Peak Mind Performance

On my podcast this week I spoke to licensed psychologist Dr. Steve Hannant about “conditioning the mind for success!” I think that is a goal for our children, teens, and adults – don’t you? Dr. Steve had an amazing training experience in psychology that included a unique blend of East meets West mental health mentors. His dissertation in sports psychology included qualitatively studying the traits of elite mixed martial arts athletes. The areas of study included:

  1. Goal setting

  2. Breath work

  3. Imagery and Visualization

  4. Attention and Concentration

  5. Self hypnosis and Autogenic training

  6. Arousal regulation

  7. Rituals and Routines

  8. Meditation and Mindfulness

 

What mental strength criteria separate “the best from the rest?” Dr. Hannant said that after awhile he could just tell by interviewing MMA legends such as Dan Severn, “The Beast,” and Founder of Team Quest Matt Lindland and others that “MINDSET is everything!” A commonality of many champions includes having obsessive compulsive traits coupled with a mindset that is able to adapt with diversity. He emphasizes that repetition is key and “know the skills and do the drills,” is advice he give his clients. He loves incorporating his knowledge of sports psychology into his psychological practice and evaluation of each individual’s unique way of processing the world. I mentioned the word “neurostyle,” as a way that we can describe human behavior. He loved this and agrees that the way we talk about mental health can make a difference in the way we all feel about getting help or reaching our full thrive capacity.

 

Dr. Steve and I agree that it is important to: Embrace Your Neurostyle.

 

Having an awareness of one’s own strengths and weaknesses physically and mentally can help set realistic intentions for our best life. Can you imagine if each child had a mental health screening in addition to their physical examination every year at school? I am not talking about putting diagnostic labels on everyone. I am talking about a neurodevelopmental mini-evaluation with feedback to parents and children for their child to have a greater self -awareness. I also advocate strongly for a daily practice of meditation or mindfulness as “mind medicine” to promote excellent cognition, to improve empathy, to reduce stress, improve mood, and more!

 

When individuals thrive society thrives.

 

Dr. Steve and his wife incorporated the mental training program skillsets into a class for kindergarteners at his daughter’s school. He reported that the youngsters loved learning about the importance of breath work, goal setting, meditation, attention and other resiliency tools. Our Manhattan Beach school district incorporates the Goldie Hawn Foundation’s Mind Up Program https://mindup.org/?nabm=1, which embraces neuroscience, positive psychology, and mindful awareness. As a board certified Adult and Child Psychiatrist that is passionate about prevention, early intervention, and mental health advocacy I vote “YES” on integrative wellbeing programs in our schools, our offices and in our homes.

Dr. Steve is a fan (so am I!) of Coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success: Building Blocks For a Better Life book and spoke about this and other tools, tips and strategies that he includes in his website: http://www.mentaltrainingprogram.com.

To listen to our podcast: Dr. Steve Hannant on the Dr. Denise Show

Are you interested in more tips on mental health and how to thrive? Click here: Mental Health and How to Thrive ebook

It was a pleasure talking with you this week Dr. Steve, thank you again!

Dr. Denise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spirit – Mind – Body

I am grateful as a doctor to be living at a time when the Mind, Body, Spirit paradigm shift has been introduced and embraced by many. I honor and thank the Pioneers of Integrative Medicine that have paved the way for succeeding generations.

The “humanistic relationship” and therapeutic trust between my patients and myself has always been the key to starting a collaborative relationship.

I believe setting intentions of love and compassion for your self are the start to your health, happiness and inner peace.

You are not your target symptoms. You are a multidimensional individual with thoughts, feelings, and perceptions that matter to me. They should matter to you too.

I believe we are ready as a society to embrace the Spirit—Mind—Body approach. You have to start with Spirit.

His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama defines spirituality with great clarity: “In Ancient Wisdom, Modern World “spirituality” is concerned with those qualities of the human spirit such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony-which bridges happiness to both self and others…”

‘Human spirit’ can be thought of as your intention to be the kindest, most loving and compassionate you.

A fundamental first exploration with my patients includes, “What makes you happy? “ It is important to know where each individual’s starting point is. In a warm and engaging manner, I find out how each child, teen, or adult views their health and well-being in the context of their developmental stage and Worldview.

“Why are you here? How can I help you?” Questions are asked in a way that inspire self empowerment from the start. “Your opinion matters to me.” It is important to make the point, “We all perceive and process the world in our own unique way.” This statement is a “shame-breaker.”

In medical school you are trained to know the interview style which includes the famous “chief complaint.” “What brings you here today?” That is important, yet let’s take it a step further. How about thinking about your goal for achieving your “chief success or aspiration of how you want to feel?” Do you feel the difference in the words? They are healing intentions. Yours.

You are a fundamental part of activating your path to well-being.

So, I believe that step one to reaching health and wellness is engaging my patients to want to be “their own best version of themselves” and for younger kids the thought of “being your own best friend.”

I work with a lot of children. I find that kids and parents really want the “bottom- line”, with an outlined health plan. We all do. I believe that the bio-psycho-social assessment coupled with a Spirit, Mind, Body approach leads to multidimensional well-being.

Spirit-Mind-Body Approach For Children Made Simple:

 

Step One: Spirit: Be Your Own Best Friend. Set the intention that you will be aligning with your highest self. Spirit sets the pace.

I collaborate, empower, and foster a trusting space with each individual that makes it known that they need to engage in the goal of starting their journey of health with the intention of “being your own best friend”.

I expect you to want to shift from being in crisis, to stabilization, with the end point being “thriving”. We figure out together what thriving looks like for you.

 

Examples:

With kids (age 5 to preteen): I define my role “I am a feelings doctor.”

I ask “What did your parents tell you about coming here today? Was it your idea to be here or your parent’s idea? Or both?” I validate all possibilities.

I convey to each person “Your opinion matters to me. This is your health.” We might play games, build legos or draw a picture.

I ask, “Is there anything you want help with or want to feel better with?” Common responses from kids are “I want to focus more.” “I care too much about what other people think.”

“If you could design a school or family routine that was your favorite what would it look like to you?”

This approach engages the child into thinking about what their best life would look like.

 

Step Two: Assessing the Mind. Essentially what are your thoughts like?

I interview with open-ended questions using the framework of Western medicine. I value science and medicine and will make a treatment plan with the current standard of psychiatric care.

I emphasize, “You are not your symptoms or your diagnostic labels. You can help change your thoughts to healthy ones.”

Neurodiversity is embraced and I carefully choose words that promote wellness, not illness. I educate my patients as to why I use terms that allow for a “flight towards health and well-being”.

Examples: If someone is struggling with an eating disorder such as Anorexia (as defined by the DSMV/Western medicine) the treatment plan is defined and aligned with a multidisciplinary approach based on scientific data coupled with the collaborative “thrive plan” that each person and family system helps to create.

I quickly educate my patient that we will now be calling it your “nutrition issue” (a neutral reframe) or if a different term works for my patient I have them “coin their own term” and I coach them to phrase it in a neutral or positive way.

Why? This promotes a cognitive reframe, sets the intention for wellness and shifts an individuals thought into “Act as if” already healthy mode. P.S. Not everyone is ready to do this from the start. That is ok. It is a process. It happens at the pace it is going to happen.

Key point. My patients know that their thoughts make a difference to feeling better.

 

Step Three: Assessing the Body. Essentially what is your Physical health like?

To honor your overall well-being you need to take care of your physical health and your nutrition. I work closely with primary care doctors to make sure a physical exam and lab work has been done. I am open to all viewpoints of assessing physical well-being. Exercise, Nutrition and Meditation/Mindfulness are all part of the assessment and treatment recommendations.

In summary:

Spirit- “Be your own best friend.”

Mind- “Have healthy thoughts.”

Body “Be physically healthy.”

I view the Spirit—Mind—Body Paradigm as the progressive evolution of what our Masterminds in medicine, science and spirituality have been restating throughout history.

 

Dr. Denise

 

 

Education with a Heart

Our children spend half of their waking hours in school and our educators play an enormous role in shaping our children’s lives academically, socially, and emotionally. I had the honor of interviewing Professor Edward Mooney this week on my podcast. Dr. Mooney shared his story of how he went from possibly being a teenage drop out to being the passionate educator, author, father and grandfather that he is today. His father was an alcoholic and was repeatedly physically abusive to him as a teen. He described arriving at school one day without his homework, after a violent morning at home. He was on the verge of just giving up. He was heading to the office to officially call it quits and drop out! A compassionate teacher reached out to young Ed with such grace and care that left him with a feeling of safety and love which has shaped and inspired the rest of his life.

Can you stop and think about a teacher who showed you this type of care and compassion?

I remember a very kind teacher that kept me after class in fifth grade and with the greatest love and concern asked, “How are you?” She noticed that I was not raising my hand as much in class and that I was overall disinterested in school. She knew this was out of character for me and she took the time in a very thoughtful way to check in with me. I remember crying and sharing that a family member was hospitalized and was in critical condition. Her listening ear helped at a crucial time when I needed it the most. I felt loved and cared for in school and it made a lasting impression.

Our teachers and school administrators can provide an environment for children to receive education coupled with compassion.

“To reach a child’s mind, first reach a child’s heart.” – Dr. Edward Mooney,Jr.

A holistic “integrative wellbeing” focus in OUR schools creates a foundation for learning, socializing and embracing one’s unique way of processing the world. Dr. Mooney is passionate about instilling values of compassion and kindness in his classroom, or what he calls “Schroeder values,” after Lowell Schroeder, his childhood education superhero that changed his life. Dr. Mooney shared his specific “P.S. card- personal situation card” system that is in place in his classroom. This is a way his students can write on a notecard to let him know when they are dealing with a home life or personal matter. The message being sent is, “I am here for you and I want to help you get through this situation.” I applaud Ed for this tangible solution and really believe that our kids need to feel that they are cared for in their educational environment. He and I discussed that sometimes an extra day to turn an assignment in, or a listening ear, can make a world of difference for children who are dealing with a family or personal emergency. It can be the difference between graduating from high school or dropping out!

Dr. Mooney discussed his dissertation on school violence, and we discussed the various ways in which schools can handle the trauma of living through a shooting, specifically environmental and emotional strategies. These help deal with the immediate and the aftermath of a tragic event for the teachers, students and families. He discussed a “bad result” vs. a “good result” protocol after a traumatic event, with specific situations discussed in his thesis. The “trauma train” does not need to continue forever if there are built in “Wellness Protocols”, which we discussed on the show. To listen to the show this week: Dr. Edward Mooney Podcast on the Dr. Denise Show

I shared with Professor Mooney that at our Manhattan Beach elementary school, there is a weekly “spirit” assembly that includes awarding students for strong character and awarding classrooms for environmental awareness. Each week kindergarteners through 5th graders wear their school colors and selected children are chosen to receive acts of kindness awards known as “AOK” awards. Parents stay to watch, sing the school song, and recite the pledge of allegiance each Wednesday. Dr. Mooney was impressed, and as a parent and a child psychiatrist I concur that this type of “integrated wellbeing” assembly creates a foundation for safety, unity, and compassion in our schools.

I have gratitude for all of the educators, school administrators and families that create a safe and loving environment for our children. Dr. Mooney’s approach and dedication to what I call, “Education with a Heart” is to be commended as his philosophy creates a “ripple effect” of wellbeing for society.

Thank you Professor Mooney!

Dr. Denise

Creativity, Mania and Finding Your Sweet Spot

This week I had the honor of interviewing poet, author, and mental health advocate, Yashi Brown. I met Yashi initially on Twitter as her “Gifted with Bipolar” video HuffPost grabbed my attention immediately. She passionately illustrates and raises awareness about her experience with mood symptoms that started in her teens that culminated in a hospitalization at UCLA in her 20’s where she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder type I.

“There is no health without mental health,”  – Yashi Brown

I could not agree more. A healthy mind sets the foundation for wellbeing for all of “US.”

What is Bipolar Disorder? In Western medicine the term and diagnosis of bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes a change in a person’s mood, energy and ability to function. Bipolar Disorder is a category that includes three different conditions- bipolar I, bipolar II and cyclothymic disorder. Bipolar disorders can be treated, and people with these illnesses can lead full and productive lives. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder affects 5.7 million American adults, or about 2.6% of the U.S. population. Early intervention, patient education and a multifaceted treatment approach can help each individual to go from a mental health crisis to stabilization and then thriving. It is important to remember to take a biological, psychological, and social approach coupled with all paths to wellbeing for each individual to find their unique thrive plan.

To read more on Bipolar Disorders: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml

One of the toughest parts of facing mental health challenges for individuals and for “US” as a society is the unspoken shame and stigma around the labels and even the use of the word disorder. I value Western medicine and value an organized and scientific way about talking about human behavior, I just do not view my patients as “disordered.” We are all neurodiverse. Yashi and I discussed the importance of validating the illness part of having mood symptoms coupled with embracing that we all have our own unique neurostyle. Getting over the self inflicted stigma was crucial for Yashi to be able to reach her thrive plan, what she calls “her sweet spot.” Ingredients that make up her thrive plan include regular exercise, balanced nutrition, meditation, support from loved ones, her writing and last but not least- a good night’s sleep! Finding a doctor she trusted along with a combination of medication was just the start of her recovery. Talking about her illness became an instrumental part of her healing from the self inflicted stigma. Yashi was determined to share her story and has been passionately acting as a mental health advocate on a national level.

Here is my interview with Yashi Brown.

Some of the most creative people I work with in my private practice have had bouts of depression with a paralyzing melancholy that can shift into a manic episode quickly. Getting the right combination of medication, psychoeducation, therapy and loving support are essential to getting stabilized in a timely manner. It is really common once someone is feeling back to “their normal” to question, “Do I even have bipolar disorder?” One teen in my practice was feeling great so she went off her medication, left her house without telling anyone and rollerbladed for ten hours in a state of euphoria that made her realize the importance of staying on track with her treatment plan. It is also common for a person who has experienced the highs of a manic episode to request, “Dr. McDermott, please do not overmedicate the creativity out of me.” I cannot emphasize how important it is to form a trusting relationship with your doctor or therapist so you can have those vulnerable conversations that will allow you to reach your “individual thrive zone.”

Thank you Yashi for inspiring us this week with your heartfelt interview and reading your poetry on the show! Her book of poetry, “Black Daisy in a White Limousine” is an urban anthology of modern challenges, passages, spirituality, sexuality, love and family. It can be found on amazon. For more information on Yashi Brown: www.yashibrown.com. Continue reading…

Our Pilgrimage to India


Dr. Sonnee Weedn and I sat down to discuss our transformative pilgrimage to India Autumn 2016. In October 2016 we attended His Holiness, The 14th Dalai Lama’s International Body Mind Life Conference of Men-Tsee-Khang, the Tibetan Medical Society. We were accompanied by Humanitarian Tibetan Buddhist monk Lama Tenzin Choegyal on our voyage to Dharmsala, India to the conference and to his home in Dehradun to spend time with the loving children of the CED (Children’s Education Development) Society.

Embrace Your Neurostyle

We are living at an amazing time in history. Truly. Our understanding that we are multidimensional beings is just starting to become part of the mainstream vernacular. We all perceive and process our environment in our own unique way. An awareness of our own unique “neurostyle’’ allows us to thrive throughout our lifetime. When working with children, teens and adults I value input from many disciplines for each individual behavioral plan. This week on my podcast I had the honor of interviewing my dear friend and colleague, Deborah Ely Budding, Ph.D., a board certified neuropsychologist, author and teacher. She and I have taken an integrative approach while working together since 2001 and I value her expertise, wit, compassion and “bottom line” style immensely.

 

What is a neuropsychologist?

 

“It is a psychologist plus plus. It involves receiving a Ph.D. in psychology as well as a two year neuropsychology program with board certification,” Deb described this week on my podcast. Often times when a child or teen requires an IEP (Individual Education Plan) to excel in school psychoeducation testing is needed which provides general IQ test, academic testing etc. Neuropsychology testing provides a more detailed context of measuring executive function, working memory and provides a “brain road map” by gathering data of different brain functions. Dr. Budding specializes in the sensorimotor development and subcortical contributions to neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders such as ADHD, learning disabilities, mood and anxiety disorders, and pervasive developmental (autism spectrum) disorders. Dr. Budding discussed the evolution of our brain and referenced her favorite Ted Talk 7/2011 with neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert: “The Real Reasons for Brains”: https://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_wolpert_the_real_reason_for_brains?language=enin .

 

Dr. Budding is called upon to work with the most complex clinical questions in her private practice. The qualitative and integrative input that the testing and reports provide, helps guide the treatment plan and allows for a “unified understanding” for parents, educators, psychiatrists, neurologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and other members who are involved in creating a collective comprehensive treatment plan for the patient. Dr. Budding and I meet together to give feedback to the families we work with so an integrative understanding and treatment plan can be agreed upon and executed. The “light bulb” goes on for many people in understanding the way their child processes sensory information which allows an understanding of their neurology or as I like to say, “neurostyle.” We discuss many clinical examples of the benefits of a neuropsychiatric assessment on the podcast.

To listen: (Dr. Deborah Budding Podast on the Dr. Denise Show).

 

Here are some of the most common tips we share with the parents we see:

1.) Stop expecting your kid to be “Johnny on the spot.”
2.) Multistep reminders are helpful.
3.) Get in your child’s space, make eye contact, or tap their shoulder gently so you know they received the information.
4.) Time management awareness is crucial. Using timers throughout the day is a great tool.
5.) Giving your child a roadmap of the day is important. Verbal and written reminders provide a mental framework for the plans of the day.
6.) Sensory breaks are helpful: time in nature, a walk, a bath, reading a book, or your child’s preferred “relax routine.”
7.) Awareness of your child’s neurostyle is empowering for you and your child.
8.) Pace your activities for your child’s (or yours!) sensory style. Ex: A child might not be able to handle loud noises and need to skip fireworks.
9.) Remember to have empathy for different neurostyles.
10.) Making eye contact and processing information at the same time can be difficult for your child, prioritize what is most realistic for your child to thrive.
11.) Often times it is crucial to distinguish between tantrums (usually manipulative) vs. sensory meltdowns (not a willful choice). Gathering this data can be tricky and can require a savvy therapist or behaviorist. You can then set realistic behavioral expectations at school, home and in other environments for your child.
12.) Choosing activities that promote your child’s sensorimotor developmental needs can be a great way to provide integrative interventions. Karate, rock climbing, swimming and other activities might be recommended as part of the “thrive plan.”

Let’s work together to promote the idea for ourselves and our children:

EMBRACE YOUR NEUROSTYLE!

Thanks again Dr. Budding for all of our years of collaboration and for this week’s interview!

Dr. Denise

 

 

Licensed Psychologist, specializing in sport psychology, Dr. Steven Hannant shares how he helps people learn how to use the power of the mind to achieve Peak Performance.


Steven N. Hannant (“Dr.Steve”), Doctor of Psychology and Licensed Psychologist, practices in Eastern North Carolina working primarily with children, adolescents, and special populations of all ages (e.g., ID/DD and ASD). He owns and operates Psychological Mobile Services, PA with offices in Wilson, NC (Wilson Private Practice) and Clayton, NC (Clayton Private Practice). Dr. Steve completed a Post-Doctoral Master of Science in Psychopharmacology and is interested in the evolving field of Medical Psychology. He specializes in psychological testing, evaluations, consulting, and working with the special needs population of all ages. In addition to treating the mental health diagnoses, Dr. Steve works with professional athletes on mental preparation and training. His doctoral dissertation and research study was with elite Mixed Martial Artists (MMA), titled “Mental Preparation of Elite Athletes: A Qualitative Study.” The athletes that participated in the study have competed in the largest MMA organizations in the world including the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). His current work includes producing free online mental training programs for professional and amateur athletes and the general population via www.MentalTrainingProgram.com