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Host: Welcome to the Lifelong Wellness podcast, where we talk to wellness professionals from around the world to gain their insights into healthier living. I'm your host, Wes Malik. Today's guest is Dr. Irena Kyd, a retired OB/GYN physician, and current relationship coach and marriage facilitator. She develops techniques that integrate mind and brain work to help high achievers break through limiting mindset barriers. She also works with high-stress individuals. Her techniques address and resolve issues at their core, allowing clients to live stress-free, healthy and fulfilling lives. So, to talk about stress in normal times, and of course in days like these, let's talk to Dr. Irena Kyd. Welcome to the Lifelong Wellness podcast. How are you doing today?
Irena: Hello, Wes. Thank you so much. I'm doing great. How are you? Thank you for having me. I’m happy to be on the phone with you.
Host: I'm very good. We are all experiencing pretty much the same in North America, going through the coronavirus and COVID, with different stages affecting us with our physical health, with our mental health, with our family relationships and the changing dynamics. We're going through a period of change. Have you gone through the same period of change everyone else has or has it been different for you?
Irena: It may have been slightly different for me because I have not been affected as much. Of course, other people are in the midst of it because of something like two of my kids. One of them is living in Brooklyn, which is a huge hotspot and another one is in Los Angeles, which is now becoming a hotspot again. But for me and my husband and our middle son, because he has no work, living out in the boondocks a little bit, have not been impacted as much and I’m very grateful for that. But I can see that all around me people are frantic or stressed out or crazy and going nuts. Sure, there have been changes going on, but I'm thinking some of them were actually beneficial.
Host: So, which ones were beneficial?
Irena: So, we have noticed, even though we are out in the boondocks, there was never much traffic, there was none left, there was no traffic. We noticed the air pollution has gone down, right? We have noticed worldwide that nature is kind of bouncing back because people are not polluting the environment as much as they used to.
Host: Activity has gone down, yes.
Irena: Activity has gone down, the traffic is…You know, the insane traffic in New York City, all of a sudden, you can drive into New York City as a normal human would. But before COVID, you had to drive…What took an hour, a good hour to New York from where we are, you had to do that at 4 in the morning. Otherwise, it would be like twice or three times as long because of the traffic which is crazy. And that makes people nuts, too, because it’s lost time.
Host: Do you think these effects will be long-term?
Irena: I think so. I think so because people all of a sudden noticed, “Hey, you know what? I can work from home just as efficiently as if I have to commute.”
Irena: And actually our youngest son is still working from home and that's the third month, I believe, and it works beautifully. I believe the long-term huge shifts in how people are organizing their businesses as well. Why would we have to pay rent for a thousand people in cubicles if half of them could work from home or even in shifts?
Host: Absolutely. Adversity has, you know taught us, you know, to adapt and to change and that's what we're doing. And going through that shift does elevate everyone’s stress level. The news is stressing everyone out, Irena. Just the thoughts of, you know, relationships have been, you know, pulled thin, you know. There’s a lot of stress. So let's talk about that a little bit.
Host: What exactly is stress? And in a normal day without COVID-19, why is everybody so stressed out?
Irena: I’m thinking right now, you know, what is stress? Stress is when you don't feel like you're in control of your own life. I think that's when you get stressed out when you feel you're steamrolled over by whatever is happening to you. When you can’t handle what's coming at you because you feel totally overwhelmed. Losing control is what gives you stress. Losing control over your daily life is what stresses you out. And the problem is with the whole thing, even before COVID, which was of course additional and gigantic stress because it's life-threatening…
Irena: … is that in our generation, or in the world right now where we are we living in the Western Hemisphere, is that we have impressions bombarding us daily. Though many studies have shown that per day we’re getting as many impressions as our caveman ancestors did over a lifetime. Can you imagine having a lifetime of impressions crammed into one day, and day after day after day?
Irena: That is, you know, you need a lot. Processing, powering your brain everywhere and your emotions and your mental state who handles that.
Host: It's quite the conundrum of handling all that. And are there any techniques or tricks to handle that? Is there any way we can?
Irena: Absolutely. I think in many different ways and not everything, you know, not everything works for everybody. But what I’m saying you’re losing, in other words, how can you get back that control? There you have to let go of a few things and you have to plan for others. But I think what helps with everybody is that you have a clear plan of what you want to do and what your goals are long-term as well as short-term. And that can go to making, you know, a daily list of to-do’s and checking them off.
Host: So basically, setting structure to your life through planning for the short-term and long-term will help you.
Irena: Definitely. That will definitely help you.
Host: So how do I know if stress is affecting me?
Irena: Depends on how you feel. You always ask yourself, “How do I feel? Do I feel frazzled? Do I feel angry? Do I feel on edge?” Then stress is affecting you. If you’re calm, if you’re happy, then stress is not affecting you.
Host: Is it as simple as that? It sounds very simple.
Irena: It is simple. It is as simple as that. The problem that people have is that they don't know how to ask themselves these questions.
Host: Is there a proper way?
Irena: They don’t know how to feel into themselves.
Host: It sounds challenging to actually understand your own self, “How am I feeling?” How can we begin to start that process of asking ourselves?
Irena: You have to take time for yourself and not think it is selfish to do so. Self-care is probably one of the most important things that people need to learn. And when you can take care of yourself, you'll be able to tune into yourself better. So you need to carve out time. When you actually do that, tune into yourself and become calm and, you know, ask yourself, “Is this aligned with what I want?” And the way it is to do… If you take time for someone else, let’s say you have children, you’ll always take time for them. If they come to you, it doesn't matter in the middle of the night, you still take time for them. Or you have maybe a schedule, you know how to bring them to school, you pick them up from school, you have a set schedule of when you have to take care of them. So why would you not be allowed to make the same kind of schedule for yourself?
Host: If we let stress affect us for a long time and we don't address the issues that we have, what are the consequences of long-term stress?
Irena: Like everybody should pretty much know by now long-term stress is a killer, literally a killer. You know, you might not notice but you might get high blood pressure. Guilty as charged right here. I didn’t know. I had no idea. I was fit as a fiddle as a karate instructor, black belt karate.
Irena: You know, student and training, training and karate over the years, every day. Had like 16% body fat was totally fit, go for a check-up for teeth, I have high blood pressure. Even my doctor goes, “What? You?”. Yes. Chronic stress can give you high blood pressure. Once you have high blood pressure, you get the whole other crap. You can get a heart attack, you can get a stroke, you can even get diabetes, you can even get cancer from stress.
Irena: Not good.
Host: That is very alarming. It is very alerting. It might be personal reasons or personal issues that might be causing your stress. But were things, like general things, causing you stress that stressed people out every day like normal things, or was it very different for you?
Irena: I didn’t even know I was stressed out, that’s the crazy thing. You know, it was probably what you call normal things but too many of that. I was working at a hospital, and I had four children at that point, now I have five. I had four kids, I was working at a hospital about 60 hours a week, was still doing the full household, was still taking care of the kids. I just had a babysitter. So, I was basically working until midnight, from six in the morning until midnight full tilt. And that was simply too much. It was like the normal things, but too much of it. And actually, you know, under these circumstances our marriage suffered as well. That was the stress, but I felt I could handle it all.
Host: So work-related and normal stress that people generally go through. What did you do about it? And what can everyone else do about stress and reducing stress and reducing the long-term effects of it and the short-term effects of it?
Irena: Well, the first thing is you have to be aware that you are in a place where you are stressed out and you need to do something about that. At that point, yes, give yourself time, schedule yourself time to either…You know, you can do the meditation stuff, that works short-term. Or you have to just get yourself into a routine where you take care of yourself routinely until you find a place where you can actually be happy and you can be happy every day. That is a possibility. People can be happy every day. I know because I’m living it. (laughing)
Host: Right. You say that meditation and affirmations only work short-term. Why is that?
Irena: Because of the problem with meditation and affirmations, but let’s say, stress-related. When I’m saying meditation, it's just getting into that calm space where you can calm down your nervous system. That’s perfectly fine and short-term that absolutely works. And if you can do this 20 times a day that would be wonderful, but nobody has that time. In the long term, what you have to try to find out what stuff stresses you out. And can you avoid these situations? And, you know, sometimes we always say “Life is happening to us” instead of “Life is happening for us”. So if you can get out of that mode of being almost the victim of circumstances and take back control, this is when you get on top of your stress. Problem is that life, you can say, “Oh, I could say life is happening for me, but I don’t see it that way. I did not choose these circumstances, like right now, COVID, right? I did not choose that. How can I come to get to control that?” You can’t.
Irena: But you can control your attitude to it. Now, there’s another problem with that and that’s the underlying saboteur within you and that is your subconscious mind. And this now starts to sound very woo, Wes, right?
Host: Right. (laughing) So, explain how the subconscious will affect that?
Irena: Okay. The subconscious mind is not some entity out there in the universe, some blue walls kind of thing. The subconscious mind is anchored in your brain. There are neural pathways in your brain, that is like the Operating System on a computer. You don't really see what's going on back there. You’ll only see on the surface. What you can see on your monitor, that is the conscious mind. That is what you have in your prefrontal cortex, right behind your forehead. Everything else in the brain is interconnected with neural pathways that happen to establish from day one or even while you are in the womb. And if you are going farther back with ancestral imprints, that’s via your DNA and that's a real thing. That's what Neuroscience showed us. The subconscious mind is about a thousand times as powerful as the conscious mind. So you have these beliefs anchored within your subconscious mind that you don't even know of. Or even if you do, you don’t know how to address them because your conscious mind is not strong enough to do that. Will power simply won't cut it.
Host: So what will?
Irena: Addressing the subconscious mind correctly.
Host: Okay. Is there a specific technique for that? How do we address our subconscious mind directly?
Irena: There are very different…There are as many different techniques just like hypnosis, I'm sure everybody knows about hypnosis. And you can address the subconscious mind.
Irena: I have thought, heard about from people, I learned from people that when they go to therapy and they do the talk therapy, that always, most of the time happens on at the conscious level and only dips times and times rarely into the subconscious level. But there are other techniques that go directly into the subconscious mind and let the subconscious mind talk to you if you want. There’s like post-therapy, voice dialogue, memory consolidation, all these techniques. And that's what I'm using today in my coaching.
Host: Now, in your coaching, you help high achievers breakthrough limiting mindset barriers.
Host: And I’m not aware that I have limits to my thinking or mindset barrier. I'm not aware of that.
Host: Does everyone have a mindset barrier? Or do like people like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, they don't have limits that's why they're so successful. Is that the thing?
Irena: Yes. That's probably exactly the thing. And I’m not saying they don’t have any limiting beliefs because, you know, certainly they do, but not the same ones that other people have. 97% of the human population has limiting beliefs. They’re all based in fear and only 3% of people and I’m guessing Elon Musk just like Steve Jobs, these people are, you know, all of these that are famous, Oprah Winfrey, do not have those fears. Some of these fear-based beliefs are not going above and beyond, and going into the unknown.
Irena: But the people like me, 97%, we do have these limiting beliefs and they've been instilled into us by our parents who have them and who would be afraid again, it’s fear-based, who would be afraid that if we don't have them we would not be able to function in the society and would not be able to be successful as a human being.
Host: Is there a way to overcome this?
Irena: There is. The same way I said before, you talk to your subconscious mind. The thing is this, you don't really know what it is that can hold you back. We only see the consequences. In other words, the people I coach with, the high achievers that I coach would say something like, “I don't know. I have an issue with making a decision. Could you help me? What decisions should I make on this? I don’t know. Why I can’t…” And then you start digging and digging and digging until you get to the very core. And I have one client who was, “If I make a decision, people get hurt”.
Irena: And he didn’t have a track record of hurting people with his decisions, you know? But it is there, the subconscious mind.
Host: So it was this fear that he might hurt people that's why he would, you know, take different decisions or not make decisions.
Irena: Right and he would procrastinate.
Host: Right. It's kind of negative thoughts that hinder us from our full potential.
Host: How can we address those negative thought patterns?
Irena: That is the issue is that the negative thought patterns is because the human brain has a bias to the negative. It had to have that from, you know, we’re talking about the caveman ancestors. They have to always be on their toes. So, they either be to make sure that they don’t get clobbered by an enemy tribe or nature didn’t get them or they’re always in danger. They have to make sure that they were surviving. So the negative bias is so strong even in today’s humans because we still have the ancestral brains. Civilizations just ran away but evolution didn’t catch up. That we would actually need five positive thoughts for one negative to be washed.
Irena: In other words, you know, how many more positive thoughts you would need. Yes. But just think about this, how much easier when somebody believes if they will tell you or you hear from somebody, “This person doesn't really like you”. You would believe that right away and feel, “Oh, my God. What did I do? What did I do?” Instead of somebody telling you, “Oh, I love you”.
Irena: You’re very cautious. Do you ever remember dating at one point? When you were very cautious of saying these words because you didn’t want to not get it, not hear it back.
Host: Exactly. You’d be afraid. Like, you know, what if the person doesn’t really reciprocate.
Irena: You’d be afraid.
Host: Yes. Exactly.
Irena: Exactly. There you go.
Host: Alright. So…
Irena: You would be afraid.
Host: This is common in pretty much every human being. There are very few human beings who are opposites to this. So, is there hope for everyone or anyone even if we’re like, you know, a little older?
Irena: Absolutely. Because that’s again what cutting edge Neuroscience showed is that we have the ability with our thoughts to change those brain patterns. A brain is not set in stone. At any age, it doesn't matter how old you are and I do have a client who is 78 years old now. We’re digging back down, way back down into a horrible childhood and he's able to release a lot of stuff and change his behavior accordingly. That is the great power we have, ourselves. This calls for a celebration it’s like, “Wow! I can still do that? It doesn’t matter how old I am. That’s amazing”. And if you can change yourself in a positive way and the way you want to feel everybody around you will be affected, too. Your spouse, your kids, your friends, anybody, right? Positivity is also contagious.
Host: Yes, it is.
Irena: Not as contagious as negativity but it is. (laughing)
Host: It is. (laughing) Positivity is very contagious. Sometimes, you know, you're sitting in a conference room with, you know, 5 or 10 people and there’ll be one person who’ll just open the door and be like, “Hello everybody!” and the room will light up. And positivity can be very contagious and everyone will get that energy and feed off that person just very naturally, it happens.
Irena: Absolutely because we crave it so much. That’s what is like one of the fundamental cravings that people have is to belong to a group where they’re welcome.
Irena: It’s like you’re going into Starbucks and you smile at the barista, you know, they’ll smile back and they would go above and beyond to do even the craziest thing for you. You go in there with a sour face, you’ll feel the resistance
Host: Absolutely. (laughing) I can testify to this because I have a daily radio show and we bring nothing but positivity to our listeners and that's it. And even though, you know, without face-to-face communication, just through radio, just through voice, we can, you know, we can transfer that positivity. And many people write to me every single day and message me every single day saying, “We don't know what you do and how you do it, but you make us feel good” and it's all about being positive. You feel positive on the inside, you speak the positive language and you come out with a positive attitude and that really does transcend from person-to-person to, even a public setting, a public group. So, just thought I'd add that. Now…
Irena: Oh, yes, you’re doing amazing work. You know, seriously this is so needed because whenever, you know, just check the news it’s all negative. They all feed off that, knowing that the negative bias is something that sells. So somebody who does the positive and actually affects people positively, we may need many more of you, Wes. (laughing)
Host: We’re all on radio and television, I think, or TikTok or Instagram. There's a lot of people who spread positivity. (laughing) Irena, thank you but here's a…You help a lot of different people and you help a lot of people going through a lot of tough times through your, through your coaching and through your counseling. You also give, you know, like a complimentary breakthrough session for free.
Host: How can we, how can we get in touch with you?
Irena: Well, there are a few different ways. I mean, I do have a website, my main website which is ultimatesuccessmindset.com. If you just put that into the browser you actually get to, you get to a little…So I have a free gift for everybody if they go to ultimatesuccessmindset.com which is actually a PDF about seven mindset hacks for top-performers. So from millionaires in the business. And if you’re not in a business setting and would maybe want to just address stress, I do have a stress quiz for you and I tried to shorten that. (laughing) It’s either ultimatesuccessmindset.com/stressquiz or you can go to Bickley/ultimatestressquiz and you get to that quiz. And you get the suggestions also on what to do about, you know, I have the questions on “What do you think about this?”, “What are you doing in that situation?” and the suggestions on what you could do.
Host: That’s great. I wanted to check it out already. That's ultimatesuccessmindset.com.
Host: Fantastic. And how about, do people get in touch with you via email or just the website?
Irena: On the website, you have the contact form, you can email me from there.
Irena: Same with the stress quiz and they can actually… If you do the stress quiz which is ultimatesuccessmindset.com/stressquiz, you will have the option to directly book a call with me. I have a calendar up there for you.
Host: Oh, really?
Irena: For a 15-minute free breakthrough session.
Host: How convenient. That is fantastic.
Host: So, we talked about stress, managing it, you know, subconscious, all these things. Do you have any tips or any tricks that sometimes when we feel stressed out we get flustered, you know, we can't respond to, you know, somebody's question? We feel very, very bad. We get in a very cranky mood. Is there like a tip or trick that you have to counter that if we experience that?
Irena: Yes, definitely. It sounds corny, but really breathing helps a lot. And I have learned this from somebody who does acupuncture and acupressure. If you’re stressed out, everybody who’s stressed out will breathe very shallow, it’s just chest breathing. If you just take the time to breathe deeply all the way down, so your diaphragm goes all the way down your belly expands. What they’re saying is the energy and the body moves differently, goes down all the way to your kidneys and everything else can flow again because it's really true. Although if not again it sounds woo woo, energy has to flow in your body everywhere. And that’s the way you could do it. If you’re in a stressful situation… You know, if you are in a, let’s say, an office setting and you have to give an answer, you’re on the spot, deep breaths, one or two and then do it, collect yourself, people will wait for you. If you can get outside, even better. Nature is something that really calms people down. There are studies showing that people who live in green areas are happier than others.
Irena: So, if you can see that or if you can, you know, like in an urban jungle have plants in your office, that helps. So the deep breathing helps and the yawning, if you can yawn, you can go to the bathroom and go yawn, you can even fake yawning…
Irena: Literally, literally cool your brain down.
Host: Wow! Okay.
Host: Very nice.
Irena: So if you do deep yawns, fake yawns even. And another one, a physical one is stretching. Just a few simple stretching, stretch to the sky, stretch straight ahead and stretch them to the ground.
Host: A while ago we did talk about, you know, how our mindset limits us and there's a limiting mindset. I actually truly believe in that and I try to work on myself. It doesn't work that well. You know, maybe I need a… (laughing)
Irena: It’s very hard to work on yourself without a guide.
Host: Yes. Maybe I need your help or some very professional person’s help but…
Host: But I do want to break that barrier and I want to get into that, you know, the limitless mindset where I believe, where I can think something that I believe I can do it, no, actually accomplish it rather than saying, “Oh, I can’t do this. I can’t be the best at this or the best at that”.
Host: If you could give me like a tip or trick like a mind hack right now, what would you tell me?
Irena: The issue is you are in your own brain in these pathways. And you can imagine that being like a train running on its tracks and it sees a track next to it, you’re on this train you want to be on the other track, you need to switch. Where is that switch? This is why the self-work is so much than doing the work with the guide. You know, when somebody can guide you because this is another brain there that can show you something that you may have not even thought of because it's simply what is called the difference. It’s a different angle. I’m going to look up things like, “Oh, I’ve never thought of it that way”. No, because you couldn’t. Your brain literally could not. It does not have those pathways.
Host: Like it's impossible to imagine that even.
Irena: It’s impossible to imagine that if you haven't seen it or read it or heard it from somebody else. It’s like, do you remember that thing where they, I forgot what toy that was that landed on the South American coast and they had never seen ships. They simply wouldn’t see them? Their shaman was able to.
Host: The empire. The Mayans?
Irena: Yes. They couldn’t see, I think it was I forgot who it was, like the European ships that were landing on their shores and that they were anchored before, you know, the big clippers were anchored out there.
Irena: They couldn’t see them because their mind would refuse or their brain would refuse to acknowledge that there’s something there.
Irena: Because they have never seen anything like that before. Then obviously after the shaman saw them and told them, “Oh, that’s true. There is something there”. And that’s the same way. So, if you want to try to influence your own brain to go your own barriers, I think the best way to do it, if you’re not having a professional help you, is to see for other people who did what you have done and follow their example. Sorry, for what you want to do and follow their example. How did they do it? Somebody else did it. You know, remember Bannister in the “4 Minute Mile”?
Irena: After that, people were able to do it as well. Before that it was impossible. Nobody can run a 4-minute mile. Nobody. But once he did it, it was possible after all.
Host: Yes. Exactly.
Host: That is wonderful. That is a wonderful trip and it's a wonderful mind hack. You know, even if we get help or if we don't get help, at least this conversation helps me and helps our listeners a little bit. Irena Kyd, thank you so much for being on the Lifelong Wellness podcast today and I hope you stay safe in the New York State area. And once again you're reachable at ultimatesuccessmindset.com.
Irena: That’s right and thank you so much, Wes, for having me. And thank you it’s good to work you’re doing. We need the positivity so keep it up, please. (laughing)
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