Episode 22 Simple Holistic Habits for Overall Wellness with Gennifer Morley

Aug 4, 2021

What does holistic wellness look like? How can different types of exercise positively aid the body and mind in different ways? Why should you pause?

MEET GENNIFER MORLEY

Gen is the owner of North Boulder Counseling, a thriving group therapy practice in Boulder, CO which specializes in anxiety at all ages. She is a Licensed Practicing Counselor and has spent her life outside and is curious about the human experience. Gen’s goal in life is to promote freedom from anxiety and fear for as many people as possible. Gen is wildly and lovingly, disarming. With Gen, you will laugh, think and play every time. She is also a triathlete and a very low runner.

Visit her website. Connect on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Find candid and relatable videos on mindfulness, meditation, and holistic lifestyles changes that are accessible here.

IN THIS PODCAST:

  • What is holistic?
  • Exercise advice
  • Mindfulness

WHAT IS HOLISTIC

Having a holistic outlook on your therapy, habits, and overall life practices means simply look at the entire picture.

Being holistic and working holistically means observing how everything impacts everything else.

This is why holistic counseling will not only look at which emotional issues someone is dealing with, but will also look at what a person’s eating, exercise, and daily habits are because they too have an overall impact on someone’s health.

EXERCISE ADVICE

Recent findings suggest that people who are anxious prefer to do weight training and people who are depressed may prefer to do cardio.

To really oversimplify her research, what she has found is that cardio is very good for depression and weight-training is really good for anxiety. (Gennifer Morley)

Lifting heavy weights forces you to go slow and focus on controlled, deeper breathing. In turn, this can greatly benefit someone who may be struggling with anxiety and who is always running on a fast-paced cycle.

If you are hyper-aroused or stimulated, doing a hypo-activity like weight training and deep breathing can be soothing to the nervous system.

Conversely, if someone is in a depression, doing cardio and running, swimming, or even going for a brisk walk can ramp up the body’s functions and release happy hormones.

When it gets to where your muscles burn, it releases all kinds of endorphins but the research my friend is doing is actually talking about specifically about what neurochemicals get released … we’re not talking about getting cute, we’re talking about using exercise specifically in place of medication because its going to make chemicals go in your brain that are exactly what you need. (Gennifer Morley)

MINDFULNESS

A pragmatic way of looking at holistic wellness and mindfulness is to practice becoming aware of when you are not doing okay, and on the other hand, when you are doing okay.

When you are on your healing journey, the first step is noticing when you are not doing so well and pausing the story in your head that your ego might try to tell you as to why you are not doing good. Simply notice pause, and take a little moment to be with yourself.

The pause can be merciful.

Even after a difficult event, you can still pause and retroactively care for yourself. All of this work relates to building your neuroplasticity skills and helps you to change your mindset and approach to yourself so that you can be kinder, more empathetic, and reach the highest version of yourself.

Connect With Me

Resources Mentioned And Useful Links:

Transcript

[CHRIS McDONALD]

The Holistic Counseling Podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like Behind the Bite, Full of Shift and Impact Driven Leader, go to www.practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Welcome to the Holistic Counseling Podcast, where you discover diverse wellness modalities, advice on growing your integrative practice, and grow confidence in being your unique self. I'm your host, Chris McDonald. I'm so glad you're here for the journey.

Welcome to another episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast. I'm your host, Chris MacDonald. I'm excited to bring you today's guest. Her name is Gennifer Morley and she is owner of North Boulder Counseling, a thriving group therapy practice in Boulder, Colorado, which specializes in anxiety at all ages. She is a licensed practicing counselor and has spent her life outside and curious about the human experience. Gen's goal in life is to promote freedom from anxiety and fear for as many people as possible. Gen is wildly and lovingly disarming. With Gen, you will laugh, think and play every time. She has also a triathlete and a very slow runner. Welcome to the Holistic Counseling Podcast, gen.

[GENIFFER MORLEY]

Thanks Chris. I'm so psyched to be here. I appreciate you having me.

[CHRIS]

Yes. Can you share a little bit more about yourself and your work?

[GENIFFER]

Sure. So I started out doing my own therapy, like most people, and then I grew into a group practice. My individual work and the work that I promote inside my practice with all of my practitioners and clinicians is really, I think people, we get muddled in being confused about where we're at and whether we're okay inside of our suffering. So really the base of freeing ourselves from suffering and fear. And sometimes there's really pragmatic things, but a lot of times it's realizing that it's just okay to have this fear. I know that might sound strange, but maybe as we keep going, it will get more clear. I actually just had someone call this morning who was like, "I'm really worried about the day and I'm upset," and they're grieving a divorce and really what was most helpful for them was to arrive at oh, being this sad is perfectly appropriate. So I can be sad if I'm not afraid of being sad.

[CHRIS]

So normalizing that too?

[GENIFFER]

Yes, and giving ourselves just kind of a way to say, wow, the human experience is this big and it's not that I'm messing it up.

[CHRIS]

Exactly. No, I love that. That's perfect. I saw on your website you started out in the medical field.

[GENIFFER]

Yes. So in undergrad, I wanted to do wilderness therapy and then I realized I didn't, all the people I knew who did wilderness therapy at that time lived in a truck and did a lot of camping even when they weren't working. And I thought, I want to have a house and an income that's reliable. I think wilderness is a little different now, but so then I said, I'm going to go be a doctor. So I applied to a medical post-grad pre-med and I was doing that and I was working in hospitals and I was playing the medical school and I just had this epiphany. A bunch of things happened in my life and had made me recalculate and I just one day said, I love going to the hospital. I loved working in the hospital. I worked in the emergency room and I was like, what do I love about it? What do I love about it? And I realized it was being with people in their hard times and staying with them and helping that work for them and helping them find their own way through it. And I was like, "Oh, that's therapy."

[CHRIS]

So you were at a crossroads. There is that when you decided that you're going to try to move more in that direction?

[GENIFFER]

Yes. I really didn't want to be too groovy, hippie dippy. And I was like, I am going to do ---

[CHRIS]

Nothing is wrong in being too groovy.

[GENIFFER]

Well, it turns out as I matured into myself, I realized you can only be a zebra if you're a zebra. So you can't be a horse, can't change your stripes. So I was busting my tail to get into these medical schools and I worked harder on that than anything I ever did. And I would get fine grades and fine assessments, but it was like, I've called it my unrequited love. I loved chemistry and it didn't love me back. So no matter how hard I worked, it was like myself telling me this isn't like your natural path. You're sort of swimming upstream. And I have my high school assessment where they did an aptitude assessments in high school. I don't know if they still did those. It said I should be a mental health counselor. I went for undergrad to be a mental health counselor. Then I had this whole thing of, this is a silly path. I don't want to be all touchy, feely, and I didn't ever want to be, it's just not my character to be like, oh, what are you doing? Like the soft voice talking therapist. And I really didn't have another model. But when I got true to myself that really, I think therapy is my call, I also told myself that I would make sure that I did it in a way that was really real to me instead of what I felt was kind with a therapist?

[CHRIS]

So finding your true voice and what that is as a therapist.

[GENIFFER]

Yes. And just having faith that like, somebody is going to want that. Because if you go off as that you have to be like, somebody is over here where I'm running off the path.

[CHRIS]

Exactly. And I know that we were talking before I hit record too, that you're a more holistic therapist as well. So what made you interested in more of the holistic side of things?

[GENIFFER]

Well, I think so, actually I didn't actually plan to totally talk about this, but I had been introduced to Buddhism in high school. I grew up Catholic. We were Christmas and Easter Catholic and in our family guilt and shame Catholic. It was kind of fine, but it wasn't like really bringing meaning to my life. I was introduced to Taoism and then Buddhism and I thought, this is it. I can feel all the way my whole compass is pointing to yes, with this. And then, actually, my mother passed away pretty early. I was a freshman in college and between hiking and meditation, it really, it was my life raft. It was this really merciful thing that I found meaning and I found not an escape, but a way through. So I knew by moving my body, by being outside, by trying to be as honest about what was happening, knowing that nothing that was happening could possibly be wrong and then sitting in the kind of meditation that I did, I sat with the experience.

It made something that should have been intolerable incredibly painful, but also enlightening both at the same time. I honestly, I hate kind of words like that. It's like dressing up a turd. It's like, awful. It's horrible. And at the same time, there's no way around it. And if you started to go through it, these are the ways that I found not only to get through it, but when you come out the other side, there was some things that I had that were indescribable. And I don't imagine I could have gotten them before. There's a bunch of research about post-traumatic growth. We've hear about post-traumatic stress all the time. But I think in the early two thousands is when this started, there's a fair amount of research into the growth that comes out of trauma.

[CHRIS]

Yes, I don't think that's talked about enough, is it?

[GENIFFER]

No, I think, I don't know if you get this, but I get quite a few people who report, because of their trauma, they feel permanently broken, a discounted item, a second. And I think that comes out of really not understanding from that often comes growth. It doesn't mean if you grew, it was great and it didn't hurt. You know, it probably hurt unimaginably.

[CHRIS]

Yes, it's not minimizing.

[GENIFFER]

Right, it's both things. It's not one or the other. So those are the ways that I have found to be able to, when things feel bigger than is possible to digest in any moment. Exercising, being outside and meditation are the things that make it for me and the people that I work with able to just do one more bit at a time, because you have to break it up into pieces when it's enormous. So all you have to do is just find something that's right. I call it the sample Baskin Robbins, to go get a sample, to give you the tiny spoon. So when you have a huge thing in front of you, these are the things where it helps you just be like, it is possible for me to just take the scoop that I can handle right now.

[CHRIS]

And not the whole container.

[GENIFFER]

Right. I don't want it all. I just want the bit that I can do right now and then I'm going to rest and I'll do a little bit. And then that way eventually the whole pile is gone.

[CHRIS]

I think that's a great analogy to really help clients to think about trauma that way and to work through it. Because I think some are just get so overwhelmed at the whole thought of it and the whole process and almost that open view of like, I have to do it all at once.

[GENIFFER]

Right. Well, and it's going to swallow me. I think it can feel like the really big stuff is going to come and get you.

[CHRIS]

So can you talk about your experience with meditation and your training?

[GENIFFER]

Sure. I think I had a teacher in high school teach me initially and then I got much more regimented. After my mom passed away I actually ended up dating a guy in high school whose whole family were monks. So he was not a monk, but his brother and I think his sister were both robed monks and we would, in that relationship, I was in that relationship for a year and even when I wasn't in it, it was probably two years that I meditated every single day, even if I was, I think I was 19 or 20. So sometimes I was getting home at 2:00 AM, but I wouldn't go to bed without meditating for at least 30 minutes.

[CHRIS]

That's impressive.

[GENIFFER]

Yes. And it became something really, it was a gift to myself. So in that particular lineage of Buddhism, you set out gifts for Buddha. So you put the most beautiful water and you put the most beautiful incense and you put maybe flowers and sweet food and you set this all out. And initially, I was young, I was like, "Oh, this is so nice." We were like being generous but I realized what it was, setting the stage to give this really pristine, clean beauty to myself. And I would just sit in the stillness with the intention of the most pure water and the most beautiful smells and things like the Swedish chocolates. And I would sit there with them and I would meditate for 30 minutes and then I would go to bed but then every time you meditate, you refresh all that. You repour the water and you put like another chocolate. And then it was kind of sweet too, because if you have flowers or chocolate, then you gift them to someone because they're considered blessed because you meditated with them.

So it created this place of generosity, both extended to other people. And it was generous to myself in a way that I would have never been if I didn't have the invitation from this religion. What 19 year old sits down and says, "I'm going to make a really beautiful space for myself and I'm going to sit here and be in this space quietly and I'm going to come back and I'm going to come back and I can go then to that part in a minute, and I'm going to do this devotedly for a year. I'm going to do it everyday for a year to see what happens." I don't think we would do that without the structure.

[CHRIS]

Not many 19 year olds would.

[GENIFFER]

I don't think many 40 year olds would.

[CHRIS]

Let's just see what happens. And then it just falls by the way.

[GENIFFER]

Right. So if I don't have anything I'm committed to, then this thing that was really good for me becomes kind of like a luxury that I can't afford or I'm not willing to give up from, oh, I better go to another meeting instead or something. I would like to say this sounds all very amazing. But truthfully meditation, especially in early times is sitting there sometimes annoyed. I would set out all this stuff and I'm like, this is great and then I'd sit down and I'm like, "Oh, I feel cranky." So it's not like every minute is ---

[CHRIS]

It's always peaceful.

[GENIFFER]

Right. A lot of the times I'm just like, I'm tired. I would say to myself, it's okay. If you're tired, you just need to stay here for 20 minutes or half an hour or whatever it was. But I want to be like, for me, it was very important that I didn't have to show up in a particular way. So just being exactly how you are and you can even not like to think it's stupid and dumb, but you don't leave.

[CHRIS]

But you still are there, the present.

[GENIFFER]

Right. Or sometimes it was awesome. I'd be like, oh my God, something, I'd just think of some beautiful hike or how much I love my sister and I would just be like sitting there being like, oh my gosh, it's amazing. But you sort of unconditional love for ourselves. It's an unconditional presence, which that's like the perfect love. The people who love you the most are the ones who will show up and just be with you and not trying to fix it and not try and make you be in a better mood. They'll just be with you no matter what is happening.

[CHRIS]

The simplicity of that, but how deep that is to know who's there for you. So what did happen? You said that you did that for a year?

[GENIFFER]

So I did that for a year and then I moved. I was in New Hampshire and then I moved out to Arizona to finish school. When I was in Arizona, I ended up meditating probably once a week. I've been doing a very similar meditation style, but I hiked every single day. I was an undergrad student. So I didn't have a ton of responsibility. So I had, I mean, I don't know if it's every single day, but I made a point to hike every day that I could. So I think the meditation turned into hiking meditation.

The thing I liked about, you know when something feels so hard in our life, there's something about being able to feel the hardness in your body, like how hard it is in your field, like how difficult something is just in your whole body. So like hiking up a hill that's steep and it's hot and it's dry in Arizona. So there's mountains, but it's hot and dry and feeling the intensity of that, it's hard, but I'm going to keep going. I think this is in yoga. I think it's in a lot of mindfulness practices when we can experience physically our own endurance and our own determination and resilience and capability. When we can externalize that and make it, this thing we physically experience, it's much more transferable to our psychological and emotional states and mental health in general. I'm going on and on. So I love this stuff.

[CHRIS]

Keep going.

[GENIFFER]

Well, I just think what I was saying is sometimes we're not going to be less anxious. And the thing to do is to just keep going, just go a little bit more every day until eventually it fades on its own or we get to a place where we do feel better, but today and tomorrow, and maybe for a week or two, it's going to be hard. It makes me think sometimes when I would be hiking, I'd get like, where I thought I'd hike plenty and I'm like, I can't even see the top yet. But that's so, it was just, those skills have been so transferrable to me in terms of I'll be in space with a client or with myself where I'm like, oh, I don't like how I feel. Then I can say, well, I can do one more minute of this. I can do one more hour of this.

[CHRIS]

Isn't that like the distress power?

[GENIFFER]

Right. It's exactly distress power.

[CHRIS]

Just building that muscle.

[GENIFFER]

Yes. And that you don't freak out. Oh God, I feel discomfort. Get me out of here.

[CHRIS]

The avoidance. So not jumping into that, stick with it, stay with it, almost there. So you got to encourage yourself through that.

[GENIFFER]

Yes, just be fine being just uncomfortable. So I guess those two things are huge. And then as I've gotten older, sleep has become a massive piece of my mindfulness stuff.

[CHRIS]

So what makes sleep important for you?

[GENIFFER]

I would say, I think this actually might be part of an aging thing. God bless us folks that are not in our thirties anymore. When I don't get enough sleep, and I see this in my clients too, the quality of my thinking changes. When I don't get enough exercise, when I don't feel really good, I actually realized the kind of thoughts that I have get really junky. It's like they go from being like high end thinking to like garbage thinking. And it's not just about anxiety or depression or stress, those kinds of thoughts. It's literally like, oh, that guy's annoying over there. Why did this person do that? Or look at that wall paint. It's ugly. Or I just, my brain gets very negative and it does things that I'm like, what are you doing? You know, it sort of goes off on its own. And I realize when I take care of my body in the world, my brain does so much better at serving me with thinking that is helpful and sometimes even pleasant

[CHRIS]

True. And I think sleep affects everything, how we get along in the day, just handling stressors, so many things, big part of our holistic wellness.

[GENIFFER]

It's fascinating. I don't know, because I only work in America, so, but I just know in our culture, at least the culture I'm in how sleep, how being busy is so revered. And we do, we talk about self-care is like something we all need, but it's also being busy. Seems like it's more revered than self-care. So you can do self-care as long as you've been busy and very productive.

[CHRIS]

But yes, keep the productivity going and wear yourself out. That's why we get them, people get to burn out.

[GENIFFER]

Yes. There's something I read recently or saw somewhere about what your true values are versus what you think they are and you find out what they are by doing a time audit. So you look at what you do every day and then you see, this is what I'm valuing. And actually a part of the invitation is to say, well, you don't really value eating well. Like you'd like to think you do, but you don't. So maybe you make amends with that. There's a quote, I don't know where it's from, from decades ago. It's if you believe it, then live it or let it go. So at some point it's like, could you stop badgering yourself about how you need to eat better? You actually like how you eat and you should just leave yourself alone and eat what you want to eat.

[CHRIS]

Just let it go.

[GENIFFER]

Yes, this is what you're going to be like and so whatever ramifications it has, let's not also add shame and guilt and the depleting energy of pretending you're going to do something about it when you don't really want to.

[CHRIS]

That's so true with clients too because I teach, as a holistic therapist about exercising, exercise and sleep and developing these healthy habits. And of course there's a lot of resistance and then I find they get in that cycle of beating themselves up. And then of course they don't, they're just not motivated to start and then they find that they have that guilt and shame and it just stops them from even starting anyway. So it's --- [crosstalk]

[GENIFFER]

We're just such [inaudible:

[CHRIS]

I know. It doesn't have to be this way. But how do you define holistic if we think about it overall?

[GENIFFER]

So it is interesting because I also, I was curious for you on that question, but I'm going to, I would say holistic is funny because honestly, Chris I'm like, I don't even know how you would do therapy without doing holistic therapy.

[CHRIS]

I don't either. I'm with you. That would be tough for me.

[GENIFFER]

Right. For me holistic, the way that I do therapy is the first thing is I want to break down is can we be real about what's really happening? And immediately that's going to involve the ---

[CHRIS]

Can we be real about what's really happening?

[GENIFFER]

Yes. It's very, unglorified. It's very pedestrian. It's not shiny. And what it is, is saying, okay, I wake up in the morning and I'm hopeful about the day or whatever. I wake up and I feel this way, but then I get dressed and I feel, high, I hate what I'm wearing or we just go through, what does it really feel like to be you throughout your day? Because I think when we have experiences that we don't like, we just try to not think about them and avoid them, which means we don't get any of the information from them. So immediately, as soon as we start to say, what is it like to be you, we think, oh, I wake up and by the time I get in my car, I can feel my shoulders are tighter and like punched in my car, leaning forward to the steering wheel and just like collapsing into my life.

So right there, that's holistic because we're looking at the whole picture of your life. Show me this picture. One of the things I'll say sometimes is if we were making a movie of your life and somebody had to play you, like, you can pick your favorite actor or actress that's going to be you, but you need them to get really what is it, when actors immerse themselves in the characters life so they get like a really good quality with. There's a word for that. Anyway, so we want this actor to have a really good sense to exactly what you feel in your body the whole time so when they are acting in the movie, it's really believable and people will see it and say, oh, I know that feeling. So it begs people to kind of consider, Ooh, what, yes, I'm feeling this and this and this and my body would be in this position or that position. I'd be eating this and I'd be wearing this. And this is what I would secretly do with my work breaks or whatever.

[CHRIS]

But I love that as an assessment, holistic assessment tool. That's fabulous.

[GENIFFER]

Yes. I also find that it's, if I were to say, let's do a holistic assessment tool and I had like a form and you fill it in, there's some performance that happens almost immediately just subconsciously. Like I'm filling out a form about my life or like we're entering questions now. But when we make it into this very full picture, let's fill in the whole map. Where do you live? What are the places you visit? Like then all of a sudden we can just see you.

[CHRIS]

I think that that's really helpful though. I find that with assessments too, when I talk to clients. If I can get a good picture of what their day is like or typical day or what is happening, that really can give you a broader, I guess the word holistic perspective to really know what's happening.

[GENIFFER]

Yes. For me, of course, how we talk the holistic piece also includes, hey, when you think about driving in your car, feel right now how your breath would be while you're sitting in your car, going to work. Can you mimic that? Because we all actually know our body has an astonishing memory for our somatic experiences. I'll ask people who probably do not have any interest in the word holistic. They'll be in therapy with someone who I think is wanting "straightly" sort of therapy. And I'll say, well someone fairly contributed, who just wants to get fixed and also ---

[CHRIS]

Let's get in there and get it fixed.

[GENIFFER]

Let's have a plan. We'll get the tools, ching, ching, ching. And I can say like, do you feel that in your body? And they'll be like, yes, it's like in my stomach. I'm like, isn't that wild that you literally have a feeling and you have it in your body because we think we're thinking the feeling.

[CHRIS]

Yes. But we're feeling in our body, different places sometimes too.

[GENIFFER]

This is all so exciting to me. I love all of this stuff.

[CHRIS]

Yes, yes. I can tell. You're very animated too, Gen. I love it.

[GENIFFER]

Yes. Thank you, Chris. I actually, we're expanding our practice and I just interviewed someone who was much more demure. And at first I found myself thinking, oh goodness, this person is not very animated. And then I realized, oh, not everyone wants the most animated therapist. The person's highly qualified and amazing and all these things. And then I was like, oh yes, remember, there's a lot of ways people would like to experience the world.

[CHRIS]

Exactly. Wow. So how do you use meditation with clients? Do you do it in session or do you give it as homework?

[GENIFFER]

Oh I find homework is a lost cause. The dog eat it. I do homework, but I don't do meditation as homework. Meditation I think right now is, for people who've done it a few times, I might do it. But usually we do it at least in session a few times before I send them home with it. I have a handful of apps that I use with people as homework, which is really helpful because they're guided, which helps us kind of show up a little bit more.

[CHRIS]

Which apps do you like?

[GENIFFER]

Let me, I'm going to pull up. I actually have a meditation app folder. So 10% and Headspace, which are the two most trending ones. Those are both great. I love those. There's one that's now called My Life, which was called Stop, Breathe, and Think. I like this one because it does something the other ones do not. It's called My Life and you go in and you take 10 seconds and you check in, so you push this button and you go check in and then you need to say how your mind feels like good, bad, mad and then how your body feels and then you need to label three to five emotions that you're having. Oh, I like that. So when you're in a place that's like hyper aroused, like you're depressed or anxious, we're in our downstairs brain. So we're not using our prefrontal cortex and requiring us to think about what is the feeling I'm having and what is the name I would put on brings our thinking up into our prefrontal cortex. So you're automatically kind of pulling yourself up from the basement.

[CHRIS]

That's a good way to think of it.

[GENIFFER]

Yes. It's a little bit of Daniel Siegel. He uses basement as like our downstairs brain. So labeling the thinking, just that step is a little bit of like a kick in the pants for your fight or flight state or your maybe stuck state that you're in. And then that when you do that it gives you suggested meditations. So those are probably the top three. There's one more that I like, particularly for college students or teenagers, Happy, Not Perfect. That one has more like journaling and is more like fully interactive and then it has meditations in it. And that one is, it's more of an overall like wellness app and that was super fun and I've even used it myself because I'm a little, I think that I don't love things that are too corny and this one I like. I feel like it has enough evocative ---

[CHRIS]

It's relatable.

[GENIFFER]

Yes, it's relatable and, oh, I also love that most of these, you can pick different voices for the meditation. So you can pick a guy or a woman and you can pick more soft or you could pick a more bold voice, something that just is what would feel comfortable for you to listen to while you're meditating.

[CHRIS]

Oh, that's great. So what holistic strategies do you use each day as part of your daily practice?

[GENIFFER]

I exercise every day and exercise can look different. I have an apple watch, which you don't have to have that, but for me, it really helps me. If at seven o'clock my watch says you're almost there, then I think, okay, I'm going to go do a 20 minute YouTube video, like workout at home for 20 minutes.

[GENIFFER]

That motivates you.

[GENIFFER]

Yes, it just tells me like, because it feels like, otherwise it feels all or nothing. Oh, I just didn't get it done today. When your watch was like, actually you did. My watch tells me I did a little more than you thought and you're pretty close. If you just did a smidge more, you'd be there. So that's really helpful to me when I do my time audit. I realized I do not negotiate having exercise. Sometimes exercise is just walking but usually I like, Chris I don't know if you know about this. This is one of these things. I have a friend who's finishing her Ph.D. and she's writing her thesis on difference in what happens in our brain between when we do cardio and weight training. So I switched between those because we have different responses to really over simplify her research. What she has found is cardio is very good for depression and weight training is very good for anxiety.

[CHRIS]

Oh, I never knew there was a connection.

[GENIFFER]

Yes. And because I don't have her research in front of me, we have to take it with a grain of salt until I could cite my sources. But it's something to think about. Most folks who are anxious, tend to want to do cardio. They want to go running. They want to go on the elliptical. And it's a little bit like up-regulating. You're like I'm anxious so I'll just go faster where weight training, if you're lifting heavy weights, you have to go slow because you'll hurt yourself and you have to breathe deeply in a way that has a vassal vagal response that soothes your nervous system.

[CHRIS]

That makes total sense.

[GENIFFER]

Right. So when you're hyper aroused, you do a hypo activity. So instead of going faster, you go slower. And of course the inverse is depression doing cardio. When you're in depression, your heart rate is slower, your breathing is slower. And when you do cardio, all of that is ups ticked so then you have more of a compensatory experience.

[CHRIS]

Wow. That's good to know. Thanks for sharing that. That's really helpful.

[GENIFFER]

Yes. So one of the things I do for myself or anybody else is when we figure out which one is going to work better. So maybe one of the things I'll have is a lot of times people have trouble going to sleep nd I'll say, you know what? Their mind is racing. We will do body based strength training right before you go to bed. So that's not fancy. Actually what it is do as many squats as you can do slowly, so you're using your muscles slowly or as many pushups as you can do slowly until you just can't do anymore and then get in bed. So it releases, when you get to where you get to it, then your muscles burn. It releases all kinds of endorphins but the research my friend is doing actually talks about specifically when neuro chemicals get released.

[CHRIS]

That's fascinating.

[GENIFFER]

Yes. So it's not, oh, go get a workout video and get your hot buns on. We're not talking about getting cute. We're talking about using exercise specifically in place of medication, because it's going to make chemicals go in your brain that are exactly what you need. They'll never have side effects. They're always the right dose and they're perfect for your body. Your brain already has them. You just have to do a thing that makes you work them out. Like just do the thing and your brain go shoot, there you go.

[CHRIS]

I love it. Oh, that's great. So what is another takeaway you could share today that might help listeners who are starting their holistic journey?

[GENIFFER]

I think a very pragmatic way of mindfulness, which I think is a foundation of holistic is that any moment when you realize you're not feeling good, whether it's sad, anxious, mad, whatever, you notice you're, hey, I just noticed I'm not feeling good. Oh Hmm. The first thing you want to do is just notice I noticed I'm not feeling good. Usually that spirals into this thing of, because I didn't do this well enough or that well enough or these bad things are going to happen. The pause that we have before the story in her head can sometimes be the most merciful thing ever. Think about I'm not feeling good. If anybody else said that to you, I don't think you would start rattling off all the reasons that they deserve to not feel good.

[CHRIS]

Exactly.

[GENIFFER]

But what happens when we don't notice we're not feeling good and there's actually, that's the tender vulnerable point right there. But we don't notice it. We jump right into railing ourselves through what we missed or what we're getting wrong or I'm so depressed and I never am okay. And if we can stop at the, oh, I'm not feeling good, you can even do it retroactively. That's actually where it usually starts. So if you can't catch it in the moment, maybe you'll get home at the end of your day and you'll say, we usually, when we're like that all day, we don't feel great about how we behaved or even how the day went. So we can say, oh this day, blah, blah, blah. And then you notice, oh, I wasn't feeling good today. So yes, you just sit there and know that is a fact in and of itself that we don't need to create a big thing around and then just have it for a moment. That was hard. I didn't feel good today. And I did my whole day like that. That's really hard.

[CHRIS]

Like that self-compassion. With Kristin Neff, this is a moment of suffering and just sitting with it.

[GENIFFER]

Yes. Even if it's over, it still counts. I always tell people like, even if you don't realize till after, it's still building neural connections in your brain that'll help you catch it sooner every single time.

[CHRIS]

Wow. That's great to know. Well, you have a lot of gems in this episode. I appreciate all you've shared today.

[GENIFFER]

Well, thanks for having me on. I really love this stuff. So I'm glad more and more people are getting it. For me, I think of this as a free therapy and if people can find these podcasts and, it's basically all the stuff we're doing in therapy and you can just have it, I think it's great.

[CHRIS]

Yes, and helping therapists too, and their self-care. That's the important thing. So what's the best way for listeners to find you and learn more about you?

[GENIFFER]

So probably Google North Boulder Counseling. I think the links in the show notes, but I have paid Google a lot of money, so it should find me. And you can Google Gen Morley too, but my counseling website is built out more. It would be easier to find. So North Boulder Counseling and then you'll find me. I actually have a bunch of videos that are very candid. I think Chris, you watch one of them. They're just me, literally on the fly in my room, in my office, doing candid meditations that are really approachable and not creepy or weird soft voice. They're just meditations that can in this moment help you feel a little better and manage your day closer to how you'd like it to go.

[CHRIS]

And I got to speak for that. I did her meditation this morning and it really helped me. I was fired up this morning.

[GENIFFER]

Thank you.

[CHRIS]

Sometimes Mondays are hard for me. That's where everyone else, just trying to get myself together. But thank you so much. This was really fun, Gen.

[GENIFFER]

Yes, I agree. And all the best to you and everyone who is listening.

[CHRIS]

Thank you. Awesome. And thank you so much to my listeners. I'm so grateful for your support and remember to subscribe, rate, and review wherever you get your podcasts. And again, this is Chris McDonald sending each one of you much light and love. Until next time, take care.

If you're loving the show, will you rate review and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform? We just started this and that helps other people find this show. Also, if you're feeling uncertain about your modalities and you want to build your confidence to be your unique self, why don't you to join my free email course, Becoming a Holistic Counselor over holisticcounselingpodcast.com. In my Becoming a Holistic Counselor course, you'll get tips for adding integrative care into your practice, what training you need and don't, and the know-how to attract your ideal holistic clients. If this sounds like the direction you are headed, sign up at holisticcounselingpodcast.com.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.

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