Crystal O’Keefe: Welcome to the MetPro Method Podcast. I am your host, Crystal O’Keefe, and today I am joined by Dr. Jenn Mann. Dr. Mann is a licensed marriage, family, and child therapist and sports psychology consultant. You may know her from VH1 Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn or VH1’s Family Therapy with Dr. Jenn or her long-running radio show called the Dr. Jenn Show.
She’s also written. Four bestselling books, including The Relationship Fix, Dr. Jenn’s Six Step Guide to Improving Communication, connection and Intimacy. Dr. Jenn, thank you so much for being here today.
Dr. Jenn Mann: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here with you. Always.
Crystal O’Keefe: I am super excited to discuss mental health.
It’s May, it’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and I feel like sometimes people don’t realize how it can affect all aspects of your life, anytime you’re dealing with something, with mental illness of any kind. So I thought we could talk about that today about how specifically it can affect things like your workouts or maybe your meal plans, things that you’re working on for your health goals for yourself.
One of the questions I had for you is that there’s this huge range of topics that are included in mental health, but even things that are considered common like anxiety or depression, people can struggle to hit their goals, including me. So when people are taking on new challenges, do you have tips on things that they should consider if they know that they’re already battling some kind of mental health issue?
Dr. Jenn Mann:Well, the first thing is that if you’re battling some kind of mental health issue, get the support, get therapy, and a lot of the time people say to me, well, not everyone can afford therapy.
Absolutely, that’s true. But what most people don’t realize that their mental health clinics all around this country, in order to become a licensed therapist, every therapist has to do 3000 hours under supervision. Most of those hours they do for free. Or a very low fee. So pretty much everyone who becomes licensed works in mental health clinics.
And when you go to a clinic, you might say, well, then I’m getting someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Well, that’s not the case. They have to be supervised by someone who has at least two years’ experience post licensure. So, you basically get two eyeballs on your case, which is actually like way be, you’re in like double your money.
You’re getting someone who’s new to the field. And those people tend to be super enthusiastic, do tons of research, and be very worried that they don’t want to do anything wrong. So, getting an intern, well one might say, okay, well that person’s not that experienced. They tend to be at a point in their career where they tend to be at their most obsessive and research-oriented and really focus on their clients.
So, it’s a great thing. So really making sure that you get the support you need, getting therapy, um, also reaching out to your support system. Being able to say to whatever friends are compassionate and kind, or relatives or partners you may have, or even adult children to say like, “Hey, I’m really struggling. Could we go out to dinner? Could we go for a run together? Could we make a plan together? Could we talk to each other, you know, at this certain time of day?”
That tends to be really tough for me. So really kind of bringing and getting support professionally, getting support in terms of your support system, and then also setting up your life to succeed to really do an evaluation of like, where am I struggling?
You know, there a lot of the time it’s first thing in the morning or last thing at night. If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, that tends to be when it hits the most, aside from kind of specific trigger events. And nighttime, in particular, tends to be a time when we are in our own head, like where we’re kind of left with our own thoughts.
And if you’re someone who is anxious or obsessive or tend to kind of overthink things. This can be a real difficult time for you. So, putting into place some things that you can do with that mental energy that are positive. This is a great time to do a creative project if you know how to paint, if you like to work with clay, if you like to write poetry, if you like to do crossword puzzle, like anything that is.
Relaxing and fun and not work related. You know, obviously we all have our brain candy shows, which are also great at that time of night, but I don’t love screen time right before you go to sleep, because the blue light can trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime instead of nighttime. So, I really like for there to be other activities.
Also, reading is a is a great thing. You can read The Relationship Fix, my book, or something else, or do something that is like adult coloring books are terrific right now. Anything that gets your mind focused on something else is really positive. So those are really key things, but also when it comes to your workout and your meal plan, set things up in advance.
If you know mornings are trouble for you, make sure you put out your workout clothes the night before. Make sure you know what your workout plan is, because if it comes to that moment and you’re like, oh, what am I going to do? It’s easy to not do anything rather than make a decision when you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious or depressed.
So have something. Already set up, make your plan the night before and also sometimes then you look forward to it. You know, pick as you know from being my running partner, I’m very music focused on my workouts. Yes. So, I know if I have like a Peloton class where a certain song is being played, like I’ll look forward to it, like a total Peloton geek the night before, I’ll be like, oh, I can’t wait to run to that song.
Like if I’m really struggling to get my butt on the tread, like that’s gonna help me. So, putting out clothes before, making sure you know what your workout is going to be, making sure that you have food available. If you have a meal plan, make sure you’ve done whatever food prep that you need to do that.
You have some backup meals. If, let’s say you’ve run out of steam, you’d forgot to meal prep, have a list of restaurants and things that you like to order, that after you eat them, you still feel good. That are consistent with your goals, that, that are positive, that are healthy, that give you energy that after you do that, then you’re not going to be like, oh crap I really screwed up on my meal plan or what I thought I was going to eat, or anything like that. So really kind of preparation is the key support and preparation.
Crystal O’Keefe: Wow. So many excellent ideas there as always. Uh, um, so, you know, you talk a lot about getting the support and I, by the way, totally agree. I am a huge, as, you know, advocate of, of therapy, but sometimes I hear people talk about like the stigma related to therapy or mental health in general.
Do you have any thoughts for people out there that maybe are a little scared of therapy, like maybe that’s what’s holding them back.
Dr. Jenn Mann: Sure. No, that’s a great question. And you know, look, one of the things that my show VH1 Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn and Family Therapy with Dr. Jenn, one of the things that I really love about that experience is that the feedback I got from a lot of people is, that those shows took a lot of the stigma away that to watch all these celebrities do therapy, to watch people in underserved communities that don’t normally get therapy, do therapy.
You know, when I did therapy with DMX, I had a lot of people reach out to me from that community saying like, “You know what? I never thought therapy was an option to me, but I’m a black man and I saw you doing therapy with DMX and made me go, wow, maybe that’s something that I should be thinking about.”
Or maybe that doesn’t have the stigma or maybe it is good for me to do, and that was something that was a great experience. If you are someone who thinks that something is wrong with therapy or only crazy people do therapy. Let me break that stigma right now. That’s not the case. Like I don’t have anyone in my practice who is crazy.
I have people who struggle with different issues and most therapists are like that. You know, most of the people I see are like me, garden variety neurotics who wanna learn skills and tools and want to better their life. And while there’s the full gamut of things that get you into therapy and there’s trauma and stuff like that, one of the things that people don’t realize is that when you’ve had trauma, and you have these reactions to trauma that seem crazy.
You are not crazy. You’ve experienced something that’s crazy and you’re having a normal reaction to that horrible thing that happened to you. Our brains are wired to react to trauma in certain ways, and so there’s nothing wrong with you. Your brain is responding in the way that we respond to trauma.
It’s like saying, oh, if I sprained my ankle, my ankle is swollen. Oh, there’s something terribly wrong with me that my ankle has swollen. Well, no, what’s wrong is that you sprained your ankle. The swelling is a response to that. It’s indicative that there’s something wrong that needs to be addressed.
Crystal O’Keefe: Oh, what a great point.
Dr. Jenn Mann: It’s the same thing with mental health, that you can’t beat yourself up for having a normal reaction to abnormal events. But what you do need to do is to make sure that you take care of it because you can’t control what happened to you. What you can control is whether or not you deal with it and how you deal with it, and also how much it impacts your relationships with people who you love, because they tend to be the ones that bear the burden of the work we didn’t do.
Crystal O’Keefe: Wow. Very powerful. I feel like that brings up another question for me and that is that like when people are struggling and, maybe they’re not even sure, like, “Oh, do I need to go to therapy?” They’re still working through that whole process. Is there kind of like an order of operations before somebody takes on a big goal?
Like maybe it’s something like, I want to run a marathon. Maybe it’s, I want to lose 50 pounds, whatever it is. Is there something they should like do a self-assessment or something like that before they jump in?
Dr. Jenn Mann:I believe that everyone should have one year of weekly therapy, whether you’ve had trauma or not.
So, to me, I don’t think that there’s anyone who doesn’t benefit from having a neutral person. Give them feedback, offer them tools, help them to really assess their life and figure out like, where could I be doing better? Where could I improve self-care? Where could I have better communication? I think we all have room to improve.
So to me it isn’t that you have to meet some kind of threshold to start therapy. I think everyone could benefit from it, and everyone should have at least a year of it. If you’re someone who’s had trauma and that makes you more resistant or more scared, therapy’s scary, but you’ve dealt with scary things.
If you’ve had trauma, you’ve dealt with scary things, and the best thing that you can do is to give yourself the gift of working through that.
Crystal O’Keefe:: Wow. So yeah, I had never thought about that before that like, almost like a tune-up like you would for a car or something else. Like, just go get a checkup kind of thing.
Dr. Jenn Mann:And also it’s even more than a checkup. It’s required when we go to school, we have to do years of therapy, pretty much like we have to do a certain number of hours of our own individual therapy. And I still do therapy. I’ve had therapy for decades. And I think that there’s always room for improvement.
And like I’m always looking, okay, where can I communicate better? Where can I be more self-reflective? Where can I improve? And I think that’s, a really important part of being a human being. And I think most of the people who listen to any one of your podcasts are people who are growth-oriented people.
They want to be healthier, they want to be better, they want to improve their lives, and therapy is really a key way to do that.
Crystal O’Keefe: I absolutely agree. Do you have anything about mental health that you have heard over the years that you wish more people knew the truth about?
Dr. Jenn Mann:Anything about mental health? That I wish people, I mean really just that I think everyone can benefit from therapy. You know, just kind of my stance that everyone benefits from one year of weekly therapy. And I think, the more resistant we are to therapy, the more we probably need it.
Crystal O’Keefe: Just like whenever you want to do a workout, the thing that you hate the most is probably the thing you need the most.
Dr. Jenn Mann:Exactly, exactly. Hello, squats.
Crystal O’Keefe: Yes, for sure. And lunge jumps. Yeah. Well, Dr. Jenn, I think you summed it up well, uh, thank you so much for your time today. Before we let you go, please let our audience know where they can find you.
Dr. Jenn Mann: You can find me at all social media at Dr. Jenn Mann. Two N’s on Jenn, two N’s on Mann, and also I have an app called No More Diets, that’s all about how to make peace with food.
Crystal O’Keefe: Well, listeners, that’s that is all for this week. She summed it up so perfectly. You can find all of the MetPro Method episodes anywhere you get podcasts, or you can go to MetPro.co/podcast.
Please be sure to follow the show and rate and review that lets other people know what they can expect. You can also learn more about MetPro@metpro.co. I’m your host, Crystal O’Keefe, and I’ll be back next week. Until then, remember, consistency is key.