It sure does seem like the world is about to end with all that is happening for the past year or more. During my podcast interview with Denise Messenger this week, we discussed how many of us have been living in stress overdrive for a good while now. as a result of COVID's wrath and the uncertainty that fills the air. This type of stress can wreak havoc on our physical and mental well being, leaving us damaged.
It is crucial that we all learn how to manage stress.
Hard Times are Nothing New
I spent a number of years with a special centenarian who I wrote about in my recent award-winning memoir, "Love, Life, and Lucille: Lessons Learned from a Centenarian." Lucille, the subject of my memoir, passed away at age 104. I was very fortunate having spent years with her, getting to know her very well. She once described her childhood experience of living during the Great Depression, recalling how she and her family felt as if the the world was ending then.
Well, it didn't end. More than likely it's not ending anytime soon. To be able to not only sustain, but to truly live a joy filled life in the midst of hard times, we all need some strategies. On my guest interview Health Media Now podcast session , I share some important life tweaks that are quite simple but can greatly benefit us. Take a listen!
Transcript: Podcast Session on Health Media Now with Judy Gaman on Stress
Welcome Health Media Now with award-winning author and host Denise Messenger for a lifetime of Health empowerment live by being in the Pink meaning P stands for being persistent. I stands for using your intuition. N stands for networking and K stands for obtaining knowledge, our guests entertained and share cutting edge information they share with you what may have taken years to achieve through experience in their field, become inspired and motivated, reach your full potential with fascinating tips and products received a lifetime of benefits from authors, doctors, practitioners, healthcare providers and learn about exciting new products. You asked for it and we delivered. Now, here's your host Denise Messenger.
Denise: Well, I want to welcome all our listeners today, I think our subject matter is going to be excellent and we all really need to listen to do our guests. We're gonna be talking about stress relief. It seems like the world these days is going upside down. A lot of us don't know what to do. And how in the world do we manage our stress? So we have with us Judy Gaman, is that correct? No, it's Gaman, like backgammon? Oh Gammon. Okay, I like that.
She's the CEO of Executive Medicine of Texas and she's the author of five books including an award-winning one called Love Life and Lucille. So we will be discussing that book, we'll be talking about stress relief, and welcome to our show.
Judy Gaman: Thank you so much for having me on the show and I really appreciate what you do on this show and and how you bring forward all of these people within their fields and and really hone in on particular topics and today's topic, of course, being stress,
Denise: Boy, I know we can all relate, no kidding. So where would you like to start?
Well, well I think we can start with what is stress, what happens to the body when we have stress, and then what are some of the implications of it? And then maybe we can move into how do we manage our stress and and how do we live healthier so these things don't happen. That sounds like a good plan to you?
Judy: Alright, so let's start with what you know. what is stress? Now we all know about the fight or flight system in our our bodies and our brain. Say you're out and you see a bear, you suddenly will have a stress, just a rush of hormones that will tell you Ive got to get out of here and you're able to run faster, able to do things. The body's heart rate goes up, your body temperature goes up. All these things happen. And this is a good and natural response. You want this because it's important for survival.
The problem that we have is now we end up in these constant states of stress. We're in a fight or flight mentality all too often. And when we get that way and we have these chemicals being released within our body and we're having adrenaline rushes and our cortisol levels are going up, then we actually are increasing the inflammation in our body.
And of course inflammation is good when it's there for a reason. Like say you sprain your ankle and your ankle swells and you know, we need that information. But this chronic inflammation that I'm talking about is where you get a a state of inflammation within your body within yourselves. And this is what we now know is the root cause of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, you name it, we now are pointing the finger back to inflammation, chronic inflammation, I'm pretty much all of these diseases, so you can kind of see how this happens, right?
The body is … we're supposed to even flow, we're supposed to have states of peacefulness. And then we're supposed to have times where we get stressed. Stress can motivate you to do things, but we never want to be in a chronic state of stress, a constant state. You don't want to turn on the T. V., you don't want to open your mail, you don't want to have a conversation with somebody that we've kind of gotten to that point in the last few years and especially, recently, where just normal things that should not cause us stress, like going to work or seeing your family members who may not agree with you, these are the things that you used to be able to just handle and blow them off. But now the the heightened amount of stress involved in all of these day to day interactions is just really wrecking havoc on everyone. I
Denise: It really is, it really really is. So let's talk about what in the world do we do?
Judy: Well there's a couple of things and it sounds so elementary. But there's there's some reasons to each of them. One is we have to get enough sleep and we under play the role of sleep in toning down our inflammation in resetting our brain and just resetting our bodies as a whole. We've kind of worn this workaholism as a badge of courage, right? Like I can work more than you can work. I don't I don't need much sleep. I run on four. I mean you hear these things all the time out of patients and you're just like, no, no, you really do need sleep. So it's a matter of getting to bed but it's also a matter and probably even more importantly of how much sleep you get the quality of that sleep.
So we're doing things like we're glued to our phones and our televisions and our computers and we're letting this blue light in and we're letting this stress and then we lay down like okay bodies time to go to sleep. Well the body doesn't work that way. Yeah, you need to have a routine when it's time to go to sleep. Whether that's a warm bath or it's journaling. I'm very big proponent of journaling. We tell all of our patients at Executive Medicine of Texas that they should be journaling to reduce stress. And you know, if you have these kind of routines, then it it triggers the body, it triggers in the brain to say, okay, now we're shutting down for the night. And another thing on the the screens is we tell people get off your screens at least 2 to 3 hours before you go into bed and don't make your phone, the last thing you look at, or the first when you go to bed or the first thing that you look at when you wake up big important rule.
Denise: That's a tough ask.
Judy: It is a tough ask, but if you could get used to it and you could tell yourself my last moments and my first moments are not going to be dictated by my phone. You've won a big battle you really have.
Denise: Now I get that somehow or another, our brains have become wired into these things.
Judy: Well, that's exactly what they wanted, right? I mean, let's be honest, you know, we were like to have a lot of dogs when the latest iPhone comes out, you know, they like that we've become interdependent on these devices and I'm just as guilty as the next person because it controls our calendar and controls our life. I mean, I couldn't even tell you by memory, all my Children's cell phone numbers, because they're all just in my phone now, granted I have 10 Children, so that the feet within itself. But for you know, it used to be, we memorized everybody's phone number, we can tell you, you know, the pharmacy phone number, and all our friends and all these things that were dependent so much now on these electronics that I actually have a fear that if we had these electronics shut off, for some reason we be so lost that we we wouldn't have our contacts, we wouldn't have all of our information, We wouldn't know what her calendar is. Um something I need to have.
Denise: Yeah, I have a little secret. Uh sometimes when I can't get to sleep and I have too much on my mind. What I do is, I decide to memorize my most important contacts, their phone.
Judy: Brilliant. That is a great thing to do. So there I am in bed and I just go over and over and over those those phone numbers and the people and those phone numbers and and now it's pretty cool because if I can't find my phone and I need to telephone somebody, you know, I have a regular phone, I know the number I'm so proud of myself. W
Judy: Well, and you're doing so many good things, not only are you, you know, having an emergency preparedness, but you're activating the part of your brain that is going to help keep you young and keep you healthy. I don't know if you've read my memoir, "Love life and Lucille". Lucille died just shy of 104th birthday. And up until the time she died, she could rattle off everybody's phone number. She had her thing, She remembered everybody's phone number as she didn't have a smartphone, so probably why she needed to memorize it all. She did, she had them all memorized and she's kind of play them out and say ok, test me, you know, I'd give her somebody she's done with the phone number was she just want to make sure your brain is working.
So what you're doing is is such a good thing. We should all be doing something like that. Oh I just one day, I just realized what we were just talking about, I have my phone, how am I gonna get a hold of anybody? There is a really huge emergency, I have to run out of the building or run out of the house, I don't have my phone, What am I gonna do? There you go now? You know what you can do? Well, you know here's the other thing too, you think about if you don't have your phone, but you hear all the time of people, their purse gets stolen or something happens in in preparedness and just you don't ever want to go through that stress.
Denise: That's extreme stress, but you should have a photocopy of all of the things that are in your wallet and those, you know, you keep it somewhere in private. So if in the event you were to lose your purse, your purses stolen, you can immediately call you know your credit cards and all of that, you have access to all of those numbers.
Judy: And that's one thing even doing that, just the act of being prepared will take off stress. You didn't even know you had because it's one less thing that that stuff in in your brain, I like to you know when we're talking to patients and we're talking um on our show, Stay Young America!, we talk a lot about the brain and bandwidth and there's only so much mental bandwidth that we have each day. So we have to decide how we're gonna spend that and if we worry or we're stressed, it takes up an extreme amount of bandwidth.
Think about your computer, right? You maybe have different processes open, say you just have your email open and you maybe you're on one or two other sites, you got a word document open, okay, your computer can handle that, but the second you open up, you know like photo shop or you open up a high functioning program that takes up more memory and takes up more space, everything slows down, this is exactly what happens to the brain, you know we can tackle all these little things but when we get into something stressful um or big, it's going to slow the brain down. The problem is we don't slow down, We have ourselves overbooked, over scheduled overcommitted. And when we talk about stress reduction, and the first thing you need to do is look at your calendar and look at the things that you're involved in and say does this serve me?
And is it serving somebody else or is it just busy work because a lot of times 20 to 30% of our calendar and our what we're doing is what we call busy work. We're just doing it. Maybe we're doing it because we've always done it, maybe we're doing it because we feel we need to do it. We haven't really examined that. Do I need to do this? Or maybe it's say it's even a club you've been in for a while but you say you know, I've been in this club 56 years, maybe it's run its course, maybe it's time for me to do something new or just even take a six month break or a little hiatus to breathe and have a literal time to yourself.
Denise: Mm hmm Those are excellent suggestions. They really are. So go ahead, go ahead.
Judy: Well, I was just gonna ask you what what do you think is like something in your life that I know I'm putting you on the spot, but when you look at your calendar is there's something that you can say, hmm maybe I could do without this, you know, maybe there's something that you do in your daily routine just because that's the way it's always been done and maybe now you could think I could maybe do without that.
Denise: I would say probably on a weekly basis. I take a look at my calendar and if it's if I just have way too much going on, I'll go and reschedule things.
Judy: Good for you, good for you. That is such a good thing to do and you don't feel bad about it right? You know, you know I don't count priority. I mean obviously there are certain things that a priority that you just, you know, you can't but a lot of times you know with the social stuff you can you know certainly and no one's gonna fault you if you just say you know I think over scheduled myself can and I want to give you my full this is how you do it right, You say I want to be able to give you my full attention, I wanted to have a good time when we visit can can we just bump this out a week?
I've yet to have somebody say no, no, I'd rather have you stress out and you know between between busy schedule? No no, no you to keep it. Nobody's ever said that so nobody's ever been upset either. I was like yeah sure and you know half the time I'd say people say gosh I'm glad you said that because I looked at my schedule and I actually I'm overbooked too, so we're not alone in this. So a lot of people have this same issue.
Denise: Yeah, absolutely. So what else can we do to reduce our stress?
Judy: Oh, I think we need to look at our nutrition, you know, what are the grocery store must have and one of the grocery store must have not. And really think about, you know, what, what are we putting in our mouths because everything that we're putting in our mouths affecting us, greatly affected on the cellular level. And if you are a proponent, if your listeners are proponents of artificial sweeteners, I would say that's the absolute number one thing they need to cut out. There's not a neurologist in town that would see a patient and tell them it's ok to have artificial sweeteners.
And if you look around the world, the United States was one of the only places where aspartame was approved and it went through the FDA three times and the only way they got it approved as they fired one of the board members and brought in somebody who would approve it. So we we know it's a neurotoxin yet it's in a lot of the drinks, people drink, it's in a lot of the food, sometimes it's actually in medications, believe it or not, and toothpaste and mouthwash and so we have to be really mindful of of reading labels and you know, what am I taking in, so artificial sweeteners, hands down, you know, if you just if you just have to have some kind of sweetener honey or stevia are probably your best bets um raw stevia. You don't want a lot of process stuff but stay away from that.
I call them the pinks and the blues, you know, the they never, you know, they put it. I think it's funny is they put pink and baby blue on the packets because they want them to look so innocent and they're not they they should be in like red and black, you know, don't don't eat those. So uh but yeah if you, first of all get rid of those and then make sure that you're you're doing 5 to 75 to seven fruits and vegetables. And it doesn't mean, you know, 5 to 7 fruits. Um but a mixture of fruits and vegetables, berries, these are good, you know, they're always good for stress reduction because they help clear out the free radicals, the blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, the the more color in your diet, the more nutrient rich it is.
So I like to say that you should eat the rainbow and then you know, get rid of things like packaging, processed foods, these carbs can actually cause you stress believe it or not the things that we think, oh I'm gonna eat this because it gives me comfort they backfire, you may feel good for a little bit, but in the end you're gonna feel worse. So you think you're feeding, you know, the the whatever part of your soul that needs the high fat, high sugar, high whatever. But then afterwards your you're worse off than you would have been. Sometimes it's a matter of training in the palette. So can you have these things every once in a while? But you don't want to have them as a as a response to stress and you don't want to have them as part of your regular diet.
Denise: Well then we can talk about exercise.
Judy: Exercise is huge, very important. And one of the things that people may not realize is how much they're sitting, sitting is the new smoking as we've all heard. But it's actually true. The body in motion will stay in motion when we stop actually getting out there and moving around. It doesn't mean you need to do P 90 x. Right? As a matter of fact we don't usually recommend these kind of programs because that's what keeps the orthodox in business but just not getting anything funny.
You know, it's it's the brisk walking uh it's stretching, Pilates is good, yoga is good. Um Just but just just a walking alone, get your 10,000 steps a day. I have a a thing that I started when I turned 50 and it was 10,000 by 10 a.m. 10-K by 10 a.m. So try to get 10,000 steps before 10 a.m. And sometimes when I do that, I can get like 20,000 steps in in a day, and I don't even notice it when I started, I thought I'm gonna die, you know, I got like 14,000 steps. I was like, I got 14,000 steps, I think I'm gonna have to sleep all day tomorrow. I can't believe that my feet are killing me. But now I go only did 14 now I want to do 20 because I realized I can get to 20 and above 20 and I'm still alive. So uh it's amazing when you kind of raise the bar on yourself, what you're capable of.
Denise: Yeah, that's a lot of steps though. 10,000 steps by 10 in the morning. What are you up at six?
Judy: I do I yeah, actually that's the key. You've got to get out and I'm in Texas, so you've got to get out early. So I'm fortunate that when I walk through the park, there's a gym. So I walked through the park, go to the gym, do my laps through the machines, walk back and boom, the Fitbit on my waist buzzes and I have this moment of yes, I hit 10,000, you know, on the way I feel like the rest of the day goes well.
Denise: Yeah, that's really good. That's really good. So let's talk about um your book what is done? So did say what now why did you why did I write it? Thank you. Thank you for the clarification.
Judy: Sure. "Love, Life, and Lucille" is a memoir and, actually, how it came about was, I was working on a book with two physicians at the practice called , "Age to Perfection, How to Thrive to 100 Happy, Healthy and Wise", and I was digging through all of this data and studying the blue Zones and interviewing people and and then one day it just hit me, why don't I just find people that are 100 years old and talk to them and ask them how they got there and it was just like one of those moments where it was like, duh, you know, going to kneel source.
And so um I had a writing assistant who I put her on this task of finding these sentence Arians. And when she, when she did, she found Lucille is one of them, there were several and they were all fabulous, but um Lucille was just amazing. I mean she was like old Hollywood style and she was so much fun and I was trapped in this life of Workaholism like you third generation workaholic didn't even realize how crazy I had allowed it to be.
And when I met Lucille, she was in an independent living center and you know her she had a full calendar being playing like duplicate bridge and all these things. So but she was kind of missing this part in her life that she felt like she could be doing more, she should be doing more, she had so much life left in her, even at 100 and so when we met my life slow down and had a lot more meaning because she just instilled so much wisdom in me. And then her life kind of sped up because I had interviewed her for that book when I went on a book tour. Lucille went with me, I said, you know, you think you can go out with me. Good morning, good morning. Uh Texas wanted to have a son, She was like, oh yeah, I mean she was all about it right before I know it, you know, the the girl's got these glasses and she's got these outfits and she's, you know, walked into one stationed, she's like the talent has arrived and I'm like, who are you? Oh my gosh she came to life in this role of of rediscovering herself at 100 and uh it was just one and it was wonderful. Oh yeah, it was running.
She was, she was so fast on her feet and just yes, she was just amazing and her memory was incredible. And in the book, Love, Life, and Lucille, I I go through these these outings we have in this, you know, wisdom she imparted in these stories and kind of it's a little bit about about my life in her life and really behind the scenes look at at life in general, One thing that that really stuck out to me and I think a lot of people that have read this nationally and internationally has have picked up on is that it doesn't matter where you grew up, your social economic background, you race, your generation, you grew up and there are some things in life that are just automatic, we, their experiences that we will all have will know our first, you know, our first love, we'll have our first love, we'll have a loss of some sort will have hopes and we'll have dreams and we'll have hopes and dreams that were crashed.
And there's the human experience is just so beautiful and just being able to experience and learn from someone who was 100 and she and I were attached to the hip until she died just shy of 104th birthday, but those almost four years were just incredible. I mean, I'm well educated, but I think I got a a much better education, just hanging out with with someone else who shared their life, their experiences, you know, I I like to say this when people are concerned right now about whatever is going on politically or whatever, the things that are happening around us that are causing all this stress.
She once said to me, she said, you know Judy, when I was in a young girl, there was all this this fear and anger and frustration because it was a Great Depression. She came over here in the Great Depression. And she was a nursing student then, and she said, I saw businessmen in the street and they were and they were shoveling because they would take any job. She said the whole world seemed like it was over and then it wasn't, she said, and then we'd have a president that people didn't like and things would be going bad and there will be a, you know, an arms race, and there'll be a missile crisis. She named all these things, right.
She helped me put things in perspective that every generation every 10 years or so we think it's the end of the world, we think everything is going to hell in a handbasket and and you know, things are all terrible and then they're not so having that perspective that she had lived 100 years plus on this earth and seen it, the ebbs and flow of life. Um it really helps you put it back and say, okay, things, maybe really bad or rough or horrible right now, but we're resilient and we will get through this.
Denise: Hmm what did she attribute her long life too?
Judy: Well, you know, there's a it's interesting because there's when I interviewed the people over 100 there were some standard answers and um you know, they, they all exercise things we talked about, right, they all sleep well, faith was a big one and they weren't all the same religion. Um but they all mentioned faith um in in one aspect or another, and just that they didn't feel they had to be in charge of everything I think was um a big part of all of the people I interviewed and family was was important. Social life was huge.
All these people have a social life. Uh That was probably the biggest, but there was one thing and I sentence the last page of the book, I don't want to give it away, but I will just say this, that there was one thing that Lucille taught me the first day that I met her and that proved to be the most important thing to living a long and healthy life and I didn't appreciate it that day, but when you read the book, you'll know why and um probably with a tear you'll understand you'll be able to look at your own life and go Yeah, that is, that is the most important thing.