Today on The Clean Body Podcast, host Lauren Kelly welcomes the creators of The Whole Therapist to the show to discuss holistic mental therapy that address a humans mind, body, and soul. During the episode, you'll learn:
About Abby, The Whole Therapist
Abby obtained her Masters in Social Work in 2013. Prior to getting her graduate degree, she had experience working as an advocate at a domestic violence shelter, supporting survivors at a sexual assault healing program, and providing therapy at a teen girls’ group home. Upon graduating Abby joined a non-profit as a family therapist doing intensive in-home family and individual therapy in adoption preservation. She moved to the Denver area in 2016 and began her private practice. Abby works with children ages 3+, teen girls, and adult women survivors of trauma. Her areas of specialization include adoptees and their families, parenting gifted and 2e children, and survivors of sexual abuse. Abby is a bicultural therapist and is specifically passionate about providing care to the Latinx community.
About Kellee, The Whole Therapist
Kellee obtained her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2014. While obtaining her master’s degree Kellee was working as a client advocate at a Domestic Violence Shelter in Arizona, and then transitioned to work in-home as a Family Support Specialist with Preservation and Reunification cases. After getting her master’s degree Kellee started working at a co-occurring substance abuse outpatient and inpatient facility. In 2016 Kellee moved to Colorado where she started working at a local Community Mental Health Agency. Kellee worked at the agency in the Early Childhood Department seeing children 2 to 8, pregnant moms, and moms struggling with postpartum depression/anxiety.
Contact and Follow The Whole Therapist
For more on Lauren Kelly and The Clean Body Project:
Most of our DNA is not going to change once we're born, but behavior memories, and then something called neurons. Those are the most malleable. And so for instance, speaking of being at home and COVID, you could have DNA, that's primed to be turned on for some type of mental health struggle, whether that's addiction, depression, anxiety, and if you're kind of living your life and like eating well and things feel pretty balanced, it may not turn on. But what we've seen is COVID has a lot of out of stress in a short amount of time, and that has turned people's genes on. And since now we've, we're seeing more mental health crisis because all of a sudden people that didn't have mental health struggles or addiction, or like where did they. Welcome to the clean body podcast? I'm Lauren Kelly, a certified nutrition therapist, and soon to be specialized holistic cancer coach with a certification in cancer biology from UC Berkeley. I am so grateful that you're here. This podcast introduces you to the souls and brains behind some of the cleanest food beverage and lifestyle products on the market, because what you put on in and around your body matters from cookies, bread, and mushroom superfoods to adaptogenic lozenges, clean medicines, organic mattresses, and fluoride-free toothpaste. We'll explore how the brands came to be how scientific studies drove decisions about ingredients and materials. And most importantly, how the products support all the physical and mental microscopic miracles that occur in your body every minute of every day. Thank you for being here. Let's get this started. Welcome back to the clean body podcast. I'm your host Lauren Kelly today's episode is a bonus episode. This was recorded a couple of weeks ago for a live Q and a that streamed on YouTube with Kelly and Abby from the whole therapist. They are both therapists practicing through a holistic lens. And in the episode we talk about epigenetics. We completely define epigenetics during the episode, but just to give you a heads up, epigenetics is the science of how our genes are expressed. We are born with tens of thousands of genes in our human bodies. It's actually estimated that we have 30,000 genes, but not all of these genes are expressed or activated all at the same time. You might have genes for obesity or diabetes or cancer, but just because you have that gene doesn't mean that that gene will be turned on like a light switch and that disease will manifest in your body. A lot of the time it's based in environmental factors. In fact, it's believed that 70 to 90% of diseases and chronic conditions are probably due to differences in environments. So that's your lifestyle. That's how much and anxiety and insomnia and fatigue you experienced. That's what you put in your body, on your body and around your body. So this conversation, we dig into the science of epigenetics and really defining that for you and explaining what it means and why it matters. We talk about how grief and shame and guilt can pass down through generations through your genes. So some conditions you experienced could have actually been passed down from your ancestors. And we also talk about ways of overcoming guilt and shame and living the most vibrant life. So that only the genes you want to be expressed are turned on. I hope you enjoy this conversation. Mental health is just as important as everything else when it comes to having a clean body, being holistically healthy is really mind, body and soul. So let's just get right into this episode. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at tele stick Lauren Kelly or at the clean body podcast. And I have links to both Kelly and Abby and the whole therapists, Instagram pages, and contact information in the show notes. If you like this episode, be sure to review subscribe, send it to a friend. I appreciate you. Let's jump in Kelly and Abby, thank you so much for streaming live with me for a bonus episode of the clean body podcast. We are live on YouTube and I'm really excited to dig in to just everything you guys do, because you're not only therapists, but you have really unique holistic approaches to your practices. But before we get started, hello. Hi, how are you? Hello. Thank you for having a son. My heart is going fast already. We're both excited. I've got my tea to ground me a little bit, um, and ready to dig into. Okay. I love that. Well, to get started a little bit, I would love to just learn about both of you and your unique paths and journeys to becoming therapists. Um, and then we'll kind of dig into your unique approach before we get into epigenetics and neuroscience and all the crazy things we want to talk about today, but Kelly, do you want to share your story first about how you got to where you are? Yeah, that sounds good. I actually started out as a broadcast journalist major. Uh, and then I got in front of a camera and froze and was like, I cannot do this. So, um, I liked my like psych 1 0 1 class and I thought that therapy was about giving advice and I was like, I'm really good at giving people advice. So I think I, undergrad was like family and human development. And then, um, went for a master's degree in marriage and family therapy. And it was an ethics course that I took in my master's program, like the first semester where it was very clear that therapists do not give advice. Um, and that was nice. I was like, actually, I really love this and kind of geeked out over the ethics book. Um, and I think along the way, like I've transitioned and evolved into, um, you know, different ways of practicing. I've worked with like a variety of different populations. Um, but right now I've kind of landed in, um, working with like complex trauma, um, and then working with families and children. That's. Great, please. Excuse it. Um, if you hear my dogs barking in the background, my mom is with us right now and just getting home and they're very excited. This is a very exciting moment in their life, but Abby, do you want to share your story and how you got to where? Yeah, sure. It's funny because I also started as a journalist major and switched to social work. A lot of talkers here or want to be. Yeah. And I thought about, um, like medicine physician, but I realized they don't talk at all. And so that was a deal breaker for me. So, um, and I think, uh, my grandma like started and the headstart where I grew up in Illinois and opened a clinic called [inaudible], which transferred, which translates to the open door in English. And so I think , um, was the motivator and working with marginalized populations. So I got my master's in social work. Um, never thought I would be in private practice, but then I started having , um, as a mama to be in the private practice world. So I also also specialize in , um, with kids, teen girls and women. That's. Great. That's important work that I think, you know, has too much of a stigma around it. Um, but that's why there's mental health awareness month, um, which we'll talk to her about, but I am curious, so obviously I was promoting this live stream as the role of epigenetics and, um, mental and physical health. And so first of all, before we really dig in, I would love for you both to share how you explain epigenetics to your clients or even other therapists that you've talked to, because I think it's a complex topic and I even tried to explain it on my Instagram stories this morning and I'm not so sure I did such a good job. So let's see how you guys. All right, Abby, are you okay to start with it? Yeah, sure. You know, and we do some of this in our trainings or in sessions. I think I can speak for both of us Kelly, that we're pretty experiential. So even right now, if you're listening live or if you're listening to this later, um, and if you're not driving, then like, look at both of your hands. Lot of people look at their hands and kind of study them and then we'll have them look at their arms and we'll start to talk about how there's 50 trillion cells in your body. And each cell has a job, um, and like a landscape and in every cell DNA and it's wound very, very tightly. And if we unwound it and stacked all 50 trillion end to end, it would go to the sun and back six times. And so that's our that's DNA genetics, right? We all, as humans have the same DNA, um, and epigenetics is what's on top of. And so it's a phenotype. It's what makes me look different than Kelly. We don't look identical, identical because of how the gene is expressed. And that's like these little tags that are on top of that tightly wound kind of string of DNA. And that's usually, sometimes we'll incorporate some art and mindfulness, but in like a really quick nutshell, epigenetics is the expression of what makes you, you and what makes each cell have its own specific landscape and work together. Does that sound right? Kelly? You can add whatever. Yeah. I love that. I'm getting into the, one of those trances where in listening to you talk, I think on just adding more, like it just think it's really beautiful and there's like some magic with epigenetics and DNA. And so I always add a numbers of within all of those cells, they all have DNA and there's six feet of DNA within each of those cells. So you've got 50 trillion cells and then there's six feet of DNA in every single one of those cells. Um, and then thinking about them as they all have a job, um, you know, it actually, I know we talked about, we may not need to, but I think the orchestra is a really great way to like explain it. I think we can explain it to both clients and, um, just like lay people, therapists. Yeah. Yeah. That's a good, it's a good analogy. Do you want to start that Kelly or I also don't want to take over, I want to hear this. Okay, great. I can, if you just talk a little bit about the conductor first and I can move on from the conductor, it seems like, um, I do usually do it backwards. Like this end result of a symphony is what we would call like the epigenetic phenotype. And so if we go backwards, well, what makes us symphony? And so like the conductor or the sheet music is like this epigenetic code. It's like the notes. And then you have the conductor, which is like telling the, the musicians how to play. It's telling the genes, musicians would be like the genes. And th and they're playing this all the same sheet music, um, and the conductor tells them how to play it. And so you put all of that together, um, and you have this symphony. And so how one person plays, how one orchestra would play might be different than another, or how like the tubas plays different than the flutes. And so there's lots of variances, but it's the same sheet music. It's the same genes of being human, but that conductor will tell them how to play and how long to pause and how loud to be. So the symphony is different and that's kind of like epigenetics is the, and I think that's a poetic way to explain it too. It's like the symphony of, of how, of being of how we are. Yeah. Yeah. We got really into the analogies. I think in one episode we went into like baking and the chef is kind of the person that, um, turns on things or adds things or takes things out, building a house. I was going to say, there's so many analogies, right? So like, I was going to say, building a house, the blueprints for the house are your genes. The contractor is epigenetics because the contractor can, has the power to change those genes and evolve them into something else. Should he wish? And even something like a script, you know, like the same actors get handed the same script, but how that character comes to life changes based on their decisions. And so it's like, they're the conductor, they're the one that's controlling the expression of these words on a paper. So just to bring that back around, yes, genes are this thing that you are born with. And then epigenetics is the way that they're actually what their activity ends up being. So hopefully that all makes sense. If you're watching, I see you watching, I can see how many people are watching and I see questions coming in. If you have them, if that doesn't make sense, feel free to send in your questions and we'll try to summarize it even more. But I started learning about epigenetics. When I went to school for nutrition, I had never heard about epigenetics before, and I became fascinated. And it makes all the sense in the world. Food is information, the way you live your life is information. Your hormones are information like cortisol, which is increased by stress. And all of these things impact the expression of your genes. So I'm curious how you both came to find genetics and more of the, um, mental, emotional therapy realm rather than the nutrition realm, because I've gone to therapy, uh, quite a few times, and I've never had a therapist introduced epigenetics to me. Well, I think, um, that, um, fits with what Abby and I know about the field. Um, we know that epigenetics is starting to enter our field. Um, but we know that even within our field, it's not talked about a lot. Um, so I finished grad school in 2014, I think, and had not heard of the word epigenics at that time. And then I believe a colleague had used the word at some point. Um, and I started to become curious about it, did some of my own research. And then there is what's called an interpersonal neurobiologists. His name is Dr. Dan Siegel. And he has kind of turned science, um, he's translated science to therapists. Um, and I remember going to a conference of his, and he said like, imagine that you're a lawyer and you go to law school and they've taught you nothing about law. I said, we're therapists. And we're working with people's brains. Like, we need to know about that. And that's not being taught at that time, at least. Um, and then over time, I think once Abby and I got connected and we have really similar mentors, um, there's a woman named Bonnie badnock and she, um, really, I think introduced epigenics at a level for me that like became really intriguing and, um, reading her books and just continuing to do more research. I think you said something really powerful. There is when you are a therapist and you're working with a client, you have to understand how their brains are working. And oftentimes when people have anxiety or depression, they take a lot of shame and guilt in that. And they're like, what is wrong with me? But there are so many cases in situations where it's not something wrong with you. It's, you know, chemical in your body or it's, it's an imbalance in your life. That's creating these emotions that are manifesting as what we've labeled depression or anxiety. So can you talk a little bit about that epigenetic expression that leads to, um, chronic conditions and mental conditions that people come see you for and how you treat them? Like, how do you explain that and how do you bring them through this journey to, I guess, improve their epigenetic health in some way to help them battle? Um, some of the things that they're experience. Yeah. Abby, are you okay if I go? Yeah, please. Yeah. Uh, I'm so glad that you said this part about, like, they believe there's something wrong with them. Uh, both Abby and I, and through our mentors, like really hold frequently, there is nothing wrong with you. And what we know about epigenetics, what we know about interpersonal neurobiology is that does is there to protect us. We're a species that wants to survive. So anything that's happening for you, it's there to help you survive. Um, and so examples that I will give are, for instance, a woman who was in the Holocaust and pregnant at the time, that data is being given to the baby, and it's letting the baby know when you come out, there's not going to be a lot of food. So you're going to need to hold fat. Um, it's also going to say the world's not safe. And so you're going to need to be on edge. Well, then the woman survived the Holocaust and this baby is born. And there actually is a lot of food. And the world is safe. Well happens is no matter what this kid, which eventually becomes an adult does as far as eating, they keep they're overweight and they don't know why. And there must be something I can do. There's something wrong with me. But inside the womb, it was like, no, you need to store fat to survive because we know what the environment's going to be like out there. And then you also get these diagnoses, anxiety, ADHD, because in the womb, it programmed the DNA and the, and these epigenetic factors to say like, you need to be on edge and alert. Those are. Already turned on. There's not like you don't come into this world and you need to feel a lot of stress or ate a lot of crap in order for them to be turned on. They're already turned on. When you come out of the woman, you enter this world and you have no other knowledge of what is going on around you. Yeah. Yeah. Would you add something to that, Abby? I don't, I don't think so. I mean, Kelly and I talk a lot about like, it's this ancient wisdom and that might be language that Bonnie badnock uses in her book too. Or, um, our mentors are so imprinted on our minds also, as we talk about this, but it's like that ancient wisdom of what, what was survival. Um, it can get in our way now, if there was something eight generations ago that was adaptive, you know, and Robin global we'll talk about, there's no such thing as maladaptive. There's not, it's all wisdom. The cell doesn't know how else to be and why would it? And so I think that bringing in that self-compassion and mindfulness, it's truly the antidote to shame. And then when we think of these like chronic, you know, depression, anxiety that runs this intergenerational toxic stress and trauma, the unwinding of it is like bringing some awareness, um, and even gratitude to the things that helped our bodies and our being survive. And I really believe that that does alter the biochemistry over time. If you have a clinician that can enter into introduce all of these concepts with that thread of self-compassion, um, people are changed by it, which is that framework of interpersonal neurobiology. Well, man, you just had so many things that I want to dig into, but before I launch into those, I do want to paint a picture and it was a picture I even looked at this morning that I just think is really powerful. And we're talking about not only your genes, but the way your genes are expressed are passed down through generations, right? And so for everyone listening, you can picture it as a woman is pregnant. And however, her genes are being expressed is sending information to the fetus that is being developed in her womb. But that fetus also has reproductive organs that are developing. And so that is impacting also the reproductive organs of that fetus. So that's three generations just right. They're all being impacted by the way, you are expressing your genes, whether it be through stress or a traumatic event, or even just like running around and never taking time for yourself. And, you know, getting in with your partner, having your dogs wake you up seven times a night, like mind you, all of those things can create this kind of toxic environment in your body. And you can pass that along to your baby who can also pass it along to their baby. So it's just this major ripple effect. Um, and Abby, you talked about, sometimes people are born with shame. I have a best friend who, uh, she went through a lot of therapy and did a lot of self work because she believed shame was passed down in her genes and she needed to rid herself of the shame that was embedded in them from the moment she entered this earth. I think that's a really wild statement for people to say before I started this journey, I'll admit, I thought she was a little crazy. So let's talk about that a little bit at how can people really be born into this world, having no experience at all and already have shame and guilt and other emotions that maybe they don't want to have and how can they pinpoint, like maybe I was born this way and I need to do extra work. You know, it's not just environmental. It's like ingrained in me. You know what? I think we've even talked to us on our podcast where we're not sure where the information comes from, but that we have both read somewhere that babies are indeed born with, um, what we call negative cognitions. I'm not good enough. I'm not lovable. I'm not safe. I don't know still where that comes from as far as the information when we've read that. But what we do know is, um, there's a book called the body, keeps the score by a vessel, Vanda cold, and our body remembers things. And our cell also remember things that's, what's called like implicit data. Explicit data is when, like we can like consciously recall something. So, you know, Lauren, do you remember last year, his birthday? And you might have an image that comes up and then I might say, Hey Lauren, do you remember your first birthday? And you're not going to have an image that comes up, but your body actually does remember what happened on your first birthday? And so when you've got the fetus in the womb and this mother is holding these cognitions, it is moving that physiology around the fetus. And so they, their body kind of holds that message. And then once we get to having words or explicit memory, that's when it turns into like, oh, this is shame. That's what this feels like. This is shame. But the feeling came first before the words, I think that the, the instructions have already been there even before, even if it was like the fetuses, even if it was four generations back, right. That image of like the eggs inside the fetus. Like, so it, it goes back 14 generations, at least research says. And so we won't know. I mean, that's over 400 years and I don't know that far back in either side of my family. Right. So we might not ever get to know like, oh, but my great, great, great grandpa. This it's like, well, we might not know, but, but we can still validate. We carry shame inherently for a wise reason. Something happened back then, and now we get to heal it in relationship with someone else and pass something different down. Like healing is also transferred and resilience is transferred. That idea of it going 14 generations back while you're right. Strength and resilience and courage When you first said that, I was like, oh dear God. Like, I feel like I'm completely lacking power then. Like, I don't have control over the situation and what was passed to me. And I like, how do you face it? How do you figure out what is going on in your life? How do you then face it? And how do you get control of it so that you don't feel like you're out of control in your own life? I think something that brings in some hope is that basically what, when Abby was talking about epigenetics and it being on top of the DNA, they're called tags and there are lots of different kinds of tags. And what happens is, is one tag on your DNA is not gonna make a difference, but, um, your DNA mutates and splits off and then creates new DNA, right? Splits new DNA. So as that tag is on the DNA and it splits and then creates new DNA, that tag is now copied onto the new one. And then that's going to split off and it's copied onto the new one. So while it goes back 14 generations, it could have just been one tag. Um, the didn't get split off. Now, the things that are present for you, those are the things that we want to start building awareness around. And, and, and thinking about like, this could have been something that, um, was brought 14 generations back. I think we can get into overthinking. Like, what am I missing here? We might not be missing anything. Yeah. I think it can be so disempowering. Like you said, Lauren, and then always being connected to hope is key for healing as humans, certainly as therapists, probably as a nutritionist too, like to just continue to work and face the darkness and trauma, whether it's in ourselves or alongside others. Um, and in therapy we attend to what's here right now, right now. Not when you were in the car, not when you're going to the grocery store after the session, but like right now, and like bringing attention to while my belly's tight, okay, we're going to bring supportive breath to that. So I think that we get to like attend to what's here now, relationally and the nervous system is the most plastic. So for mental health, there's a lot of hope like shame is stored probably everywhere, but when it comes to mental health, our, our brain is a cultural Oregon. It's shaped around experiences and we're having those every moment and we're taking in so much information. So it gets to restructure and rewire all the time, not just in therapy, but as therapists, we want to like really seize that hour to help clients. Now I'm holding you, I'm with you. I'm going to hold the hope if they don't have it. I think they can feel that even if I don't say it. I think that's a really good transition. So we've talked a lot about hereditary epigenetics and how it can be passed down from person to person, but you can also have, um, positive or negative epigenetic expression from your everyday life. And you can improve your epigenetic expression through your everyday life, or you can impact it in a negative way that you don't want. And that is through diet, exercise, your emotional health stress. Um, so, you know, from a nutrition standpoint, if you are eating a standard American diet, which the acronym for that is sad. Um, and I think I loved your face, Kelly. I know it's sad. I didn't make it up. That is the legit term. Um, but it's high in refined carbs and refined sugars. You are putting a lot of stress on your body and epigenetically speaking, you're increasing your risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, obesity, heart disease, and all of those risks. All of those lights switch switches are being turned on because of what you're consuming. Food is information. And so yourselves are taking that energy, using that information. And they're being told to turn on in a certain way. They don't think they're doing anything wrong, but it's going to manifest as a chronic condition that is not going to improve your quality of life. So let's talk from more, um, an emotional, mental, you know, active every day aspect, how, how we live our lifestyles, um, and in this, on the go, especially since we've been stacking, COVID how that impacts our epigenetics and the expression of our genes. Yeah, well, I think so we're all born relatively with most of our DNA is not going to change once we're born, but behavior memories, and then something called neurons. Those are the most malleable. And so for instance, speaking of being at home and COVID, you're, you could have DNA, that's primed to be turned on for some type of mental health struggle. Um, you know, whether that's addiction, depression, anxiety, and if you're kind of living your life and like eating well and things feel pretty balanced, it may not turn on. But what we've seen is COVID has a lot of amount of stress in a short amount of time, and that has turned people's genes on. And since now, we've, we're seeing more mental health crisis because all of a sudden people that didn't have mental health struggles or addiction are like, where did this come from? Does the aloneness? So I think the like COVID is sadly such a present, even ongoing example, the aloneness and we're dealing with something alone. It gets embedded as trauma in our nervous system. It doesn't have to be what we think of as like a big T trauma. It's the lack of someone witnessing something stressful to us. It gets stored differently. And when that happens over time for 14 plus months, um, those genes for like survival are going to be turned on whether that's like binge eating or addiction or to cope with that, um, threat to the nervous system of aloneness. And so we've seen a huge spike in depression, anxiety, and all those things. Um, I love on a more like hopeful note then I really love Rick Hansen's research around gratitude. Um, it's the quickest way to come back into what we call regulation. So the neuroscience proves the fastest way to come back into like all is well enough in this moment is gratitude. Um, and when we are in regulation, our neurons are operating in a certain way. Our body is responding to that and our nervous system and our whole self is epigenetically different when we're practicing gratitude or mindfulness or community. Um, that's why we've told clients, like, we'll do some yoga classes online virtually, so you're alone in your house, but there's a connectedness, um, or do a gratitude journal five minutes because research supports that it's not just like this therapist talk, right? Everyone says this. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. When I'm also thinking about back to our like orchestra symphony analogy is if you have the symphony and it's all playing together and it's like this well-oiled machine, and then you have this one flute that decides to be like, like everybody really wants to symphony to go well in front of the audience. And so the rest of the symphony might organize itself around that flute so that it can still feel like it's in, um, I don't know, in congruence with each other. Um, and so that might not have been what they were planning on doing, but to kind of survive the night of the performance, they're going to like readjust to do that. I love the direction this is going, right, because we don't want this to be a downer conversation like, oh, well you were born with a hand, so good luck. Um, it's not that at all, you can add like Abby, you were saying, you can absolutely change your epigenetic expression from a nutrition standpoint, it's putting nutrient dense foods into your body. So your body is getting positive. Information is able to heal. Whatever is hurting or is lacking, or is deficient in your body. So I'll just name those really fast for people who are listening and curious. There's four pillars of foods that have been passed through cultures through centuries that help compound on what is called genetic wealth. And that is building of the positive epigenetic expression. The first one is, um, meat with the bone in keeping that intact, that bone, that marrow, it makes that meat more nutrient dense. Of course you want to make sure that's organic. The second one is fermented and sprouted foods. Um, those hold powerful, um, abilities in our body to heal our guts, to just bring us back to homeostasis. Um, the third is fruits and vegetables and the fourth is escaping me. I know it will come back. So I'll, I'll just like blurt it out once I remember it. But, um, you were talking about gratitude practice. So what are some other things, or what are some techniques you have for your clients to when they are in these states, especially now of, you know, depression, loneliness, stress addiction, which are things that are very prevalent in our society right now. What are some things that you tell your clients to start practicing that can help to start turning those negative genetic expressions off so they can live in a more balanced, vibrant way? Hmm. I think, um, one type of therapy is called DBT dialectical behavior therapy, and they talk a lot about something called the opposite action. And it is truly like when we are feeling lonely or depressed, we sometimes want to watch a really sad movie to like, feel like we connect with that, or we want to continue staying in our bedroom with the lights off. Um, but we have to engage in opposite action. So if you are noticing that you really want to sit in your room in the dark, you really have to move towards, even if it's just for a minute, if you can only tolerate it for a minute, um, we're gonna say like, just walk outside for the one minute, and then you're welcome to go back into your bedroom. We never want to like pull people out of what we call their window of tolerance. Right? So in the middle here is like, I'm putting both my hands up and in the middle of my hands, this is where we can generally tolerate stress below. It is where we move into these depressive levels and we're really shut down. And then above it is where there's this like high aggression or anxiety. And I don't want to tell a client, you know, you need to go outside for 30 minutes a day and do this opposite action. That's going to put them either way up or continuing to keep them way down. So we just do steps so that their nervous system slowly, the window of tolerance expands. So maybe in a week after they've done a minute, a day, they can do two minutes of opposite action. It truly is, um, really small steps. And I, I suspect it's similar in the nutrition field when you're trying to change somebody's nutritional habits and diets. We know that like a whole change isn't going to happen. We have to like start really small with folks. And then I think one other thing that I personally do, and there's some research behind it is, um, particularly for people that were living alone during the pandemic, and didn't have a lot of support. Like you can actually just wrap yourself up and imagine a warm embrace by somebody, um, that you, you know, do wish was near you. Or there were some clients I had that really didn't have any safe person to imagine that. So just imagining what a warm embrace from somebody might feel like. The brain is a super powerful thing. What you envision you can actually feel like if you think of a scent, you know, and you think what you truly think about it, and you close your eyes and you imagine it and you visualize it, you can start to actually smell that sense. Sometimes it's, it's wild what your brain can do. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. We talked a lot about that actually in play therapy, kids will come in and they'll start to play like a snake is coming near you. And for a moment, you can pretend that that snake is real your body, your brain doesn't know it's not real. Your body will then respond as if there is a snake in front of you, a real snake. That's what actors can too. Right? They get into that, those senses of the brain. And they really trick themselves into believing they're having this experience, which can be great, and it can be terrible. Abby, do you have things that you suggest for your clients or even things you do yourself to bring yourself into more of a, um, grounded settle place, um, to breathe and to feel less stress and tension. I know you even said you had your grounding tea for this conversation. Yeah. Um, I'm a big polyvagal theory fan. So that sounds like a mouthful. It's just polyvagal. Um, and Deb Dana teaches on it, but it's basically what Kelly was talking about. Like that tracking of the nervous system, the window of tolerance, there's a bunch of ways to talk about it. Um, but if we can come back into knowing, like, where am I, how am I, um, she talks about how story precedes state and it epigenetics, this fits so nicely. Like the stories of ourselves precedes, how our nervous system response. So in the present moment with a client or with myself, I'll notice when I'm stressed, I'm holding my breath or you'll see clients that are holding here. And so I might say like, Hey, I'm noticing as you're talking, you might want to breathe. And I'll even have them put their hand on their heart or like their solar plexus here and push in and just like gently pull down because these muscles are tight. Right. And so it's part of this like self soothing or what we would call reparenting from an attachment lens. It's like, there's something, uh, frightening. That's happening. That's not 35. Right. So we're going to come back and reparent like, in this moment, I have everything I need, like mantras. Um, I can't tell a client if it's going to be okay. Like, I don't know, but I know I'm with them in it. And in this moment it is okay. And like really coming back to that, grounded-ness, um, OTs have a lot more research than I can talk about right now about the midline. And when a cop talks about this too, like putting your hand on your heart, you're crossing the midline and he calls it this loving holding. And so just teaching clients, like, can you notice when you're afraid? And it looks like anxiety, but you're worried or afraid, or you're angry and just put your hand on your heart and be with it for 10 seconds. And it really alters the neuro the biochemistry of how they're read. They don't go so high out of their window, either direction. It's like, okay, I'm here. Just that supportive hand. So we do a lot of somatic strategies. I think in our culture, it's a coming back into our bodies. We kind of cut ourselves off. You know, this as a new in the nutrition world, we cut ourselves off from being embodied. And so much of mental health is coming back into the wholeness of ourselves. Yeah. And then I think to add one other strategy to that is Dr. Dan Siegel had also done a bunch of research that the fastest way to regulate our nervous system is to say how we're feeling out loud. I feel nervous. I feel embarrassed. I feel angry. Some of these strategies feel so simple. And unfortunately some of them have been overplayed by Buzzsprout and Instagram and all of these things, but there is science behind them. And if we're not saying it out loud, we're holding it. And that's sending those messages to the cells that things need to happen well. And that's creating that shame and guilt, right? I love vulnerability and the power of vulnerability. I am always the first person to say, I'm feeling insecure. I'm feeling guilty. I'm feeling like I let you down because once you're able to express that emotion, you get it off of just yourself. And you're able to share in that experience with someone else. And it's not about making yourself feel better, but it's about not keeping it some like shameful secret and just, you know, and that it is hard. It's really hard, especially say, you're arguing with your partner. You don't want to say, I realize I'm embarrassed that I, you know, like blew up 10 seconds go and I shouldn't have reacted that way. Especially when you're a stubborn person like me, you don't want to do that. But then on top of being irritated or angry, and in this argument, you also have this guilt in the back of your mind of a way you reacted that you shouldn't have. And so it's like releasing those emotions so that you can be present in the moment, rather than thinking about, you know, a minute and a half ago, I did this and that's creating this like extra stressful experience in my body. So I love the idea of using vulnerability in your practice with your clients. Yeah. It's self care throughout the day, right? Like if I'm a therapist and I see eight clients and I am not saying out loud, what's happening to me by the end of the day, like my body is exhausted. Yeah. You said it at the start of this call. You said, my heart is racing right now. I love it. Um, so what are some things then? I think people right now, especially right now, when they're stuck at home and they're working all day long and they have kids and self care is the first thing to go out the window. So what are some small things that you would suggest doing throughout the day? I know one you said was maybe try to just get outside, even if it's in your backyard for a minute and just, don't just stand outside, like, look at the leaves. What are the leaves look like? What do they sound like? Is there traffic or is there whatever, what does the sun feel like on your skin? And then you also said putting your hand on your heart and just really feeling that there for a second. So you can calm down. Are there other quick strategies you have for people that they can utilize in the middle of a Workday? Yeah. I think what you're talking about Lauren is like getting into people's senses and that's really what people can do very quickly. So if you're able to have like a candle with your favorite scent next to it, or maybe you have some like lotion that you really like, you know, if you're on zoom or Google meets or whatever, all day long, having that next to you, um, like Amie brought her favorite beverage, like having your favorite beverage next to you throughout the day. Um, and there's actually a ton of stretches you can do in a work chair that I think like Pinterest has. Um, and just like really trying to move your body as much as possible, right? Like we're on these work meetings and we're holding all this stress the best way to do that as to like move your body after each meeting, you know, however that feels to you to release it. Yeah. I think intuiting, like, how am I, and what do I need? So, you know, yoga teachers will say like, just move in any way that you need to that supportive. And, you know, you might stretch. Or, um, the reason I bring to you to all my sessions is because polyvagal theory tells us that our digestive system heightened sense of stress, like fear. And so if I'm drinking water or tea or have like a light snack for myself and a client, we're turning our digestive system on and we're sending the signal like, okay, right now, like we're safe enough to eat or drink. And, and we're all right. And so it's an implicit message, but I think having like a water is always good, but like tea, decaf, I'm guilty of too much caffeine when I'm stressed out. Um, but yeah, coming into the census, like, as we've been talking, I press on my toes into the floor cause I'm kind of like, oh, I need grounding. But if I was really, um, heavy, because I'm feeling a little bit like, whoa, you know that I need to have grounding. If I was feeling too heavy, I might like sit up taller and stretch and do some heart openers or move my hands over my head. So I think that we want to teach people to know like, what do I need? And a lot of us were not modeled that or taught that in childhood or epigenetically. So it really is coming back into the self as adults. Now. It's amazing. It's curious when people start doing it. I think it takes so much awareness. Right. And it takes discipline because first of all, it's all about exploration. What works for both of you may not work for me. And so it's about trying new things. I love journaling journaling and I, God. Haven't journaled in a very long time. I go on my kicks and I journal for three and a half months. And I'm like, God, I journal about journaling feeling good. And then I stop and I, you know, get busy and something else starts. And it's always like in the back of my mind, you should be journaling right now. Um, but journaling doesn't work for everyone. I went to lunch with a friend today and he was like, I just hate writing. And I'm like, okay, what about speaking out loud? And you're recording your thoughts or, um, if you don't want to record your thoughts, I guess just speak out loud or whatever will work for you. Some people going outside works like that. The heart thing might not work for everyone. There's different visualization things you can do. It's about exploring. And then it's about staying disciplined because as I said before, the first thing to go is self-care. And I think that is the hardest thing for even me. And I think I'm like a fairly mindful person, but staying consistent and being disciplined is really difficult. And then you have shame and guilt arise in your body for not keeping promises to yourself. So it feels like it's this constant wheel that you're going in, but it's, you know, I love those pictures that are like health and wellness is not linear. You don't like learn something and just keep going up, up, up, and you're becoming a better human, it's a mess. It's a disaster, it's a roller coaster. And sometimes you have great weeks or months or just a great day. And sometimes you have the opposite and terrible. And it's about accepting that and like being along for the ride and knowing that everyone goes through that. Yeah. I love that, Lauren. I think it goes back to what we were saying. Like, even when you're having the bad day, however you reacted, if you can just hold, I was doing the best I could with what I have in that moment. And my body was reacting in a way to keep me safe. And when we say safe, we're not talking about physical safety, but just right. You know, emotionally safe Haven. I think that's interesting though, because, so how do you come to terms with, then you said I was doing the best I in that moment, what if you weren't doing the best you could in that moment? What if you snapped and you knew better than that, or you've been more mindful than that? Is it still that you were doing the best in that moment? Or, you know, I don't know. Yeah. I mean, I, I hold that, that is true. That yes, even, even if you knew better in that moment, something happened to where your nervous system without you consciously knowing said, there's a threat in front of you. And we are either going to fight flight or freeze. So if you snapped your nurses and said, we're going to fight to survive in that moment. And that's why, for instance, when you've got like assault victim to maybe pass out and there's all this shame, I should have fought, I knew to fight, I've been planning to fight, but in that moment, your nervous system knows better than this up here. This turns off and you go down into survival mode and it says, actually you passing out is going to help you survive. Yeah. I completely agree with all of that Kelly. And I think sometimes the nervous system, like we love neuroscience. Um, some people hear it better when we talk about parts. Like the part of me that is frustrated that my husband ate the last piece of chocolate is different than my vows on my wedding day. Right. And so it's like, there was that part of me for whatever reason, um, that showed up and the other part knows better that like loves him dearly and has lots of grace, but when I'm activated or stressed out or angry, um, I might say things that I know better than to say, and I can go back and repair. Like, we're not saying that it's, that you can just do whatever you want. Um, but that there's room for, self-compassion always, always every time. So two, really two questions arise from me from that then. So the first one is when do you hold yourself responsible when do you give yourself self-compassion and the second Abby, this idea of your imparts. I mean, that's so interesting because those parts can live together in the same exact moment. So like an example for me, sometimes I'm really annoyed at my husband for playing call of duty and drinking white claws on a weekday when I'm doing a million things. But at the same time, I love him so much. These are two different parts that are fighting each other in my body, along with a million other parts, you know, there's like so many different things. How can these different emotions just live together in your body? And like, what do you do with all of those? So I just threw a lot of questions at you. We can go back to the responsibility and accountability versus self-compassion first and then hop into my issue with my husband in his call of duty habits. I'm thinking so much about integration. Um, so when we talk, having different parts or we exist in multitudes always all the time. So Lauren, the fact that you can hold that as a Testament of your mental wellness, right? So there are people that are quite, um, unable to do that. And it's just a Testament of the woundedness. There's only one way only one perspective, only one, right? And so when we can hold all of the complexity, um, that's a really positive thing and they do exist at the same time. And, um, depending on what orientation, you're, there's different ways to talk about this. I like to talk about the authentic self or the core self. Um, that's, that's the part I want to be making choices if I'm connected to my goodness, preciousness, my essence, um, people talk about that in different ways in the therapy world. I don't want to be making choices from the traumatized four year old part of me. Right. But sometimes that happens if I get scared or frightened or, and so I can bring mindfulness to that. That's why there's self-compassion um, it does not excuse like we don't make we, we hold accountable or actions, but I don't think we can really, this is just my opinion. I don't know, Kelly maybe save me if it's wrong, but like, I don't, I don't think we can excuse our choices, um, because of the past or because of these parts of the story that that little girl says, right. It's not a reason to just scream at my partner for example, but I don't, I can't hold myself accountable authentically and make interchange unless I can first have self-compassion. So the compassion comes first, then I'm regulated. All these parts can hold hands and be together. And then I get to go repair with my spouse or talk about this with a therapist or so I think it's compassion first, then accountability. And they go hand in hand because we can't take accountability if we're not regulated. And self-compassion brings regulation is how I would think about that. Hmm. Yeah. I completely agree if we are just shaming ourselves, there is no way to, um, take some accountability. Cause then you're just adding like more shame onto there. So we first have to add the compassion to bring down that defense. Um, but you're a hundred percent, right? Lauren. Like there has to be accountability. Um, isn't it Lisa Kelly that talks about how like judgment and self judgment, these sheds is registered as a threat in the brain. Yeah. Just like I should have. Yeah. Yeah. She talks about four threats to the brain and one of them is shooting yourself. And so she'll walk people through an exercise where just for one minute, she said, I want you to close your eyes for one minute. And I want you to tell yourself the latest should that you've been telling yourself these days I should be eating healthier. I should be exercising more often. I should spend more time with my kids. I shouldn't watch TV so much, whatever your favorite show does these days for one minute, you close your eyes and you'd say that should over and over in your brain, you don't stop. And within 30, 40 seconds, tears are just running down people's face because their brain is now registering that as a threat or people will say, I'm mad. I'm really mad. Um, and that again is like moving into that like fight. Yeah. And accountability is like, that's my authentic self that gets to heal and learn and be vulnerable, right? Like you were saying, it's not the activated parts that are in a argument with a partner or self judgment. So if we can decrease shame and self judgment with some compassion, then our brain is like, okay, all is well. And I can look at a situation like, yeah, there's some accountability here. And I think that's why the people there's like a joke in therapy that the people who need to be in therapy or not. So the rest of us are, you know, to deal with them. We see that this lack of accountability it's because of the lack of mental health and integration. One, if you don't mind learning for me to add one more thing, please, there is a research that says relationships are actually supposed to be 70% of the time messy. And you're only supposed to really be doing well. 30% of the time, what it says is that secure adults form out of that, um, healthy, like romantic relationships format of that. So as long as you have the 70% messy, but as 30% of the time, you're repairing that messiness. So you're supposed to have these ruptures, but the, the, um, the relationships that end the people that come out that don't have these secure attachments that you are not practicing or experiencing repair. And I'm not talking about this before. And let me know if you disagree at me, but that I think goes with our relationship with ourselves, like we should be kind of messy 70% of the time, and we just need to repair with ourselves 30% of the time. Yeah. You know what I love so much about that statement is that it's changing your perception also. And power of thought is pretty incredible. So like say sometimes you're annoyed with a person and you change your perception and you go back to gratitude, right? Like we were talking about, and you start instead in your head, mentally listing the things that you're grateful for, it's changing your perception of the situation. And so changing the perception of your relationship with yourself or with your partner, that this is okay, this is the way it's supposed to be. Of course, in a healthy manner. If it's, you know, unhealthy, then there are other things don't just tell yourself it's supposed to be that way. I think there are probably boundaries for messiness. Um, but I think that's, that's powerful because changing your perception of the situation, rather than living in this annoyance, um, or anger at yourself, like I'm always putting myself down or my partner's always doing this. You change the perception that let's, this is, this is a learning experience and this is something for us to grow from once we enter that healing phase and then we'll go through the mess again. And it's the roller coaster of life that we go through. Yeah. Yeah. I love all of that. It's already been an hour, which I don't even know is possible. I mean, I guess we have seven minutes until it's an hour, but I could talk to you guys for forever, but I want to give you the stage a little bit. Um, since you were seeing clients every day and you know what people are dealing with in real life right now. Is there anything that you want to offer up? Um, tips, advice of how to get through challenging times or even work through anxiety as we go through the, we reenter the world, which can be scary for some, um, just any advice you have top of mind that you want to give to listeners or Watchers right now. Do you have anything off the top of your mind right now having, I know I threw that one at you. I'm thinking, um, I don't know that I have tangible advice and I don't think that's like what therapists do. That's like life coach. Right. But, um, but I think finding your person or your people, um, but, and sometimes, sometimes it is just the therapist from there's so much loneliness and that's okay too. But if you have those people, um, be with them, like that would be my biggest, you don't need therapy to heal. It can be wonderful to be in therapy. You don't need it. You need relationship. So we're wounded in relationship, we are healed in relationship. Um, so as we enter this like new re-emerging from the pandemic, um, there's been so much loss the last year, like be with your people and be with yourself. And so I know that's not tangible, but that's the first thing that comes to mind. Yeah. I think I would add on that just being in relationship even without people, but like, can you change your relationship with food? Can you change your relationship with exercise? Can you, right. Like if you can just find something that feels connecting, um, and that you've changed in, you're just kind of finding like a relationship that feels both nurturing and protective and healthy. Yeah. Like trees are that for me, we talked about trees, nature. It's nurturing and protective, but I love that Kelly. It doesn't have to be a person. Yeah. And back to what you said, Lauren truly is hard to practice vulnerability, but, um, if you can practice it in like the spots that you find easier, right? So maybe you start with like your animal at home and you just practice, like, talking about how you felt about your day to the animal. It's again, it's just like taking those really small steps and not setting these huge expectations for ourselves. Um, because then we're just not going to do it. It's overwhelming. So where can I start? Where it feels safe and now I've gotten some rhythm of that. Where can I go next? Um, so if you feel anxious about going out in public, can you start with like a walk around the block? If you feel anxious about traveling, can you travel to like the 30 minutes sitting next to you? I love all of those. And going back to be with your, your person or your people. I think a, a bad habit that has arisen out of COVID-19 is being attached to things as well. Like physical things like this thing sitting in my lap right here. Um, that was my phone for people who listen to the podcast. And so I've watch the video, but when you're with your personnel, your people like challenging yourself to put your phone away or on airplane mode and don't resort to a TV show or a movie like forced yourself to sit in silence, because I know you guys also speak about this, like silence in the therapy room. Silence can be very powerful. Why is that? Why is silence healing in some ways. We had that? We just loved that last episode. Yeah. I think, well, one Western culture in general, we are just like bombarded. There's so much stimulus happening, um, that we become disconnected from ourselves. Silence. I think that's what has also happened in the pandemic is it forced people to slow down and all of a sudden people are like, I'm living with all of my monsters that I've not addressed. And silence is scary because that's what it does. It brings to light all of these things, um, that maybe we haven't been addressing. Cause we can distract with lots of noise. Yeah. I agree with all of that. I think that silence practicing safe, stillness or safe silence is something we do in therapy. We can do that on your own time too. So like you just said, Lauren, putting your phone away for just two minutes. Like my toddler was playing with my iPhone and it like kicked me off for like, you can turn back on in eight minutes and it felt like the longest eight minutes, I just kept looking at my phone like, Ugh, I can't get on. Right. And so just practicing being with ourselves, um, and exploring like, why is that hard? Why is that hard to do or, um, I think being curious, a lot of the people in our field talk about, um, relentless curiosity. Can we be just curious about what's going on and silence affords us that luxury that we just kind of like avoid being with. I like the idea that presence isn't just about being like knowing what's going on in the moment, but it's knowing what's also going on in your own internal, you know, emotional health. So like you said, I'm having an issue. Like I'm complaining in my head to myself about my phone, not turning on, why am I having that issue? Like being aware that you're having those thoughts. I love when my phone dies or I don't have service and I have like this forced upon me, like can't use my phone that I always take as a sign from the universe that it's time to get rid of the phone for awhile. And sometimes those are the best times when my phone comes back on. I'm like, oh God. Um, but one other thing I was going to say related to Kelly, your tip is I've been doing that a lot. Um, in times of like when I'm feeling unhappy or stressed, like through workouts or whatever, trying to change that mindset and that perception. So I've been practicing, repeating words. So when I feel myself, either getting like fiery, you know, and I'm getting like irritated and angry, I say, settle, settle, settle to myself. And then during workouts specifically, when I don't want to be doing it anymore, I repeat joy to myself. And I like bring myself back to try to, you know, I'm like, we're lucky to be in this moment and to be able to move our bodies and to have that time and opportunity and resources to be able to do this exercise or whatever it is you're doing. So I don't know, creating little words has helped me come back to the present moment and change that perception again, which changes the environment in your body, which can improve your epigenetics and the stress that you feel. And it all comes from full circle. That was a perfect way to tie it all. In. Well, I do also really quickly before we hop off here, want you both to talk about the podcast that you host, which is the whole therapist podcast. So share a little bit about that with you. Yes. Yeah. Um, so we were going to go to like a pod studio or something out here to like do it and then, um, the pandemic hit. So I think we took a break and then we still really wanted to do it and the pandemic wasn't going anywhere. So, um, you know, before we started live, we kind of told you Lauren, that we just went on, um, Amazon and YouTube and figured it all out. And I think what our goal was that often the podcasts that we hear from other therapists is just like more therapists jargon. It's, it's more training. Um, and we knew from interpersonal neurobiology that we're human and like we have to bring our humanness into the therapy room. And there are people that are talking about that in our field, but there's not a podcast about it. And so I think our intention was to normalize that for therapists, like you are both, you are a therapist and you're human and both are allowed in the therapy room. And we're going to have episodes that like try and leave out the jargon and the theorizing and bring in, um, what it's like to have both of you in this room. Right? Like the parts and the integration. Yeah. And authenticity. Right. So our clients know if we're being inauthentic and other therapists now I would be trying what I think we talked about the felt sense when other therapists or healers listened to our podcast, how do we want them to feel? Because there's wonderful podcasts in our field, but I often feel incompetent. Like, Ooh, I gotta look up that word. And, oh, here's another thing I need to look into. And there can be joy in that. And it's, depending on my state of mind can be a lot to take on. It feels like work. Um, and we wanted people to feel like they were having coffee with us or they could laugh about coffee breath in our own masks during session. Like we just wanted it to be a place to gather, um, and provide tangible information to, but authentic. Why is it sometimes so hard to just be human? Yeah. Yeah. That's crazy. Right. Well, how can people find your podcast, get in touch with you, follow you any of that? Yeah, I think on Instagram, it's just the whole therapist podcast. Um, Facebook, I believe so. So you know, the authentic, you know, on Facebook, we can't be the whole therapist because Facebook reads it as the whole rapist. Like if you spell out therapist, it's like the rapist, the rapist looks like it's not allowed. So on Facebook it's TWT podcasters. And then we have a website, the whole therapist institute.com, um, and then Abby, um, owns a group practice and her group practice is being the Denver area. And mine is, um, anchor counseling. For people. And who might be interested in reaching out to you for therapy? Do you do remote therapy or is your practice mostly based in Colorado? Our laws say in most states that you have to be licensed in the state that you're providing where the person lives. So there are people who are dual licensed. Um, I am not licensed in Arizona and Colorado. I'm only licensed in Colorado, so I can only provide therapy to people that are residents of Colorado. Yeah. But I would go ahead. Are these at the same for you? Yeah, I do remote therapy. Um, however, it's only in Colorado. I used to be really licensed in Illinois, but I let that lapse. Um, we really love doing consultation, so I have several consultees and like other therapists, if someone just wanted to learn about some of the things we were talking about, but it wasn't a therapist, client relationship. We but like supervision and therapist, client relationship has to be in the state that you're licensed. We know that there's a mental health crisis right now. And people in every state are struggling to find therapists. And most of Europe, as we know, have wait, lists out the door, but the best way you can find a therapist is going to psychology today.com and then you can type in your zip code. If you want to use insurance, you can filter your insurance. You can filter if you want a male or female, if you want somebody who does somatic work or other types of therapy. Yep. That's. Great. Thank you so much. Well, then I just got lucky that I got to have a therapy session with you live on YouTube and I'm just getting that. It's not a thing we're not breaking any rules or laws, but thank you guys so much for this conversation. It was really awesome and a great way to wrap up mental health awareness month. Although I think every month is mental health awareness month and we can all just do a better job of showing ourselves self-compassion and being present in the moment and forgiving ourselves and knowing that we're on a journey, none of us are perfect, especially now. Thank you so much, Lauren. This was awesome. Thank you. And I hope you enjoyed that interview. As a reminder, this podcast is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional care from a doctor, otherwise qualified health professional. This podcast is provided on the understanding that medical or other health related services. If you're looking for help in your journey, seek out we'll see you next week.