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Self-care pays off. The right habits on diet and exercise are essential. But what are you doing to bolster your mental health? Gregory Scott Brown, M.D., author of The Self-Healing Mind, finds there’s a lot we can do. He’s identified five pillars of self-care, practices that are powerful, evidence-based medicine for the mind.
Gregory Scott Brown, M.D. joins us from Houston, Texas.
Gregory Scott Brown, M.D., is a psychiatrist, a mental health writer, and the author of The Self-Healing Mind: An Essential Five-Step Practice for Overcoming Anxiety and Depression, and Revitalizing Your Life. A regular contributor for Men’s Health and The Washington Post, Dr. Brown also co-hosts Friday Sessions, a popular Instagram Live series about mental health.
Dr. Brown is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He completed a fellowship in integrative medicine at the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine, specialty training in general psychiatry at the University of Texas Dell Medical School, and he received an M.D. from the McGovern Medical School in Houston. Dr. Brown is an alumnus of Rice University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Johns Hopkins University, where he completed a post-baccalaureate premedical program. Prior to his transition to medicine, Dr. Brown studied music at The Juilliard School in New York.
Dr. Brown is a member of the American Psychiatric Association where he serves on the Council on Communications. His commentary has been featured in The New York Times, Men’s Health, and The Washington Post, as well as on The Today Show, Live with Kelly and Mark, and the PBS News Hour.
For More on Gregory Scott Brown, MD
Mentioned in This Podcast Episode
The Washington Post: 4 ways to find and build meaningful connections for mental health
On Mental Health
“…Mental health on the other hand, is the driving force that really dictates how we live our lives. It’s how we interact with each other, how we love the quality of our relationships. It relates to our emotional intelligence. And so I think it’s important that as people think about how they can stay mentally healthy, that they’re also thinking about these other factors that play such a very important role in how we live and act.”
“As a psychiatrist, I prescribe psychiatric medications in my practice every single week, but we can’t ignore the power of self-care. And what I mean by that is, as I outline in the book, things like Sleep, Spirituality, Nutrition, Breath Work, and Moving Our Body, Joe. These are things that all of us have access to. We all breathe 20 to 30,000 breaths every single day on average. We all move our bodies. We can all learn how to tap into the power of meditation, focusing on nutrient dense foods. And so if we’re learning how to live our life in a way that supports not only our physical health but our mental health as well, then I believe we’ll all be a little bit better off. A lot of people are intimidated by this idea of exercise. So Dr. Brown is telling me, I need to get a gym membership, or I need to sign up to run a marathon? That’s great, but that’s not what I’m advocating here when it comes specifically to what we can do to improve mental health. Several years ago, there was a huge study, a meta-analysis in the American Journal of Psychiatry, that actually found that people who move their bodies more had a lower risk for developing depression regardless of geographic region, regardless of age. And so, by movement, I mean even if it’s just walking to the mailbox every day, dancing with your partner in your house, doing some simple stretches in your chair. The more that we move our body, it’s enhancing a protein in the brain called B D N F – brain derived neurotropic factor – which kind of acts, Joe, like fertilizer in the brain and allows our neurotransmitters, those chemicals in our brain that are so important for mental health, to be released and to communicate with each other more efficiently.”
“This is one of the most profound conversations that I have every week with my patients. And I’ll tell you, I love having this conversation because usually when I ask a patient, what do you think about spirituality? The very first thing that naturally comes to mind is religion, right? Some people are religious, some people aren’t religious. But the thing about spirituality as I write in one of the Washington Post articles is that spirituality is all about connection. And for some that might mean connecting with a higher power through prayer, connecting with God. For others, it may be connecting with the people around them, altruism, selfless service, volunteering your time. I think of my grandmother when I was a kid. Every Monday, I would go with her to the soup kitchen and we would serve soup to the homeless community. That can be a form of connection. And even something like meditation, connecting with your inner self. So many people are struggling with this idea of feeling disconnected, that finding connection through spirituality can also be beneficial for mental health as well. I think one of the ways that we can do it is through meditation. And again, Joe, it is one of those things that a lot of people, if they’ve never tried it, are intimidated by it. It’s like, I made it this far. I’ve never meditated. Why should I start now? And I’ll tell you, the first time I tried it, it was a daunting task for me as well. Sitting alone with your thoughts, sometimes that allows you to hear what’s going on in your head even louder, but in time it gets easier. And I would say if you’re just starting off with a meditation practice, start off with 10 minutes. Set a timer on your phone, close the door to pick a room in your house or your apartment, close the door, and just find that space where you’re focusing on your breath, allowing your thoughts to go where they may, and you may find this sense of peace and tranquility that you wouldn’t have found otherwise. So I think that’s a good place to start.”
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About Your Podcast Host
Joe Casey is an executive coach who also helps people design their next life after their primary career and create their version of The Multipurpose Retirement.™ He created his own next chapter after a twenty-six-year career at Merrill Lynch, where he was Senior Vice President and Head of HR for Global Markets & Investment Banking. Today, in addition to his work with clients, Joe hosts The Retirement Wisdom Podcast, which thanks to his guests and loyal listeners, ranks in the top 1 % globally in popularity by Listen Notes. Business Insider has recognized him as one of 23 innovative coaches who are making a difference. He’s the author of Win the Retirement Game: How to Outsmart the 9 Forces Trying to Steal Your Joy.
The views and opinions expressed by guests on The Retirement Wisdom Podcast are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the host, or of Retirement Wisdom, LLC. The Retirement Wisdom Podcast covers the non-financial aspects of retirement. From time to time we may invite guests who discuss other aspects of retirement planning, solely for educational purposes, not advice. Listeners are advised to consult qualified financial and/or medical professionals on those matters.