Dr Bimisa Augustin, FNP (00:01.238):
Hi, everyone. I'm Dr. Bimisa Augustin, a family nurse practitioner and provider and Director of Clinicians here at Thrivelab. I'm here with Dr. Trent Nguyen. He is our clinical mental health specialist here now at Thrivelab. He's here to discuss with me the impact of hormones on mental health and also to discuss our new life coaching program that we're now offering here at Thrivelab. So I will pass the reins over to Dr. Nguyen.
Trent Nguyen (00:29.938):
Okay, so welcome everybody. My name is Trent Nguyen. I am the life coach and licensed therapist here at Thrive Lab. I have been in this field, let me see, like since 1998 working with various populations. Populations that were court-mandated, families, children, even children in foster care due to their parents having domestic violence issues, substance abuse issues, et cetera. Besides seeing clients, working with families in groups as well. I also teach graduate level counseling students and these are the students that are training to be future clinicians down the road. So very nice to be here and this is a very important topic that we will be discussing today.
Dr Bimisa Augustin, FNP (01:26.926):
Absolutely. Thank you, Dr. Nguyen. I'm so sorry I pronounced your last name wrong.
Trent Nguyen (01:30.887):
It's okay, I go by Trent. Trent is fine.
Dr Bimisa Augustin, FNP:
Okay. All right, Dr. Trent. Okay. So I have some questions about the new life coaching program here at Thrivelab. So basically what are the goals of this program?
Trent Nguyen (01:46.486):
Yeah, so when a client slash patient comes in, right, I mean, they usually have some struggles, current struggles, and those struggles do impact their daily life. I mean, and all, you know, our main purpose is to help all clients slash patients, not just to survive on a daily basis, but to thrive. Okay. And at times, I mean, you know, these are the folks that do need some life skills.
For example, how to regulate one's emotions and not to be reactive in various circumstances like we all go through. And these days, everything is so uncertain. People are ready to snap at one another. And you can see the stress that people go through, I mean, not only at their places of employment, but also their home life, kids, et cetera. So folks are being impacted at all levels.
And if you think about the inflation, people these days, I mean, they are just trying to make ends meet, and the stress, the distress that they are in. So our focus, our mission is to really alleviate and get their struggles by providing some tools, okay? And to help them have a new relationship with themselves. Because for the most part, right, when we fall short, I mean, we tend to be very judgmental, you know?
And I usually ask clients to look at that relationship that they have with themselves. And the mantra that I usually help clients repeat is that I am doing my very best under these circumstances. So those are the things that we help in terms of life coaching with our patients. And for the most part, I mean, for the 90 days, we want to walk with our patients.
Okay, so that we can look at different areas that they need help with in terms of life skills. Okay, and after a while, I mean, once they practice this on a daily consistent basis, it becomes very natural, second nature for them so that they would not revert to their default ways of thinking, behaving, you know, and feeling, you know, but to be very skillful.
Okay, so one thing that I usually like for clients to know is that we cannot control other people's behavior. The only two things that we control is our cognition. How do we modify our thinking so that it can impact our emotions? And the emotions basically will determine the behavior that we exhibit.
And that is not based on external factors, right? I mean, we cannot expect other people to act appropriately, all that, because again, that is our preferred reality. But reality is not like that. So we owe it to ourselves to be very skillful in terms of our responses to others' behaviors and not to be reactive. So both professionally and personally. And I think that is huge because that does impact one's self-confidence, self-concept, self-identity.
Dr Bimisa Augustin, FNP (05:14.494):
Absolutely. Is there a specific timeframe which you set for the patient or give them a goal in order to achieve these coping skills?
Trent Nguyen (05:23.806):
Sure, definitely. Yeah, so for the very first session, right, I mean, we use that session as an assessment session to look at what are their current struggles. And we usually look at the most urgent needs first, okay? So if a patient says that, hey, I do have a tendency to think negatively about myself as a mom, as a dad, as a worker and all that, you know? So we look at those areas so we can strategize. So for example, how to tolerate the distress that one is in, how to replace those negative self-talk with positive ones. What are some of the activities that a client can engage in on a daily basis to increase their positive emotions? So again, I mean, we act as a coach to really walk with our patients. So from the get-go, we will look at those areas that we focus on. And then the following sessions, we look at each one of those goals. And the thing that we usually ask our clients to engage in, for example, is to really have this mindfulness mindset, to be fully present, right, and not to kind of like multitask and be pulled in different directions. And the rationale behind that is to really reduce the stress. Okay, so in the mantra is that I am doing my very best under these circumstances and then I am not a superhuman, right? Again I mean that radical self-acceptance is so crucial and I think once a person shifts that paradigm, right, shifts that mindset, then they can accept where they are, the things that they can do with their best ability. And that's all that matters, right? Yeah, so again, I mean, the very first session, we engage in the assessment, what are the areas that they struggle the most, and then the following sessions, right? We look at one of those goals and then provide the different tools that they can utilize. So our perspective and philosophy is that we treat the whole person. Okay. Not just the symptoms and all that, because we are very holistic, very integrative, and that is our mission and our philosophy.
Dr Bimisa Augustin, FNP (07:57.018)
Okay, all right, awesome. So how would you say our hormones and our mental wellbeing are connected?
Trent Nguyen (08:04.35)
Sure, right. Yeah, it can be interconnected on so many levels. So for example, if a person is having a thyroid problem, for example, no doubt they will be impacted emotionally, mentally. So it's almost this interconnectedness. And when one is highly stressed, that impacts their hormones as well. Okay, so one of the few good hormones that I usually talk about with clients is endorphins, right? And we can produce that type of good hormone by exercising, for example, by taking care of ourselves. And this has to be on a consistent basis. And for the most part, people think that when I self-care, it's kind of selfish. But the main thing is that we cannot give what we do not have. So the same almost like even when you are flying with a little kid, and you are the first person that you put the oxygen mask on first in order to be effective, in order to help others. So when a person, and I have had clients that said that, but I'm not into exercise and all that. And I usually say, you don't have to do like half an hour, like a vigorous, moderate exercise, for example, walking around the block, right? And they say, okay, I'll give it a shot. And then as they walk, right? You see if the body produces endorphins and then they feel so great, you know?
And then, you know, the main thing with, you know, changes like this, I mean, a person can be very gung-ho, you know, from the beginning. And then two weeks in, right? Part of their, we call this dialectical tension. It's like a part of you knows, right, what you need to do to get well, to feel great and all that. But another part of you kicks in and say, hey, I feel so fatigued today, I feel so tired today, can I skip this? And one of the skills that we talk about is opposite to emotion. We get meaning that if your emotions may be like fatigue, you feel demotivated and all that, right? And I used to say that ‘you do what you know the outcomes will be, and then the emotions will catch up’. Okay, so we apply to this exercise, example, right, a person continues to walk and engage in different physical activities, right? And in the beginning, they say, my emotion is not there yet, but after like half an hour, 20 minutes, you see the hormone endorphin, right, occurs, takes place. And now they say, hey, this is so awesome, you know? And that is opposite to emotion technique. And when we do that, right, it's like, we do what we know is best for us, and then the emotions will catch up. All the negative ones tend to disappear, and the positive ones do occur. And patients feel like, hey, this is within my control, and those are the things that we talk about in terms of focusing on what one can control and let go of the things that one cannot control. And again, two things that we can control, right? All cognition. We can modify our thoughts, okay? And then the next thing is that we can control our behavior. And those are things that one can control. And they engage in those activities on a daily basis, right? And they are in a different place, okay? And they have those tools, those skills, right? And as time progresses, I mean, they can be independent and utilizing those skills for the rest of their lives. And the main thing I like about this profession is like this, the ripple effects are so tremendous, meaning that if I could help a mom or dad, and that is like a direct cause, right? A direct effect. But also if you look at the indirect effects. Is that if a mom, if a dad, right, they feel great about themselves, that their hormones are no longer imbalanced now. They will have a different relationship with their spouses, with their kids, with their coworkers, etc. So again, back to this holistic philosophy, right, it's like one area of your life that is improved, it also improves the other areas of your life as well.
Dr Bimisa Augustin, FNP (12:49.986)
Exactly. It's the trifecta. Yes. The mind, body and soul. Yes.
Trent Nguyen (12:50.606)
That's right, that's right. You see? That's right. Yeah. And I have seen this over and over again, you know, that even one's finances improve as well, and their eating patterns also are affected. They are no longer, you know, emotional eaters, right? But they are very intentional. You know, they eat for the nutrition, not to numb the emotions that they try to, you know, negate.
Dr Bimisa Augustin, FNP (13:18.83)
Right. And then in turn, it affects their health, you know, and things like that. Totally understandable. The way in which I see, well, I'm going to read something, reproductive hormones, how they actually regulate our, you know, parts of our mental health, especially for women, because in a lot of cases, most women are referred to, you know, psychiatry and it's ‘Oh well you're mentally depressed’ or, you know, or there's anxiety well let's you know kind of figure out why it could be your hormones so that's why the whole holistic, you know, thing is very important to me because, you know, you do have to care for my body and soul as well. So for example hormones like estrogen and progesterone are primarily female hormones, right? They help control things like menstruation and pregnancy. Testosterone, primarily male, but yes, women do make it. It's a sex hormone and it helps control like, you know, libido, muscle building and brain fog. Women need this as well. We have stress hormones, okay? Like glucagon, cortisol, adrenaline, and this helps regulate blood sugar levels and how we respond to stress, right? So there we go. We can help with that. We can help, you know, bring all those coping mechanisms that, you know, can help make our lives a lot more positive, right? So we have insulin also too, which helps us absorb and process sugar, glucose from food, right? The thyroid hormones, which help our body run efficiently, right? So we're a well-oiled machine, like a car. So it affects energy and weight, right?
And so when these things are like out of balance or they're off, signs and symptoms such as obsessive and or negative thoughts, right, and feelings and emotions, irritability, anxiety, depression, mental health or mental fatigue and sluggishness, trouble with focus and concentration, memory loss, inability to cope with stress, and insomnia and/or trouble sleeping.
This has a completely negative effect on our body. So mentally it can depress us, you know, and so literally caring for mind, body and soul, you know, taking care of these hormones will help you develop, you know, and feel better mentally across the board. Do you agree? Yeah, absolutely.
Trent Nguyen (15:56.334)
Definitely, definitely, right. I agree. And the beauty with Thrivelab is that we have different professionals with different areas of expertise. So again, I mean, if they need medical advice, you know, all that, then we do have those professionals. And if they need like, life coaching, I mean, I'm here for them so that we can, you know, provide the techniques, the tools that they can utilize. And for the most part, I mean, some folks may feel very confused, you know, what is happening to me and all that because of that interconnectedness. You know, once they understand that, right, then they say, hey, I'm just going through this process and it has to do with aging, you know, as well. Okay. So if a person has too much stress that they can not handle, right, that affects their hormones tremendously. So that creates that, all the imbalances in the ecosystem.
Dr Bimisa Augustin, FNP (16:56.658)
Mm-hmm. So you gave an example earlier of doing something healthy and fun that can help us release endorphins, make us feel better, right? Exercise. What are some of the other healthy habits or choices that we can make in order to help us mentally, you know, flush the negativity, I guess? What are some of the other healthy habits?
Trent Nguyen (17:18.182)
Right, definitely. Yeah, I would say that nutrition impacts us tremendously, not just the physical health, right, but whatever that we put in our mouth, I mean, impacts us mentally, emotionally. So the latest research that I have read is like, for example, like fast food, you know, can have an impact on a person's emotions. Okay, for example, it can cause depression, believe it or not. So I usually talk about that with clients. I mean, be sure that the foods that you eat, I mean, very clean, all that.
So, and also another thing that one can do is mindfulness practices on a daily basis. And for clients who have never done mindfulness practices, they may say that, how long do I do this? What do I think about when I am sitting still, right? And I say it is very simple. I mean, you don't have to do like half an hour, no, that, start with five minutes, okay? And they can get hooked, you know, and the reason why, because when we do mindfulness, right, we basically give our brain, you know, our body like a rest, a break, okay? And that can energize yourself, okay? And they may say that, hey, five minutes is no longer enough. I want to do like 10 minutes, on and on and on. I had tried this back in the 90s, and in one sitting, I could do it for four hours straight. Could you believe it? Okay? So some of the techniques, I mean, can be very simple, right? Just focus on your breathing, okay? The breaths that we take. Okay, because when we do that, different thoughts do come up, different concerns, anxiety and all that. Hey, what about this test? What about that test and all that. And I tell clients not to worry about them. Just acknowledge that you have those thoughts, those concerns, those emotions. Just acknowledge them.
And the main thing with emotions is like, they are like messages. They are like messages telling us that, hey, we need to do this, we need to get all these concerns and all that. So once we acknowledge the presence of the thoughts, emotions, concerns and all that, and then redirect our attention back to our breathing, because this is like the essence of life. Can you imagine if you have all those concerns and then you could not breathe for the next five, 10 minutes, life will cease, right? So this is like the essence, the foundation of life right here. So that's all it is. I mean, you just redirect your attention and say, I am in the present moment. And it teaches our body, right? Say, I can be calm and that becomes a habit. So that is one thing that I do twice a day and also at the end of the day, I look back at the day, right? And always close my day with gratitude. Because social psychologists have demonstrated that we humans, right, tend to tilt to the negative. Because let's say that we have five events that happened in the middle of the day. And let's say four of those events were positive. We are so enthusiastic, so happy now that, and then one negative event that takes place, guess what, we tend to tilt to the negative, you see? And we maximize that negative event. But what about those four positive events? Why do we tend to minimize them, right?
So when we have this gratitude, it's like we tend to focus on the positive events and maximize them. And with the negative event, right, let's say that we, if we did fall short and we say, hey, what is the lesson learned here so that I can improve? You know, again, having that radical self-acceptance, but at the same time, right, this desire, right, to become the best version of who we can be, okay, areas for improvement.
Dr Bimisa Augustin, FNP (21:30.27)
Trent Nguyen (21:39.202)
And not because I'm so afraid that I've failed, but hey, this is like self-actualization, that we want to be the best person that we can be, the best version as time progresses. So those are the things that I do, also make sure that we sleep well, okay? At least seven, eight uninterrupted, and that's like the main thing, uninterrupted sleep, okay? Nutrition. Meditation. I mean those are like the main things and also believe it or not, I mean in this country I mean loneliness is an epidemic. Meaning that not having, you know, connections with others for various reasons. You know people may be too busy, afraid of others, you know, you name it, but having those connections, just like oxygen to our lives, right, without that. I mean, and then we learned that from the Blue Zone people, right? I mean, all the five Blue Zones, the common denominator is that they are connected with others in their communities, okay? So that's the lesson that we can espouse and to practice in our lives.
Dr Bimisa Augustin, FNP (23:00.63)
That's awesome. Absolutely. So our CEO, Josh Host, awesome guy, he always talks about on our Thursday morning meetings, practicing gratitude. So that's something I have adopted on a daily basis. Okay, and it does make life a whole lot better, you know, a whole lot more simple, even with all the difficulties that we face. So on a, I guess on a personal, you know, story on a personal level. I myself, I'm a patient at Thrivelab as well. Okay. I, in the past, I do, I have a psychiatrist and a psychologist, you know. Yes, I was in the military, but it was every diagnosis that I felt like, you know, known to man was thrown at me. Insomnia, depression, with anxiety, of course, PTSD. And it was just like, I know I'm not a depressed person. Yes, it doesn't matter that deployments happen. I mean, it was a choice. But the medications that I was on, I didn't feel like myself. I was on, at one point, Ambien, Lunesta, Bupropion, Zoloft. I mean, it was just, nothing worked. Nothing worked at all. And so I met Katie Jo, you know, she came on board, she became my provider and we looked at my hormones and we did find out that, that I had an underactive thyroid and also too, you know, my hormones were jacked, you know, I'm still a young woman, but I'm a perimenopausal woman and I was like, that's where the depression was coming from. And it was just like an up and down type thing because I know I'm not a depressed person and there's nothing wrong with that, but it was like, it's just something wrong. I don't know why I was feeling that way. But now I know why. So even with ongoing mental health practices that I do, I still have, I still go see my psychologist and psychiatrist. I do feel better knowing that I don't have to depend on medications in order to help me feel better. I'm able to cope a lot better.
Trent Nguyen (25:16.05)
Yeah, that's right.
Dr Bimisa Augustin, FNP (25:16.842)
You know, and I feel a lot better. And not to mention, I'm still talking about the 42 pounds that I lost, you know, I have a great diet, have a, you know, I just, the outlook on life is totally different, you know? Um, so Thrivelab has, again, I will say it Thrivelab has been there to help save my life, you know, and, and I love it. And I do have quite a few patients that are, you know, no longer on mental health medications because they're able to cope now because they're getting the help that they need, not only with their hormones, but also too with their mental health professional to be able to cope with the difficulties in life. Dr. Trent, do you have any stories or any success stories?
Trent Nguyen (26:03.666)
I would say that my wife is a retired pharmacist. And the main thing is we tend to believe that food is medicine, okay? And even when we have like colds and all that, we don't tend to take medications at all. We tend to eat the right foods and all that. And the main thing is to focus on the stress, to reduce the stress level. Now, we try to look at the chronic inflammation in our bodies, based on the foods that we intake, based on our responses to circumstances. And daily physical activities, we cannot underestimate that, because that's the ingredients for a healthy life. And besides that, we also focus on spirituality as well. Okay, spirituality here, not like going to church, or religion, you know, anything like that. I mean, a person can be spiritual, you know, and they may not be religious at all. Spirituality in a sense is like, you know, I have this respect for nature, for example. I believe, you know, that something is greater than myself. Okay, that I am put here on earth, you know, to carry out a mission, you know, things like that. Things that are bigger than myself, than me, you know. And that gives us meaning. Because every day, if you think about every day, every day is like a gift, not a right at all. So every chance that we have, that we be grateful and not to be afraid to commit any acts of random kindness to folks, because we may not know that smile, love that, that gentleness, that encouragement can do so much for those people and we may not see the ripple effect at all. So that's how we live our lives. Very grateful because I was one of those boat people from Vietnam back in the late 1970s and we were stranded at sea for days. And we thought that, hey, this is it. And I believe that about half a million boat people died in the ocean. And we were so lucky. We were rescued. And that moment changed my life forever. And I want to be that stranger to have no hesitation to help people. And that impacts that person, to help me, right? Because they will look at me. I didn't do anything, you know? And they tend to replicate that, you know? And that is the ripple effects, I mean, that I would like to see on and on and on. And I was talking with my friend the other day that, hey, this is the legacy that we leave behind, you know? And we may not see the effects, you know? But never hesitate to really use kind words, encouragement. You know? So that people could feel like, hey, I am significant. Because if you think about the two things, right, that everybody wants, love and significance, okay? They never have enough of those two ingredients, right? So they always say, hey, I accept that. I mean, I receive that, no problem. So, yeah. But either way, I am very grateful to be alive. This is almost like a bonus, right, like a second chance to be alive and to make an impact.
Dr Bimisa Augustin, FNP (29:51.886)
Absolutely. Yes, wonderful story. That is awesome. So we are so honored and blessed to have you Dr. Trent on board with us. We do offer life coaching services and nutrition services and hormone replacement therapy services at thrivelab.com. So go and find out all the information that you want on all these services and then sign up if there's something that's right for you. Anyone, family members, whatever, you can bring them on board. We have all licensed professionals on board with us. We'll get you in as soon as possible and then get you going on this journey for elevation of mind, body, and spirit. Thank you, Dr. Trent.
Trent Nguyen (30:44.254)
Okay, thank you so much, Dr. B.