we know that stress affects everything. So if you're stressed, you're going to have a hard time sleeping because at least on my end, my mind is going. It's going, it's thinking, not only the to do list for the next day, but all the things that I didn't accomplish, and also all concerns that I may have. So stress may affect my sleep, which means I'm not rested the next day, which means I'm probably not going to eat the healthiest, which also then means I may not have energy to exercise. And so all of these components, all these pillars affect one another. And if we can manage the stress part of it and feel this overall calm. And if you can kind of talk a little bit about that idea of positive psychology, I’ve already, you know, I've addressed it in the past, but I feel that I think we need to kind of talk about it a little bit more.
00:31:09 Maya: It's not this whole idea of faking happiness or trying to talk yourself into saying, hey, I'm, you know, and the reason I bring that up is I was recently having a conversation with someone and it was a very stressful conversation. And then the person said to me, which this is why I bring it up. The person said, I'm sorry, Maya, that this was a stressful conversation. The next time I call you, I will try to keep it positive. And it really wasn't about me saying, let's fake the conversation. I think it's like, you can only dwell on a topic so much. And if you don't have a solution at that point, you need to just drop it because now you're aggravating yourself with stress. That's… but what exactly is positive psychology?
00:31:55 Dr. April: Well, I'll definitely speak to that. But I wanted to just go back to one of the other things you said because you basically point out that stress is such a, you didn't say specifically the word, but vicious cycle, because like if we, not sleeping, and then we feel more stress, and it can go round and around in like a circle, you know, make everything worse, and it's so bidirectional. And so one of the things that is really helpful, is trying to elicit the relaxation response throughout the day. Remember, I was saying about the sleep, because it sounds counterintuitive to practice some things during the day, to lower your stress level by, you know, eliciting the relaxation response, that that's going to help you sleep at night, but it actually does. And there's been some, you know, research around that. And also, there's a lot of research, you know, for the Benson-Henry Institute, looking at some, you know, stress related conditions, that they're shown to be improved after people go through this eight week program. So I'll invite your listeners to look at that. And we can put that in the episode notes, maybe.
00:33:00 Dr. April: But one of the things, in terms of the positive psychology, to your point, it's not like we want to be fake, or happy all the time, because that's not accurate, right. But one of the things that we know from positive psychology, and that's a relatively recent field, too. I mean, that's what's so neat about it. In the scheme of life, you know, it's only been around, not that long, like, you know, I think it was the late 90s. It was introduced by, you know, Dr. Seligman. So one of the things, with the positive psychology, is that what we know is, is that we as humans tend to focus on the negativity or the negative aspects. Again, it's more for self protection to potentially avoid, you know, mistakes or future events, or, you know, perhaps preparing ourselves for maybe a negative outcome. But there are things that we can do in terms of positive expectation or optimism or, you know, noting one of the practices. I don't know if you talked much about, on this podcast, but gratitude journaling is getting a lot of buzz, you know.
00:34:17 Dr. April: And it doesn't have to be big, giant things that you're grateful for, because hopefully, you know, we and all your listeners do have big things they're grateful for. But sometimes, frankly, we don't have big ones, you know, and people are struggling. But they might have little appreciations, like you, when you're walking your dog, you might notice something in nature that is spectacular and beautiful, but you might not notice if you're, you know, in your, not you personally, Maya, but if we're all too stressed out in our mind or distracted by our phones, like getting updates on the news, which unfortunately is mostly bad these days, you know, we might not notice the beauty and the nature surrounding us. So it's the positive psychology, is trying to engage the parts of our brain of awe and, you know, of appreciation and the positives because there are positives, but they aren't as obvious, sometimes when we're feeling so stressed and in the stress response.
00:35:17 Maya: Oh, nicely put. When we're stressed, it feels huge. And some of us feel the body is highly, highly affected and you're right, it's focusing, there's so much beauty in this world.
00:35:32 Dr. April: But sometimes it's really hard to find, you know, and sometimes it's not easy, right? And in one of the activities we do in the SMART program is we talk about appreciations for the day and have people write them down. And I always point out that sometimes what I really appreciate is just having a sharp pencil. You know, I love sharp pencils, like that's a silly appreciation that I wouldn't put that on my gratitude list, but I would certainly list, as an appreciation–
00:35:57 Maya: Yeah.
00:35:57 Dr. April: For certain that makes me happy.
00:35:59 Maya: I love this kind of work. I mean, I love how I can work with an individual as, you know, have a coach who will take me within the hour of dealing with something that's highly stressful. That's really affected me to finishing up with this feeling of how, you know, just inner peace, like true peace at that moment, we could either be in one space or the other, but that's why we need people like you to guide us in that. And so you work at Mass General, do you offer any kind of telehealth or any kind of virtual support as well? Any coaching?
00:36:35 Dr. April: Yeah, so a couple of things on that regard. So we do at Mass General, the one COVID hit, pre COVID, I was offering these groups in person, the SMART program in person, and as a number of other providers do and were. And since COVID, we offer them, you know, virtually. And in terms of the SMART program, it lends itself really well to a group program because I think part of it, that's so helpful, Maya, is for people to find out that they're not the only ones that struggle with these issues, that we all sort of have similar struggles with stress. And I think sometimes the negative automatic thoughts that go along with stress, that we think that maybe we're the only ones that have that, but knowing that that's, you know, typical and okay, and that there are ways in which that we can choose, you know, other thoughts. So it's a long way of answering that I have stepped into, fill in a little bit at the home base program, and then we do those virtually, that's a program for veterans and family members.
00:37:42 Dr. April: And then, I've had the… been, again, great fortune of being at Mass General and working with clinicians there. And through a program there, a bunch of us got certified as health and well-being coaches. So now, you know, because you're absolutely right, a coach is different from another type of professional that you're working with. And there are… it's much more of a partnership, and there's a lot of positive psychology that goes within that. So I do do some work with some fellow clinicians and health care providers at the hospital through that. And I'm just starting a little private practice, but mainly working through the hospital in different types of populations within that reach.
00:38:27 Maya: Yes. And you know, now that you're sort of talking about just your work, I wonder how different it is, you know, when we talk about like our medical professionals, our physicians who are not necessarily trained in prescribing nutrition or exercise as medicine, really not trained in lifestyle medicine in general, how different is your training in psychiatry compared to where you are today? You said that I think in 20, was it in 20, was it last year when you became certified, board certified in lifestyle medicine?
00:38:58 Dr. April: It was 2021, but I think it feels such a blur. It was December 2021. And then the next year, I think everybody knows that strange experience in the early COVID years, that it's just, time's taken a strange twist.
00:39:14 Maya: Right. And so how different is it when you came into this lifestyle, which I didn't even touch on, how… who introduced you to lifestyle medicine? And how did that take you from your work in psychiatry to where you are today, now trained almost like a coach?
00:39:31 Dr. April: Yeah, well, I'll tell you, it's not a funny story. And it's not that long, but there are a lot of interesting people. And again, been so fortunate to have my training at Mass General, but to your point, like we didn't learn a lot about the pillars of lifestyle medicine in terms of like physical activity and well, nutrition is kind of the classic, I'm sure you heard this from a lot of physicians, like in medical school, we got hardly any nutritional training, you know, it's embarrassing to think about, and I'm not even that old, you know, so I went to medical school, I finished in 2002. So basically, but nowadays, it's really incorporated into many medical schools and residencies, nutritional training, and it's really gotten so much more attention and physical activity. And again, we're really making great headway. And, you know, I commend everyone at the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and helping doing that work, because again, it's so necessary.
00:40:34 Dr. April: But to go backwards a little bit, in psychiatry, I just love to talk to people. So I love to talk to you. I just really like and think it's so important for people to be able to tell their story and experience and that absolutely there's a role for medicines in terms of mental health conditions. And that's without a doubt, you know, and they're very needed and necessary, but we also need the lifestyle interventions and the behavioral attention to some of the behaviors that people are doing. And again, many people are in circumstances that are really difficult and challenging. And maybe not that they can't do these, it's complicated. You know, I came from a family, no one in my family was in medicine. So I was the only doctor in the family. So. And not everybody has the most healthy behaviors. That's true for everybody, right? Lifestyle behaviors. And that's true for me, for me and my family, too.
00:41:40 Dr. April: So one of the… I remember going to a conference, I think we mentioned my husband. He and I met in medical school, but he's a physiatrist or rehab doctor. I don't know if you know about that field, but physical medicine rehabilitation. So Dr. Eddie Phillips, who is in his department and Dr. Beth Frates there, they were in the Spalding program here in Massachusetts. And I went to Dr. Eddie Phillips’ talk when he started the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine. So he would always have these conferences. And he's like, what are you doing here again, April? And then he kept on showing up because I just love what he was talking about. And so, you know, that's, I kept on following that. And then I got the additional training in the mind-body medicine at the Benson-Henry Institute because all these things really just add to the care of an individual and are nice compliments. And the coaching is just another additional tool. And not everybody needs a psychiatrist. But I think most people need to pay more attention to the mental health. So, you know, now having the additional training as a health and wellbeing coach, it's just another way to potentially meet people where they're at, but also have the ability to provide them with a lot of information and education.
00:42:56 Maya: So in many ways, you have been on your own journey in terms of your career, and how you've gathered all these tools to support your patients. You know, you mentioned group therapy, I call it group therapy, but the group program, I find that sort of setting to be so effective. I also like that in this field of lifestyle medicine, we have more and more individuals that are trauma-informed, which is absolutely incredible. And, you know, I'd like to thank my high school counselor, because she was the first individual to introduce me to this mental health, taking care of my mental health many years ago. And I grew up with a lot of issues at home, and a lot of trauma. And she would pull me out once a week to counsel me in a group setting with other disturbed teenagers. And so when we graduated from high school, Dr. Hirschberg, I'm sorry, Dr. Hirschberg.
00:43:52 Dr. April: That’s fine, yeah, go ahead.
00:43:54 Maya: Let me say that. Let's make sure we get her name right.
00:43:57 Dr. April: Yes.
00:43:57 Maya: But Dr. Hirschberg, when we graduated from high school, after I tossed my cap, the first thing we did is, we looked for each other, those of us that had been in a group setting. And we said, we did it.
00:44:08 Dr. April: Oh, no.
00:44:09 Maya: We graduated from high school. And that started my path towards getting therapy. And I've had various therapists, psychiatrists, and all of that. And I continue to do the work, but now I love coaches.
00:44:22 Dr. April: Yeah. Yes.
00:44:23 Maya: And if you are in psychiatry and you have that additional training of being trauma-informed and also knowing how to do group therapy, that's where I've had some of my major breakthroughs, is in a group setting because the trust that you build among that small group is incredible.
00:44:39 Dr. April: Yes. Well, first of all, I'm so glad that you had that counselor, you know, way back then, Maya, and that you've continued to, you know, take advantage of some of these opportunities for you because I think that is the most important part. I wish we had less stigma around these modalities, you know, for people to take care of themselves because it's so important. But to your point, I think it does start at the school. I also went to the guidance counselor when I was in, you know, elementary and middle school, and I have very fond memories. And I do think I wanted to be a doctor because I loved going to my own pediatrician. So, you know, it happens early, you know, we get exposed to people that really can help us. So I think that, but the group environment is so important, too because the SMART program that I'm running or that I have the opportunity to run because I didn't start it, you know, I didn't invent it. But we consider it, not as a supportive psychotherapy group, it's more of a psychoeducational group.
00:45:42 Dr. April: But you're absolutely right because there is something about being in a group with other people. And like I said, recognizing, and I share very honestly, like, these stress management tools, I utilize too, like, and there's sometimes I'm on these Zooms, I was like, well, I didn't really sleep very well last night, you know, so I'm not my sharpest. So they know that it's a real person working with them that, you know, has real struggles with, you know, issues because life intervenes sometimes. But I think in the group setting, we can feel less alone, and, which is, again, that important other pillar in lifestyle medicine and social connection. And it doesn't have to be a huge. We can get social connection from a variety of different places. It can be within, you know, a mental health field or mental health setting or can be with other individuals as well.
00:46:37 Maya: Yes, yes. And as a matter of fact, while we're talking about sort of a group setting, not necessarily the same thing, but you and your husband are very passionate about working within a program that's also the resilient warrior, resilient family program called Home Base, and there's a podcast involved. Tell us how this all came about. And what is it? Who is this program for?
00:47:03 Dr. April: Oh, yeah. No, that's another great program. And again, this is where I feel so fortunate to be in Massachusetts, you know, and at Mass General because it really is a rich area for medicine and academics, of course. But Home Base, is it's called Home Base Program for Veterans and Families. And it's really why it's called Home Base is because it started as a partnership between the Red Sox Foundation, Boston Red Sox Foundation, and Mass General Hospital. So Tim Wakefield, I mean, there's a lot of stories, but basically, the Red Sox went to visit Walter Reed Hospital, you know, and we're visiting with some of the injured veterans there. And it fostered a big conversation because they have a foundation and they have an affiliation with Mass General. And this partnership was born to be able to take care of the invisible wounds of war and those primarily traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress because those are often, you know, not that they're not important, but they're not as visible as somebody that's, you know, lost a limb, or something like that. So. And again, to reduce some of the stigma associated with it, you know, they do a lot of education and outreach that Home Base does. And that's why the podcast sort of came about because, as you mentioned, my husband and I didn't serve in the military, but certainly have a profound gratitude for the service that the military provides, and we can only be here doing what we're doing because of what, the sacrifices of so many.
00:48:51 Dr. April: So that podcast is talking a little bit about the bridge between the civilian world and the military world. Again, not that they're so different, but there's also, that there is a partnership that needs to be able to help everybody access this type of care and treatment potentially. So they have their… the resilient family and resilient warrior programs is, based on this, partly in the SMART program or the relaxation response program. It's a partnership with Benson-Henry Institute, too. So it's all this overlap with all these programs. But they also at Home Base offer a lot of wellness programming and fitness because the entry point for some people is around fitness, and especially for individuals, you know, who've served, you know, they've done unfortunately a lot of physical and movement related programs, but a lot of people love fitness, and they are able to access that some nutritional services. So it's a lot of programs and it's free. And again, so little that's free in this world. So we always like to tell people about it. So hopefully we can give the listeners that too, that program.
00:50:10 Maya: Yes, we're going to make sure to put the link in the show notes. And I'd love for you, my listeners to, you know, have a listen, check out the website and maybe share it with another person who you think might benefit. I did have the opportunity to listen to the most recent episode with your husband and one of the guests who talked about how, when the family member, which could be mom or dad or both parents, when the family member serves, it's not really just the parent that serves the children sort of sacrifice their lifestyle as well when the parent is not only physically absent, but this is the part that touched me, Dr. Hirschberg, because I am an emotional person and I'm touched by these beautiful stories, is how they're using, for example, the Sesame Street characters in speaking to children and seeing themselves in these characters that have also had the parent that is not physically present, but also emotionally not always available because of the psychological component of having served. So what you're doing through the podcast and through this program that is free for families in the military, I think it's so beautiful to do this.
00:51:23 Dr. April: Well, and I'm glad you mentioned that one because it reminded me of something I forgot to mention, Maya, is that they do have a resilient youth program that they're offering to the children of military service members and veterans. And so that's in partnership with the Benson-Henry, but also the child psychiatry and adolescent program at Mass General. So it's all tailored through, they have elementary school groups, they have middle school groups, they have high school groups, and it's all tailored to some of the topics that, as you point out, like a parent being deployed is a very different stressor for a young child as opposed to somebody whose parent is not deployed or both parents are at home or something like that.
00:52:11 Maya: Yeah. Well, this is amazing. Thank you for that. I mean, this is a wonderful way for us to support the people that give us the help to keep our freedoms that we have in this country. It's a wonderful way to honor them for their service. So we definitely want to encourage people to check that out. Another thing that you do that I'm very, and we're both actually very passionate about is supporting women in health and more specifically supporting women in supporting their own mental health. Last year, as we were approaching the Lifestyle Medicine Conference, I actually hosted some of the speakers that were set to speak at the conference here on the podcast. So I had several individuals, including one of your colleagues that came on to talk about mental health. And so tell us what you're up to when it comes to women's health and about your involvement in this year's conference.
00:53:04 Dr. April: Oh, sure. Well, you know, like you said, there's so many people that are involved in the ACLM, and there's so many great member interest groups. And I happen to be involved in the Mental and Behavioral Health Member Interest Group. And I think you had Dr. Alyssa Bela, I actually realized I only just call her Alyssa, so I don't know how to pronounce her last name. But she and I, you know, we've Zoomed a few times. And so I work within that Member Interest Group. And I know there's… I think she was on your podcast, and she presented on a great topic last year. And one of the things that I also attend sometimes is the Women's Health Member Interest Group. So I've got to meet some of the people through there. So for this fall, we're offering, for the Lifestyle Medicine 2023, we're going to do a workshop, a pre-conference workshop on lifestyle medicine and women's mental health across the reproductive lifespan, basically. I don't know if that's the exact title, but that's the basic gist. But because some of the, I didn't mention that, right after my residency, I did work for many years in the Women's Mental Health Program at Mass General. And that's another great resource for women.
00:54:20 Dr. April: And they keep it very active blog with looking at different periods or episodes in a woman's life that there's a little bit increased risk of mental health conditions around, you know, premenstrual, premenstrually, or around pregnancy and postpartum, and then perimenopause and menopause. So based on some of that work, but also some of the great work that's being done by some colleagues in the ACLM, myself and Dr. Kristi Vanwinden, I think you talked with, and then also Nancy Isenberg and [Iorga], who's a neurologist. So we have OB-GYN neurology and psychiatry, and we're all kind of partnering and going to give a great talk on what we can do to help bolster women's mental health using some lifestyle medicine pillars and also some of the self-care that's kind of unique to women or people who identify as women. So, you know, around caretaking or some of the unique struggles in COVID or, you know, certainly the higher risk that women or individuals identifying as women face in terms of history of violence that they might have been a victim of. So there's a lot of topics that we'll touch upon. So it'll be a great morning.
00:55:44 Maya: Yes, I'm looking forward to that. And well, there are the topics that you will talk about at the conference. If you can sort of give us a little bit of a hint in terms of like even some of those common stressors that women face and how do they process stress differently than men?
00:56:02 Dr. April: Well, I think so, this… so let me write it down so I remember. So can you say it one more time, Maya?
00:56:08 Maya: Yes, and I say they, when I should include myself. So let me say that again, I have my allergies acting up today. So I'm wondering, as we're talking about women's mental health in your workshop, if you can sort of give us a little bit of a hint of what you might address, you said various topics, what are some of the common stressors that women face that are maybe unique to women, you talked a little bit about physical health, and how do we process stress differently than men? For some reason, I sort of feel like sometimes men tend to be a little bit more resilient, they're not as easily triggered, they, you know, are not in that fight or flight mode as quickly or easily as we women, I don't know, because I don't want to generalize either. But how do we process stress differently?
00:57:01 Dr. April: Well, it's a good question. I think there are certain things about women or biologically female individuals because estrogen, just to point out estrogen that again, both men and women have, but women have more of and episodically are being at higher amounts, again, throughout the menstrual cycle, and then throughout different periods of life. So estrogen interacts with serotonin as a neuromodulator. And serotonin is something that we have in our brains and our guts because that's why sometimes, if we feel a lot of stress or distress, we might get a stomach upset, you know, because we have serotonin receptors in our gastrointestinal system. But this estrogen serotonin connection really does put women at a heightened risk, you know, are vulnerable, a little more vulnerable to stress because of certain times that they may have lower estrogen, you know what I mean? And those times are sometimes not predictable, especially during periods of time like perimenopause and other or even in the menstrual cycle. So women are inherently a little bit at times, maybe a little more vulnerable to stress based on their hormonal status. And again, it's helping individuals recognize and be responsive to that stress awareness.
00:58:27 Dr. April: So some of the tools, especially around individuals with premenstrual mood worsening or, you know, struggles around that, just tracking your symptoms or signals of stress or distress helps because you can then anticipate like, you know, at a certain time, you might be a little less able to withstand some of the stressors that you might have been okay with standing even two weeks prior. So again, it's just stress awareness. So I think that's one tip that women can really utilize is to try to learn as much as they can about their own experience and how they perceive experiences. But also just recognizing too, that again, this is a generalized statement, but many women or individuals who, I should say could be the individual who is staying at home and being the caretaker, I think it's that role that often gives one more stress. Because that role, not only do you have your own role as, you know, in your job or in your outside role, outside the home, but within the home, you're also thinking about all the things within the home. So whoever is sort of in the caretaking role at home has much more stress because they're juggling all kinds of balls that other people might not see who aren't doing those roles. And again, it can be a stereotype. But, you know, when you're doing the meal prep and making sure the cleaning and making sure all these things happen at home, in addition to outside the home, that's going to give anybody a lot of extra stress that the people who don't do it, don't even know that that individual does that.
01:00:15 Maya: Yes.
01:00:15 Dr. April: So I think that's something to just be aware of.
01:00:18 Maya: So it's interesting. I recently heard a podcast where the guest was talking about a topic I'd never heard of and I can't even tell you what the title of it was. But it's really addressing the work equity related to managing the home. So there's a term for it. And this individual was basically saying that it defaults to whoever stays at home. So it can be a male or female. All the responsibilities default to that individual and the other individual checks out. It's almost like they're coming to a hotel and a restaurant. Right? So I said, I brought it up with my husband, I said, we need to have a conversation. But no, I thought I should bring this individual on the podcast to talk about what that looks like and how to ask for help and how to ask, to be supported when you're the one that is running the home because not only are you responsible for care taking or taking care of the children, whatever, it could be an adult, you could be taking care of your parent, your adult parent, and you still have to do the groceries and clean the house. And that's just so much like you say, out of stress, whereas an individual who has a different setting, they disconnect from the home, they're in their office or job, whatever that may be. And then they come home to rest.
01:01:42 Dr. April: Right.
01:01:43 Maya: Very different when you're working at home. So that's a wonderful topic to address. And then the other thing just briefly, I sometimes feel that women are sort of shamed for being emotional, especially when we are affected by our hormones monthly, or even going through menopause. Right away, we're shamed and labeled as this and this, as if it's not okay not to be okay. And I'm learning to be able to say, you know, this is how I'm feeling without reacting.
01:02:16 Dr. April: Right.
01:02:17 Maya: Or being too verbal about it. But I think the more we get comfortable in saying I'm not having a good day and if it's, is it okay that we catch up later on, the more that we can be comfortable with being uncomfortable, I think that's empowering in many ways.
01:02:33 Dr. April: Well, and like you said, kind of setting limits because, you know, there's really… there are going to be certain situations where again, maybe not you personally, but anyone that's a little bit more in the stress response when we're being, you know, a little more in charge by our amygdala, that sort of older part of our brain, rather than the prefrontal that's very clear headed and thinking clearly, you know, we're not going to be best suited for some of these conversations, you know.
01:03:02 Maya: Yeah.
01:03:03 Dr. April: And going back to the last one, I wanted to just mention, I realized I mentioned Goldie Hawn, I didn't mention it, but when she's working with the kids, she has this program called MindUP. And it's, she partnered with scholastic. But in the description of the amygdala, that fear part of our brain, the stress response part, she talks about it as the barking dog. And then the prefrontal cortex is being the wise old owl that sort of is all seeing. So it's only when we're in that relaxation response that we're able to see things clearly from above with some distance. And so when we're right in it, and again, and sometimes again, within the home, we're right in the midst of it, we're not going to be able to see clearly. So having a little bit of distance and saying, yeah, this isn't the right time to talk about this, is really important. Absolutely.
01:03:53 Maya: Wonderful. So, Dr. Hirschberg, is there anything else that you would like to share with our listeners? Is there something that I might have skipped or didn't ask that you think we should know about?
01:04:05 Dr. April: Well, I guess one thing that I always try to do and think about is, you know, trying to get this information into everybody's hands. I guess that's the thing is, like, I think I mentioned this before, it's never too late to learn some of these strategies for ourselves. But it's also never too early. That's why I really, you know, commend what Goldie Hawn is doing with her program because she's getting into the schools. And I think in a way, to be able to start talking about the stress response and relaxation response, as two very natural parts of ourselves that we can learn to access and, you know, that everyone should have some of this information and tools. And I just don't know how, really to get it to people, you know, because I don't think people should have to pay for a course or, you know, do this. And that's why I wish sometimes that we could get this more into schools. And it is going into some schools. The Benson-Henry program has a resilient school program teaching teachers.
01:05:13 Dr. April: But I just wish we all could have learned this sooner because I think we would have been better off. I guess that's my sort of take home message. So that's why I'm just so happy that you had me on the podcast. And for people to look at into this more because it's really important and it's very self empowering, but it's not to diminish that we don't also maybe need, you know, more traditional, you know, mental health care or a psychiatrist or psychologists, you know, and not everyone can manage things with lifestyle behaviors or, but it's a nice compliment. But I just… it's like the foundation going back to that stool that Dr. Benson talks about, we need to have an even balanced tool so we can approach life, you know, in a more balanced way.
01:06:02 Maya: Yes. And I think what you likely are touching on is making this, you know, like when we talk about health equity, making it available and accessible to everyone, not everyone can afford to go see a psychiatrist, that can be very expensive, even a coach.
01:06:19 Dr. April: Yeah. Yeah.
01:06:20 Maya: But to know that there are tools out there, for example, I do listen to some meditation podcasts because now and podcasts are free, by the way, I keep saying that I'm going to make a video on explaining how podcasting works, but you can download the app, whether it's Apple or Spotify, and look for relaxation and/or yoga to listen to those things. And one thing that I also learned, someone told me about Wim Hof, the Wim Hof app, those are the deep breaths, my husband says, all you're doing is hyperventilating.
01:06:55 Dr. April: Oh, right. Right. And that was a cold too, right?
01:06:58 Maya: Yeah.
01:06:59 Dr. April: Yes.
01:06:59 Maya: But what I've learned in the evening that works for me and it's amazing, is when my mind starts to do that busyness and, you know, overwhelming myself with thoughts, is I take deep, profound breaths, and I just focus on my breathing. And before you know it, I'm asleep. But YouTube is a great resource. So if you want to tell us about what we can look for, for example, on YouTube, a YouTube podcast, and also some of the other apps that may be a one time fee, like 399, I don't know, but I have considered using either Headspace or Calm, and I don't know if they're free or not. But are there–
01:07:34 Dr. April: Oh, I can tell you a little bit. Yeah. So.
01:07:36 Maya: Please, yes.
01:07:36 Dr. April: So a couple of things. So the Benson-Henry Institute does have some things on their website. They have actually a nice YouTube video of Dr. Herb Benson guiding someone through how to elicit the relaxation response. So I highly recommend that. And then the other ones, some of the ones that you mentioned, Headspace and Calm are both apps. They do have introductory offers that are free. Headspace, for example, their like tagline is the gym membership for the mind. So that's always, that's a nice, that's a great tagline. So that was the first one I used. And they're partnering a lot with employers and offering that free, some employers are offering it. And someone just told me that Netflix, actually, it was someone in one of my groups, told me that Netflix offers either Headspace or Calm. I can't remember because I haven't… I don't know how to use that Netflix, only my teenagers do. So. But basically, you can apparently access that, that's not free, but… and then Insight Timer is another app that's totally free. And that has a lot of meditations and mindfulness opportunities here.
01:08:47 Maya: Yeah. And you know what, speaking of Netflix, they just added a whole series of other videos that are, I want to say, maybe Nike related, it's some sort of the name of it, I don't know who supports it. So I probably should link it if I find it.
01:09:02 Dr. April: Oh.
01:09:02 Maya: They are–
01:09:02 Dr. April: Oh, one last thing, Maya, can I interrupt you? Sorry.
01:09:05 Maya: Yes, yes.
01:09:05 Dr. April: The other thing I was just gonna say is Calm. Again, that cost some money. But, like my son, I mentioned him too. But LeBron James is on there talking and talking about how these types of practices helps him. So I think, if it's appealing to people and about, with somebody that they sort of respect or, you know, anybody that sort of has a high level of something, obviously, he has.
01:09:31 Maya: Yes.
01:09:32 Dr. April: But there's another great book to the Goldie Hawn. She had written a book called 10 Mindful Minutes, which I've listened to an audio book. I don't know if you've ever heard that one. But that's for people with younger kids. But the other interesting person is Dan Harris, I don't know if you've heard of him. But Dan Harris was a speaker at one of the Benson-Henry institutes too. And he wrote a book called 10% Happier. And he has quite an interesting story. And he has a podcast and, you know, has some meditations on there too. So I recommend that to people because he is a journalist, was also very skeptical about the benefits of, like meditation and what that can do. So he does it sort of like an investigative journalist type approach.
01:10:17 Maya: Yes, he's the one that had the live panic attack.
01:10:21 Dr. April: Yes.
01:10:21 Maya: On air.
01:10:22 Dr. April: Yes.
01:10:22 Maya: Yeah. So.
01:10:23 Dr. April: He talked about that. So it was pretty fascinating. So I think, for people to watch him and listen to him, I think he's got a certain, you know, relatability because he certainly has experienced the benefits of these practices.
01:10:40 Maya: That's right. And then there are also… I mean, there's so many resources, but YouTube provides you, free resources that you can also use your app to watch some of these. I started many years ago with guided meditations and nature walks. And those help me to presence myself when I'm in nature. So there are many resources that can be supportive for us. And like I said, I also have the book, The Relaxation Response.
01:11:05 Dr. April: Yes.
01:11:06 Maya: Because I wanted to understand it more. But all of these tools are so available. And then just one more thing that I do want to mention is my husband sometimes has a busy mind at night. One thing that he started doing to help him sleep is put on a White Noise app.
01:11:22 Dr. April: Yeah.
01:11:23 Maya: So.
01:11:24 Dr. April: Is it Bedtime Fan?
01:11:24 Maya: Every night.
01:11:25 Dr. April: We use the Bedtime Fan. So there's a White Noise.
01:11:28 Maya: I need to ask him, but every night, we go to sleep to the sound of rain. And I was like, I don't really have that much of a problem going to sleep. But I find that it's very soothing.
01:11:39 Dr. April: Right.
01:11:40 Maya: So it's important to support, not only ourselves, but our partners because maybe our partners struggle a little bit with stress or sleep or anything like that. So.
01:11:48 Dr. April: Absolutely. And that… oh, one last thing is the one other thing I wanted to just bring about is that there's also… everybody has unique ways to bring about their own relaxation response. And for some, you mentioned partners, like I mentioned before, my husband is a musician. So for some people, music can really elicit the relaxation response by listening to music or certainly playing music for those who can play who have that gift. But that can bring about a very… that breaks the train of everyday thought because when you're in that flow of doing something else and, you know, or cooking, there's just something that really gives your mind a break.
01:12:27 Maya: Yes.
01:12:27 Dr. April: And break [thoughts].
01:12:28 Maya: That's the point. That's the key, is to give ourselves a break from all the thoughts.
01:12:33 Dr. April: Yeah.
01:12:33 Maya: And when we're not thinking for that slight half second or whatever, whatever it is, it feels so good.
01:12:39 Dr. April: Yes.
01:12:40 Maya: To not be thinking.
01:12:41 Dr. April: Yes.
01:12:41 Maya: Or stressing. This has been a wonderful conversation. Thank you so much for taking the time, Dr. Hirschberg.
01:12:48 Dr. April: Well, thank you.
01:12:48 Maya: To really support my listeners. Thank you so much.
01:12:51 Dr. April: Thank you. Thanks so much.
01:12:54 Maya: Oh, and one more thing. Are there any websites of yours or any other contact information that you'd like to share in case people want to inquire more about how to manage their stress?
01:13:05 Dr. April: Well, I mean, I think I probably refer people back to the Benson-Henry Institute website because they have, I didn't go into a lot of the research because Dr. Benson wrote that book back in like 1973 or ‘75 or something, but he's done significant research, you know, at the… looking at even the gene level and some of, you know, fMRI studies, looking at the studies of the brain and some of the impact this has. So I would refer people to that website at www.bensonhenryinstitute.O-R-G. And you can find everything I've been talking about, all these resiliency programs. And then the other one is probably the Home Base we talked about. I don't know that one off the top of my head, but you could Google Home Base program for veterans.
01:13:56 Maya: Okay.
01:13:56 Dr. April: And then my own one, I have a little website, you know, because I do a little bit of lifestyle medicine consultation and trying to run some of these programs privately for individuals with the high risk for cancer. That's kind of my little program that I'm trying to get off the ground. And so mine is www.AprilHirschberg.com. So it's very [easy].
01:14:21 Maya: Wonderful. Yeah. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you being here today.
01:14:25 Dr. April: Thank you.
01:14:27 Maya: All right, friends. Thank you for joining us for this enlightening conversation with Dr. April Hirschberg. And we hope that you gained valuable insights into the benefits of mind-body medicine. We've given you so many resources that it's amazing. I can't wait for you to check those out. We talked about the importance of stress management, resilience, building and practical tips for improving your overall well-being. Remember, taking care of yourself is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. And with the right tools and mindset, you can build resilience and find peace and even the most challenging of times. So be sure to put Dr. Hirschberg’s advice and practice and stay tuned for more inspiring interviews on the Healthy Lifestyle Solutions podcast. As always, thank you for being a listener.
01:15:19 Maya: You've been listening to the Healthy Lifestyle Solutions podcast with your host, Maya Acosta. If you've enjoyed this podcast, do us a favor and share with one friend who can benefit from this episode. Feel free to leave an honest review as well at ratethispodcast.com/H-L-S. This helps us to spread our message. And as always, thank you for being a listener.