How to Reduce Overwhelm in a Time of Chronic Stress with Dr. Aditi Nerurkar

00:00:00    Alyssa

You're listening to Voices of Your Village. This is episode 267. I got to hang out with Dr. Aditi Nerurkar and y 'all, this is a conversation I feel like so many of us have been needing. Her book The Five Resets helps us dive into what it looks like to reduce stress and overwhelm so that we can show up as our best self. I love her work because it's so actionable and practical. I think it's especially key to look at how to reduce overwhelm in a time of chronic stress, where when we look at the past few years, we've had a lot of chronic stressors. And diving into some real tips and strategies around what this looks like and why it's important, and that not all stress is bad stress, I think is a game changer for us being able to live in healthy bodies, both physically and emotionally. I'm so excited to be going into the new year with this in mind and to have Dr. Aditi's book, The Five Resets, in my hand. Y 'all, run, don't walk to snag this book. All right, let's dive in. 


00:01:13    Alyssa

Hey there, I'm Alyssa Blask Campbell. I'm a mom with a master's degree in early childhood education and co -creator of the Collaborative Emotion Processing Method. I'm here to walk alongside you through the messy vulnerable parts of being humans raising other humans with deep thoughts and actionable tips. Let's dive in together. 


00:01:36    Alyssa

Hello everyone and welcome back to voices of your village. Today I get to hang out with Aditi Nerurkar, she has an MD, a master's of public health, is a Harvard physician, you may know her from NBC news as a medical commentator and Fortune 50 speaker with an expertise in stress, resilience, burnout, and mental health. She's helped over 200 ,000 people protect their mental health with a personalized science -backed approach to managing stress. Aditi, hello. 


00:02:11    Dr. Aditi

Hi, Alyssa. It's such a pleasure to join you. 


00:02:15    Alyssa

It's so nice to get to hang out with you. And boy, do we need this conversation you're bringing to the table. 


00:02:22    Dr. Aditi

Stress is the great equalizer, and especially over the past few years. You know, stress has always been in the shadows. We as doctors and people in the clinical space, you and others, we've always known that stress was a problem. But only in the past several years during the pandemic, did we really see just how much of an impact it's had on every faction of society, all ages, all stages, every industry, it's really become what we call the shadow pandemic. 


00:02:53    Alyssa

Oh, that's so interesting. I haven't heard it called that. It literally feels like everywhere I turn both like as a parent in our parenting community, you know, I have young kids and so every parent I know is like, yeah, I'm stressed. And then looking at my field of early childhood, like the burnout rate is so high right now. And everyone's feeling this like stress and overwhelm. And you had shared something recently on Instagram that like, I was like, Oh, I just like feel like I need this tattooed, like on my wrist or on my body in front of my face that really was hitting on the like burnout culture and that rest is not something you earn. 


00:03:30    Dr. Aditi

Yeah. You know, what's so interesting about our society is that rest is only something that is given to us after we have achieved X, Y, and Z, right? That is how we are socialized to believe that rest is a luxury. It is nice to have, But in fact, for our brains and our bodies, biologically speaking, we are wired for rest and recovery. Only when we have ample rest and recovery can we then be productive, engaged members of society. And that is the rub. It's that we are taught, it's our hustle culture. We are taught to go, go, go without any respite. And, you know, ultimately we are not machines and even machines, like when we think about, you know, our little trusty device here, the smartphone, even that needs to be plugged in or shut down for that recharge to happen. Great things that we want to do in the world will not happen without ample rest. 


00:04:29    Alyssa

And I find like, but how do we find that rest, to be like the hardest. I'm so jazzed for your book,  The Five Resets: Rewire Your Brain and Body for Less Stress and More Resilience. I want to dive into like what this book is all about, like the five resets. What are The Five Resets? Because I feel like I need all five, Aditi, if you could throw those at me. 


00:04:54    Dr. Aditi

So the title of the book is The Five Resets: Rewire Your Brain and Body for Less Stress and More Resilience. And I was really coming into this world of writing a book. First, I resisted writing a book for about 10 years. And I had patients reaching out to me and asking me, you know, Dr. Nerurkar, when are you going to write a book, or people who would see me at talks because I am a public speaker. And I didn't for many years write a book, simply because because I just didn't have the time. So I was living very much the, you know, life of someone who is stressed and working and unable to carve out time. When I ultimately decided that now was the time to write a book, I wanted to frame it in a way that could be captivating and illuminating for the people who were stressed. So as you will learn in the book, I was a patient before I was a doctor, simply because I was stressed. I was a working person when I was a medical resident. I was working 80 hours a week and extremely stressed in my job, seeing what I was seeing. And back then when I was in my training, there was no language around self -care or self -love or recovery. We didn't even really talk about resilience in the way that we do now. It was all about, you know, certainly not mental health. It was just, I was told at a very young age in my medical training, pressure makes diamonds. And what you are going through is a very high pressure environment, but you're going to come out a diamond. So I told myself, Oh, I'm a diamond in the making when I was feeling stressed. And, you know, stress didn't happen to people like me, was what my thought process was. But in fact, stress is the great equalizer, and it happens to everyone.  And so through my journey of understanding my own personal stress, was I able to then pivot in my medical career to focus on it as a doctor, and then later as a speaker and health communicator to reach more people, rather than the one on one office interaction. And so the five resets the book is really born out of my many decades of treating patients. And you know, in medical training, when we are learning about anything, whether it's heart disease or diabetes or pancreatitis, the way we diagnose something is through pattern recognition. We see something over and over and over again. And there are what we call in medicine, a constellation of symptoms. And we put it together and we say, oh, this looks like a heart attack, or this looks like diabetes, or maybe this is a stomach ulcer. So there's lots of symptoms and we put them together to develop the diagnosis. The thing about stress is that we think of it as this mythical creature without borders, it's vague, it's hard to understand. But through my medical training and my vantage point of having a stress management practice for many years, I don't see patients now, is that I was able to develop that sense of pattern recognition with patients because I kept seeing the same sorts of things over and over and over. And what was really fascinating to me as a clinician, is that when I started speaking to larger audiences, so not seeing patients one -on -one, but when I started speaking to broader audiences, I noticed that those same patterns continued. There was, you know, in the book, I call it the five universal truths about stress. These five things kept popping up over and over and over. And through those truths, The Five Resets were born. And these are the five things that patients have asked me again and again and again, that audience members have asked me, and that I have that response to. And that is what The Five Resets are, framed not just from my clinical expertise, but also from the people that I have spoken to, what their needs are. And ultimately, when you are a physician, a healer, a clinician, what you ultimately want to do and what people really need is to feel seen, heard, understood, and ultimately loved. And so this book is really a love letter to people who are stressed because I too was once really stressed and I decided to be the doctor that I needed. 


00:09:22    Alyssa

I love that. I love that. I think what I find for myself, is just having this conversation with my husband, we really prioritize downtime and family time. And what this means is that we say a lot of no's. We say no's to kids' birthday parties of my child. We say no's to hanging out with friends. We say no's to things that then I can end up with a full calendar. And I've realized for myself, that for me leads to the stress and overwhelm and burnout is when my calendar feels feel so full that I can't just be. Especially in like the book tour season of being 7 million weeks pregnant, launching a book, whatever the reality of like, oh, I'm busier than I'm used to right now. And feeling how that felt. I was like, thank goodness this is a season, because I can't sign up for this. I think for us within my household, the hardest part is figuring out like,  alright what are we gonna take off of our plate that really coming to terms with like we don't have to say yes to everything, and what are our best yeses outside of the things we do have to say yes to. Like we got to go to work to have food on the table and a roof over our head and whatever and then outside of those things where do we say yes and where am I like I don't care if I have a dirty bathroom, right?  Like I'm not just not gonna put that on my plate this week.


00:10:57    Dr. Aditi

You know, I think you and your family structure, your husband, you have a great sense of self awareness to be able to say, this is something that I want to do, or this is something that I can't do. And having that sense of, strong sense of being able to set boundaries. But for many people, including me, when I was in my medical training, learning to say no is one of the hardest things. Because we are taught from a very young age that we should always say yes. We talk about it in the book. It's called Toxic Resilience. It's a byproduct of hustle culture. When we think about the word resilience, it used to have a really positive connotation, right? And when you think about what the scientific word means, it means bouncing back from difficult, adverse conditions, or, you know, the ability to adapt and recover through challenges. But in fact, over the past several years, particularly because of recent global events, the word resilience has really taken on this new meaning and people bristle at that word because there's an element of toxic resilience. It's like, do things no matter what. It's a mind over matter situation. 


00:12:14    Alyssa

Like power through. 


00:12:16    Dr. Aditi

Power through, muscle through. You're resilient. You can do it. 


00:12:20    Alyssa

I'm like, I'm not. I can't. Where do I tap out? 


00:12:25    Dr. Aditi

I think for me, because my work, so much of my work is in stress, burnout, mental health, and resilience. That was so palpable that people had almost a visceral reaction to that word resilience. And so there is this idea of toxic resilience because that's not what true resilience is. True resilience is understanding your boundaries, understanding when you've hit your limits. And then, like we talked about at the start of our conversation, resting to be able to recover, to then go out and achieve all of those things that you want to achieve. The goal is not to live a life filled with toxic resilience, of course not, but it is also not to live a life with no stress. This notion of resilience is problematic. And of course, this idea of toxic resilience is everywhere, which which isn't the true definition of what real resilience is, which is what we talked about. But also the idea of stress is not something that-- we should never aspire to a life without stress. It is biologically implausible. Healthy stress is what we're aiming for. And the way you described it, Alyssa, you and me and many working parents, we don't have levels of healthy stress. We have levels of unhealthy stress because of all of these external factors, the infrastructure, all of the demands, you know, we only have a finite amount of bandwidth as people. And yet we are meant to function like we have an unlimited amount of bandwidth. And the goal of The Five Resets is to reframe that conversation that it's not just about living a life without stress, it is biologically impossible. A little bit of stress is helpful. In fact, a little bit of stress is what got you and I here on this podcast talking, It's what got you all of those degrees that you have and that level of expertise. It's what's gotten many of our listeners up in the morning at work, engaging in the world, you know, going to the grocery store, making a list of groceries that you need to buy and then purchasing them. That is a healthy amount of stress because it gets you out of bed onto your day and it keeps you somewhat productive. The challenge is when stress goes from being healthy to unhealthy. And that transition is something that all of us are facing. We don't even realize that it's happening. And then it's unrealistic because we're living in this life of unhealthy stress. And it's unrealistic to say, okay, I want a life without stress. And so we dont do anything. That's not the right messaging. Because then we just, again, it's like similar to toxic resilience. You think, oh, I'm not going to have a life without stress. That's impossible. Why bother trying? And so the goal is not to have a life without stress. That makes no sense. It's to have a life where you have a healthy, manageable amount of stress. It's compartmentalized. You're able to navigate your life. You're able to find joy and purpose and meaning in your life. You are able to say no, setting boundaries is a huge part of it, but when you are depleted and you don't have much to give and you're running on fumes, setting boundaries is a major undertaking and it's something that is a learned behavior. So doing that. So first it's like, I commend you for being able to recognize that you have boundaries and that you can't say yes to everything and recognizing that you have a limited amount of bandwidth because that's the human condition. We all do. But most people, I would say many people aren't there yet. 


00:15:59    Alyssa

Sure. It was like, I feel like my pandemic response, like I went into the pandemic, very much not in this space and overwhelmed and really stressed and trying to do all the things all the time. And then when we couldn't do all the things and I got to feel what that felt like, I really liked that feeling. Right. And so for me, I moved through the pandemic with like, I don't want to go back to what I had that like this feeling of, oh yeah, I, we're not going to friends' houses. There aren't playdates for the kids. There aren't like all these things. I was like, I like this feeling. That was a turning point for us. 


00:16:43    Alyssa

You say that parenting ourselves is about healthy boundaries. I love that so much. You know, we talked in Tiny Humans, Big Emotions about stress, a little bit of like toxic stress and tolerable stress, and what does that look like. And I also love that mention that like, in the same way that we shouldn't expect anyone to live in a regulated state all the time, unless you have a hormonal imbalance, you're going to cycle in and out of dysregulation. Same thing here that like, you're going to experience stress. And that is what helps us move through the day and stress in and of itself, just like dysregulation, they're not bad things, but it's learning how to not then spiral, right. And be overwhelmed by it. And so I want to touch a little bit more here on boundaries and what it looks like to move into the space where we can have healthy boundaries. How do we, how do we do that? How do we do that? 


00:17:35    Dr. Aditi

That's the million dollar question. It's really different for everyone. And so first is, you know, cause not all boundaries are created equal and a certain boundary for me that holds value might not be the same boundary for you and it might hold a different value. And so I think the first step is really understanding what your non -negotiables are. Like for me, one of my non -negotiables is sleep. I try to walk the talk in terms of what I, you know, I practice what I preach and I very much walk the talk, simply because I have learned and it's not even, you know, you can know all the science and not do the right thing, right? But it's just because it's how I function best and how I reach that place that you were talking about, how it just feels good. So, you know, figuring out what those non -negotiables are. So for me, it's sleep. I prioritize and protect my sleep like the vital resource it is. And it's because of experimentation. It's not because of all of the science, though there is a plethora of science, which I have had all read everything about it. And then yet I was shirking on my sleep because we, you know, for many reasons, work, screen time, parenting, et cetera. And so kind of figuring out what your boundaries are for me, it was sleep, protecting my sleep. And so there are things that I have done, created systems in my life so that I can get the sleep that I need. For others, it may be screen time. So when I talked a little bit in that particular social media post, parenting ourselves is about creating boundaries. Screen time is a good example. With families, when we have children, we create many boundaries for our children. We say that, you know, you can only have screens for 30 minutes a day or an hour a day or two hours a day, whatever it is for your family. And that is a very clear boundary. And yet for us, we don't have any boundaries on ourselves. Because, you know, we're grownups, we're supposed to know better, or I don't know what our rationale is, but we never put boundaries on ourselves. And yet we put boundaries in our children for certain behaviors, because we know that it is healthy. Ultimately, it's going to lead to a better place for physical and mental health, we have a bedtime for them, we have screen limits for them. And so parenting ourselves in much the same way that we parent our kids, you know, having a bedtime for ourselves, saying to ourselves that, okay, you know, at the end of the day, the scientific recommendation is typically two hours before bedtime, limiting screen time, because the blue light from screens can impact your sleep. You know, what I typically like to say is 20 minutes twice a day, social media, because social media has a direct hit on your brain chemistry and clickbait works on the biology of stress.  And the more time we, and there's plenty of studies to back this up, the more time we spend on social media, the worse we feel. And that goes from all ages, not just teenagers, where the studies are mostly, but also adults. And, you know, the comparison and all of those other things that we, that we feel when we're on social media, it impacts our mental health. It also impacts our sleep because we are simply on a screen. So, 


00:20:45    Alyssa

Hang on I need to pause you real quick because like, yes, I need this message because I have, I literally recently said like, oh, I just feel like I will feel like everything's fine. I will feel proud of myself. I am liking who I am as a parent, all these things. And then I hit social media and then I leave. And it's not even like right away necessarily or that I'm conscious of it. But then I'll start to notice like, oh, now I feel like I'm supposed to be doing this. Or, oh, those people went to that event together. They like paired up as friends and went like, should I have asked someone to go to this thing? Like whatever. I just can find all of the ways that I am failing as a human in 14 seconds, right? Just with a quick scroll and really started to notice that exact thing and how much the social media part is adding to my stress. 


00:21:42    Dr. Aditi

I mean, always, I couldn't say it better. You know, social media is a wonderful tool. The strategy is not to stay off social media and be disconnected. Because you want to be an informed citizen, it is a tool. And studies have shown that abstinence from social media and technology is not helpful. There have been studies that show that.  However, decreasing our social media reliance and the use is incredibly helpful for mental health. For all of the reasons that you talk about, when you are engaging with social media, it is also engaging with you. And all of those, the user interface, the likes, the dopamine release, when you see visual cues of things like the FOMO that you feel like, oh, I didn't take take this fabulous trip to the Mediterranean this summer. But I see this family did and that family did. So there's that social comparison. And so while it is very wonderful in many ways to engage on social media, you feel connected with people, you learn about the world. You and I met on social media, your work, and I'm an avid supporter and follower of your work. And like almost every single post that you post on social media, because it really resonates with me as a parent. There are are so many things that social media can help us with. However, we have to parent ourselves and set limits because it can also equally harm us if it goes unchecked. The same way that, you know, our children, when they watch Peppa Pig or Bluey, we've talked about Bluey before. It's wonderful, but, you know, 10, 15 hours of Bluey a day, it's not so wonderful, right? So everything in moderation and, you know, these social media companies and technology, the goal of all of this technology is to keep you engaged. Consuming the news or social media, it's consumption. That's the metric, right? Like the metric of success for any social media is that you spend more time on it. And so there are many people who are working to make this possible. So if you, for example, with your story, you know, don't knock yourself. It's not you, it's your biology. 


00:23:54    Alyssa



00:23:55    Dr. Aditi

And so especially, I write about this in the Five Resets, especially when you're stressed, it's an evolutionary perspective. It's our primal urge to scroll. So when we're feeling stressed, if there's something happening in the world and we're feeling anxious about it, scrolling is what we do to feel safe. If you think back to cave person times, the rest of the tribe would go to bed and there would be a night watchman, watching over the tribe, making sure that there are no predators, making sure that everyone is sleeping soundly, that the village is safe. And ultimately what's happened is when we go into fight or flight mode or that stress mode, our sense of self -preservation is heightened and it's threatened. And so we start scrolling and we start scanning for danger. We try to see, are we safe? Are we safe? Is my family safe? Are we safe? And so scrolling social media becomes the night watchman. We don't do it at night. We do it during the day, but it's that constant, it's our biology at work. So instead of berating yourself and thinking, I really need to get off of this, oh my god why, it's not you it's your biology. Take yourself off the hook just create some very simple things that you can do. So a 20 minute timer quite literally set a timer check and when the 20 minute time is up that's when you have to stop, even though you might feel the pull. The other strategy is to have something to replace it. Nature doesn't like a vacuum.


00:25:17    Alyssa



00:25:18    Dr. Aditi

So when you feel the need to reach for your phone, let's say you're doing some work and that's our primary news consumption device, your social media device, right? For many of us, our smartphone. Reach for something else. Reach for a good book of quotes, short stories, something that you can hold onto and have that experience, the tactile experience of scrolling. Instead, you flip the page and you read. There are many studies to show that on average, a human being grabs or glances at their phone thousands of times a day. And it is very much tied to stress. It is also very much tied to sleep. And so setting boundaries initially for social media consumption or sleep or anything takes time. You have to give yourself time just like you would be, you know, the way we set boundaries for our children, we set the boundary and expect pushback. We manage that pushback in a kind, nurturing and gentle way, until that boundary is established. And even then there will be pushback from time to time. 


00:26:25    Alyssa

We are just like kids. 


00:26:28    Dr. Aditi

So learning that for ourselves is very important. 


00:26:33    Alyssa



00:26:33    Dr. Aditi

Ultimately, it helps our mental health. And when we feel less stress, when we have that true sense of resilience, when we are flourishing with with our mental and physical health, we can bring our best self forward for our community, for our families, for our kids, for our partners, for everyone, and most importantly, for ourselves. 


00:26:53    Alyssa

Yeah, exactly. And I think one of those like kind of barriers or the pushbacks to boundaries that will come up often for me is that like internal narrative of productivity, right? I got an award when I was in eighth grade for perfect attendance. And I had received that award so many times for so many years prior that I got like a special award for having the most perfect attendance, which now makes me wanna throw up, right? Because I really like it's not that I didn't get sick. It's not that I didn't need a break. It's not. It's that I was living in this culture of like, you just keep going. Your needs don't matter. You power through and you keep going. And that has shown up in so many ways, like to get to the point where I'm like, yeah, I'm going to truly let go of the cleaning of the bathroom, or I'm going to leave the dishes for a little while. Or if you pop into my house, like it's not going to look like a Pinterest house. It just isn't. And I'm fine with that at this point, but it took me a while to get there because those internal narratives will pop up of like, oh my gosh, what's this person going to think of me? Are they going to leave and be like, did you see her toilet? Like, does she own, should I get her a brush to clean it? Like, do you think it's an accessibility thing? She doesn't have one. Like, what are they going to think? Right. So like all those narratives will pop up and they're like, oh my gosh, my mom would be so disappointed in this. Or that sort of jazz is so strong that I'm curious your thoughts on that as we're moving into the space where we're like setting these boundaries, we're learning about ourselves. We're building that awareness of what brings us stress. And then how do we set these boundaries? What do we do with those narratives that pop up? 


00:28:31    Dr. Aditi

Oh, this is like music to my ears. There is an entire section in my book for silencing the inner critic, because we all have that script. And, you know, exactly like you said, we're socialized to have that script. It's very much tied to the idea of hustle culture and toxic resilience of, you know, never showing weakness or vulnerability and always having to show up no matter what. And embracing our perfectly imperfect selves is, of course, the first step. But ultimately, because I'm a physician, I always get at things like this through the lens of biology. So how is the biology of stress impacting our brains and bodies? It is not our fault, first and foremost. It is just the way your body and brain are designed. We are designed to survive.  And short -term stress is something that our bodies and brains do exceptionally well. It's that when stress becomes chronic and long -term, that's when problems arise. A lot of what we're talking about is what happens with long -term stress that goes on and on in the background. You know, evolutionarily, when we faced a tiger in the forest, our bodies respond really well to that acute stress. It's called the fight or flight response. It's the stress response. But there are no tigers now. We, you know, for, for the majority of the world, the tigers are bills, marital discord, financial challenges, parenting challenges, health challenges. And these aren't just one -time things. There are things that are happening on and on and on. So how do you manage that? Silencing your inner critic. The reason we have an inner critic, again, it's a evolutionary perspective. It's that these, the critic has kept us safe, right? When you look at the research, staying in our comfort zone helps us feel safe. We feel secure. We feel calm. Our fight or flight mechanism is not in overdrive. When we feel a sense of stress is when our fight or flight mechanism goes haywire and our inner critic really shows up because it's a way to keep us safe, but it is dysfunctional. And so the way I get at it is not by directly speaking to that inner critic, because the inner critic is not not a rational voice. It's, it's led by your amygdala, which is a part of our brain. I won't get too scientific, but it's a part of our brain that's purely based on survival and self -preservation instead. So one very helpful technique to silence your inner critic is a gratitude practice. So this is not just, you know, like teenage girl journal, like, Oh, what am I grateful for? But it actually has lots of very clear scientific therapeutic benefits. The way you start a gratitude practice is you write down five things you're grateful for every day and why. Over time, we call this, as you know, we call this cognitive reframing. When you think about the number of good things and bad things that are happening to you, it's pretty equal during the day. When you are under stress, the bad things become very sticky in the brain like Velcro. This is one of Rick Hansen's wonderful analogies, he's a psychologist. And when we feel a sense of danger, like that night watchman is out, we're on red alert, something that's negative is going to stick like glue in our brains. But positive things are happening, and we're not paying attention to those. So when we practice gratitude, when we do a written gratitude practice, I'll tell you a little bit about why we write rather than just think about what we're grateful for. It changes our brain in circuitry. So negative experiences become less sticky. And over time, it has measurable benefits of gratitude practice on mood, resilience, so many factors, of course, stress. And the reason we write down things rather than type on our iPhone, or, you know, say things out loud of what we're grateful for is simply because our brains use a different neural circuitry when we write versus type. So think about when you're going to the grocery store, when you write down what you need on a Post -it. You lose the Post -it, you're still more likely to remember what you need because you wrote it down versus typing it into your iPhone and you leave your phone at home and you're at the grocery store, it's hard to remember, or just thinking about what you need and showing up at the grocery store. So that Post -it, that act of writing down helps us remember. And so one of the first strategies to silencing our inner critic is to practice gratitude. It might feel inauthentic at first because you're feeling stressed and you have, you know, your inner critic is on high alert with a megaphone. So feeling a sense of gratitude isn't natural, it doesn't come easy, but just going through the motions of writing down five things you're grateful for every day and why. It's a 30 to 60 second exercise. And then you check, you know, 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, and you will start noticing that your inner critic is slowly the volume on that dial starts going down. Again, it's not magic, it's just the biology of stress, you are shifting from that fight or flight, high frenetic energy mode, that's called the sympathetic nervous system into the parasympathetic nervous system. But it takes time, it takes practice, it takes consistency, but it doesn't take a lot of time. You know, 60 seconds a day, we all have it. You can spend 60 seconds, put a small notebook next to your nightstand, a pen, and every night as you're going to bed, write down five things you're grateful for and why. I do this. And particularly during periods of high stress, I do it even more. And it helps, you know, those five things can be anything. So there are times when you can think of two things, you have to write down five, there are times you have 10 things you write down five. And some days where you can't even think about anything, you can say, you know, at least I have lungs that I can breathe. I have a roof over my head. I have a bed to sleep in. These are really big things for many people in the world. And you luckily have those. 


00:34:32    Alyssa

I am so grateful for this. Not, no pun intended there. But I'm so grateful for this coming up. Because this is something we've talked about for a long time at S.E.E.D. And I've shared like my gratitude practice over the years. And it's kind of like when I'm really flooded and activated in my amygdala, and I know I just need to like take some deep breaths, but it seems too simple, like annoyingly simple that I'm like, there's no way that that is going to help me in this moment. Like I'm so overwhelmed that deep breaths just won't do the trick. And then I make myself take some deep breaths and I'm like, shoot, it's helping. Like that is it, like turns out it's super effective. And gratitude practice for me is one of those things where, it feels so simple that it feels like, how could this really play a role? And then I have added in like a journal for each kid. That's one line a day, just one. And it shows it over six years. So I can see like, what did I write for Sage last year, and the year before and whatever, just one line of like what was happening at that time. And this falls in line with like my gratitude practice. Because it helps me like there are are some days where, you know, I've just like gotten to bedtime and I'm putting him to bed and I'm like mad at him as he's going to bed. Like I need this to happen. And then as I'm going to bed and I'm go to write in his little one line a day book, and I just have to focus on one thing from today that felt connected or that brought me joy or that I'm grateful for. And there've literally been times where I'm like, I guess like I'm grateful that I get to tuck a healthy child child into bed, right? Like that, that's as far as I can go, because I'm still not jazzed about who you were tonight and how this all went down. But then when I look at those like lines from the years prior, and I'm like, Oh my gosh, remember last year, and it just like warms me up. And all of a sudden, I'm like, Oh, that's right. Last year, he couldn't even like say the word mama yet. And he was still practicing that. And now he's like, Mama, get away. I need space, whatever. Look at how this is going. 


00:36:47    Dr. Aditi

Look at him setting boundaries. 


00:36:49    Alyssa

Exactly. But those things that like small reflective practice, I think is so powerful and so often overlooked. 


00:36:58    Dr. Aditi

You know, it's interesting because we want this like big magical moment with stress, right? Like, oh, I'm going to wave my magic wand and you're not stressed. 


00:37:06    Alyssa

I'm going to quit my job. It's my job. I'm going to get out of this thing. Its that. Yeah, totally. 


00:37:11    Dr. Aditi

In fact, when it comes to our brains and our bodies, it's small incremental changes over time that happen on a consistent basis. And I don't mean consistent 100 % of the time, you know, 70 % or more of the time that really make a difference. And so when it comes to your breathing, for example, that example you gave, I love it. Because again, I also am like, oh, come on, is this really, really going to help. And sure enough, like when I was going through my own stress struggle as a medical resident. And the reason is because our breathing, for example, is the only biological process that is under voluntary and involuntary control. So you and I are talking right now, and we're breathing, and it's under involuntary control, we're just hanging out and our bodies are doing its thing with the breathing center in the brain, and we're breathing. But we could right now take some deep breaths, and our bodies have suddenly shifted to us being in control of our breathing. Our heartbeat can't do that, our digestion can't do that, circulation can't do that. There is no other bodily system in our human body that is under voluntary control by us and then involuntary control by our brains. 


00:38:26    Alyssa

That's so cool. I hadn't thought of that. 


00:38:28    Dr. Aditi

And that is really like the big reason why breathing is so important. And it's really the gateway to helping us manage stress because we can manage it in the moment and we can do things to alter our breathing. So when we are under stress or when we're anxious, we have rapid quick shallow breathing and when we feel-- and that's our fight or flight mechanism, again, it's designed so we have rapid quick breathing and our blood is going to our muscles and to our heart and our lungs and we are going to run away from the tiger or we're going to fight the tiger fight or flight and that is called the stress response. When we are feeling relaxed and mellow like think about at the end of the night you're maybe watching some TV, Netflix, or you're you're just relaxing on the couch, that breathing is totally different. It is deep, shallow breathing and slow. And so what you can do to kind of get accustomed to how you're breathing at different times is just put your hand on your belly and take some deep breaths and feel your belly rise and fall. And that is that deep, relaxed breathing. So in moments of stress, knowing now what you know about how our breath is the only thing that's governed both involuntary and voluntary control, you have the power in those moments of stress to put your hand on your belly or your hand on your heart and take a few deep breaths to start recalibrating your nervous system away from that fight or flight more towards that rest, what we call fight or flight versus rest and digest, those are like the two systems, so moving over to that restful state and that in turn, our brains and our bodies, we can't have the sympathetic on and the parasympathetic on at the same time. We go back and forth. They're mutually exclusive. So when your sympathetic system is on in overdrive, your parasympathetic is quiet. And then when your parasympathetic system is on, your sympathetic system is quiet. And so all of those things working together, the breath, it seems so easy. Like, oh my God, are you kidding me? The breath is going to do nothing. It's not doing everything, of course. I mean, you could still be anxious, you could be stressed. But that runaway train of anxious thoughts and the stress that's like about to leave the station and take off, you can start slowing that down over time in the moment. And then what you could also do is once you get good at stopping that, you know, learning to manage your breath, do a couple of breathing techniques I talk about, I offer like four or five breathing techniques in my book that are helpful for this very reason. And what you can start doing is just noticing your breath. I do that often when I'm parenting, I noticed that I breathe very quickly when I'm trying to, like today rushing to the bus stop. 


00:41:22    Alyssa



00:41:22    Dr. Aditi

You know, it's raining, I'm rushing to the bus stop, I want to make the school bus, right. So instead, I just paused. And I wasn't stressed. I mean, I wasn't overtly stressed. But of course, I was stressed, So I was trying to make sure that, you know, everyone gets on the bus and goes to school on time. I stopped and I did something called stop, breathe and be. You stop, you take a deep breath and you just be. It's three seconds. But again, that is a quick reminder to your brain. Stop. 


00:41:50    Alyssa

Slow it down. Yeah. 


00:41:52    Dr. Aditi

And then you start breathing deeper again and then you keep going. It had no bearing on getting to the bus. And likely, I was happier, calmer, more grounded as we walked to the bus, got on the bus, you know, pouring rain, it could have been a lot more challenging or stressful. And ultimately, because as the parent, I wanted to be calm to keep everyone else calm. It, you know, shifted the perspective. But again, this is like afterward. I mean, that's a good example, because it was this morning, prior to our call, prior to us talking, what 20 plus years of experience? And yet, we all are prey to the slings and arrows of life. 


00:42:31    Alyssa

We all have a nervous system. 


00:42:33    Dr. Aditi

And we're human beings, you know? 


00:42:35    Alyssa

Yeah. Yeah. Oh, I love it so much. If I could just hang out and do this all day with you. I'm so jazzed for folks to get so many tangible tips and practices from your book. It is, y'all, ready for you to snag head on over wherever you get your books and snag the five resets. Like truly, I feel like this is what we need culturally right now. That a lot of the times we're trying to do this like higher level stuff. And we can't do that if we're operating from a place of stress or burnout. And this is so foundational to us being able to just move through the world. So thank you. Thank you for writing it. Thank you for doing this work. And thanks for sharing it with us. 


00:43:22    Dr. Aditi

Thank you, Alyssa. And if people want to learn more about the book or where to get it or learn from me, you can visit or check me out on social media. I try to be as educational as possible. 


00:43:38    Alyssa

I love it. You're a great follow head on over and follow her. Thank you. 


00:43:43    Alyssa

Thanks for tuning in to Voices of Your Village. Check out the transcript at Did you know that we have a special community over on Instagram hanging out every day with more free content? Come join us at, S -E -W. Take a screenshot of you tuning in, share it on the gram and tag to let me know your key takeaway. If you're digging this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. We love collaborating with you to raise emotionally intelligent humans.


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