While we talk a lot about business, we don’t ever really sit down and talk about stress. We haven’t been talking about what it is that we need to do for stress management other than pursue traditional medicine. Dr. Kathy Gruver has been following the breadcrumbs looking for alternative medicine. Losing her mom at 18 to cancer inspired her to look for options. One of the first things to recognize with stress is that stress isn’t really the problem. We can’t control or stop the stress. There’s always going to be something pulling on us that is stressful. However, we can control our response to that. Changing how we think about stress and how we respond to it is the key. Kathy shares some amazing techniques to managing stress.
My guest is Kathy Gruver, PhD. She’s graced stages on three different continents, two cruise ships, and a handful of islands, which is cool. She’s even done TEDx. She hosts a TV show that’s based on her first book, The Alternative Medicine Cabinet. She earned her PhD in natural health. Dr. Gruver is a twelve-time award-winning author of seven books, including Conquer Your Stress, Workplace Wellness, Conquer Your Stress at Work, and Journey of Healing. She has studied Mind Body Medicine at the famed Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard. She’s been featured as an expert in numerous publications and she appeared on over 250 radio and TV shows. For fun and stress relief, she does hip-hop and flying trapeze.
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Stress Management Techniques with Kathy Gruver
Welcome, Kathy. It’s great to have you.
Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.
I’m excited to have you particularly because while we talk so much about business, we don’t ever really sit down and talk about stress. We haven’t been talking about what it is that we need to do other than pursue traditional medicines. First of all, how did you get into this field? What led you here?
I just follow the breadcrumbs. All things started when I was an anchor, but I always had this parallel path of acting and healing for those alternatives. I started doing massage when I was a little kid and then apprenticed with another massage therapist when I was in college as a theater major. I lost my mom at eighteen to cancer. That wasn’t the direct link. I have a lot of people say, “Of course you’re already healing,” that didn’t quite go that way but definitely it inspired me to look for options. Pittsburgh in the ‘80s, chemo, radiation, surgery, that was pretty much her choice. I like to let people know that they have more choices. They have different choices, if nothing else how we think, how we act, how we respond. That led me here; from massage to hypnosis, Reiki, herbs, homeopathics, writing, speaking, and Harvard. I just said yes to things and here I am.
I really hope that the listeners take that in because I always advocate that you look at whatever’s in front of you and instead of saying, “No,” what if you do? What if you can? Instead saying yes, that’s awesome. Maybe you can give us a couple of stress management tips. Everyone wants to get so much done and we’re trying to be productive, then I hear that that creates so much stress. Do you have any ideas?
I’m very Type A. My husband says I’m type A plus, plus, plus, which at times is really good because I get a lot done and other times, he can spend a lot of times watching myself absolutely crazy. One of the first things to recognize was stress because the stress isn’t the problem. We can’t control the stress. We can’t stop the stress. Stress is that saying that we perceived to be bigger than what we can handle. It’s going to be something too large for us to tackle. If it wasn’t too big for us to handle, it wouldn’t be stress. We just do it. We wouldn’t even consider it that way. We can’t stop the stress. There’s always going to be something pulling on us that is stressful. What we can control is our response to that. That’s the other key word. So many times, we react to things. We have this knee-jerk reaction. We want first responders. We want first reactors. You don’t want my crazy aunt running through the fire going, “Get it out.” People who are going to respond to that rather than going back to this very primal reaction to something. Changing how we think about stress, changing, how we respond, how we choose to respond, that’s one of the keys and there are some amazing techniques that can help people with that.
Years and years ago, I mean decades ago, one of the first mentors I ever had was the phenomenal Zig Ziglar. He did this whole training on being a responder versus a reactor, and literally, it changed my life. It totally shifted my life. I’m glad you brought that back up. Can you give us maybe a technique or two?
I’ll tell you my favorite one is the mini meditation. I’ve already said how I’m type A plus, plus, plus, I am. I’m also an only child. I’m a control freak. I’m very competitive. I’m very driven. Tell me to sit there and meditate. I started to joke that it was my to-do lists meditation because I sit on the pillow and I get into position and like a minute, I’d be like, “I’ve got to call that guy back.” I jump off the pillow and I go do that thing.
I know it was very productive because I’m getting stuff done and even now, every once in a while when I meditate, I will be like, “I have to remember and I’ll write it down and then go back into the meditation. That’s not the point of meditation. The point of is stopping. When I started at Harvard and they said, “Now, we’re going to meditate,” I thought, “I’m terrible at it.” The woman who taught us was this very soothing and very calming. She immediately pegged me as the one in the class, if not more of us, that couldn’t meditate. They taught us this mini meditation and it’s as simple as concentrating on your breath, pay attention to that rise and fall of the chest and when you inhale you think, “I am.” On the exhale, you think, “At peace.” You just keep repeating that over and over. You can do it. It stops that stress response where it backs that present moment and train it to respond rather than react. It has been a lifesaver for me.
I love this concept because I do hear this with people all the time. I’ve tried to meditate. I can’t meditate and it’s not supposed to be this much work. We’re going to take the breath, the inhale, I am, and we’re going to exhale, at peace. I l did it and I liked the way it felt to be honest with you.
The good thing about it is just say to someone, “Clear your mind.” That is a point in my life right now. If I’m thinking, “I am at peace,” there isn’t that pressure to clear your mind. There is that pressure to stop thinking. Just like two solid objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. I’m paraphrasing slightly. You can’t think two things. If you’re thinking, “I’m at peace,” you can’t be thinking all that other crazy stuff that’s running through your head. It’s a perfect way to calm you down and stop that thinking.
I feel like I know the audience is going to get tremendous value and everyone is going to dig you. I feel like you came here talking just to me. Thank you. I am going to take you up on this. I’m going to do this mini meditation. I love this. I also totally agree. If we’re thinking this thought, there’s not a way to occupy, “I’ve got to pack this or read this or do this.” What I also like is that it’s simple. It’s easy and we can all start doing it immediately.
It’s an affirmation. It’s also programming us to be at peace. I taught this at a workshop and a guy came up to me afterwards and he goes, “What if I’m not at peace? What if I know I’m not at peace? What if I don’t think at any mere time, I’m getting to be a peace?” I looked at him and I smiled and I said, “You have two choices.” One, it’s that fake it until you make it thing. The more you say, “I’m at peace,” the more you’re going to start to be at peace. The other thing is if it’s really difficult for you to say that because you feel like you’re lying to yourself, change it to, “I am pure love. I am pure health. I am relaxed. Jesus, Mary, Om.” It doesn’t matter what you’re saying. You want to make it something positive. You want to make it positive and anything that you’re saying that’s going to reinforce that self-worth, that positivity, that value of who you are or some spiritual religious thing, just so you weren’t doing something that you repeat over and over again to block out those other thoughts.
I was so intrigued with this when I found this out about you, hip-hop and flying trapeze. Let’s say hip-hop. I’m like, “Lots of people do hip-hop.” How did this come?
The hip-hop, you’re right, a lot of people do it. It’s easy to explain. I’ve been dancing since I was a little kid. I discovered hip-hop ten years ago and I have not stopped. That’s an easy explanation. The trapeze. I just hit my 100th class and I’m so excited. I thought this would be this one off thing where, “You try it once. You’ve write it off your bucket list.” I don’t believe in a bucket list. To me, if there’s something you want to go do and it’s within your power, the trip around the world, probably going to have to wait for more time and more money, but my phrase is go for it. I don’t have a tattoo, but if I did, that would be it. It would be, “Go for it,” in my dad’s handwriting. I’m at the trying new things and living life to its fullest. That enhances our time on this planet and this time we never know how short or how long it is. To me, it’s about experiencing these other things and keeping that childlike curiosity and that excitement about what you’re about to do. I had a client say, “You’ve done so much stuff. What’s left on your bucket list?” I’ve done a lot of really cool things. I said, “I don’t believe in a bucket list. Go do it.” She goes, “What’s next on what you want to do?” I thought for a second and I said to her, “I’ve always wanted to try flying trapeze.” To me, there’s power in statements like that. Literally, as she’s changing her clothes after her massage, I’m Googling where you’ll do flying trapeze because I thought, “I just said it. I just told her I want to do it.” I am lying to myself and everybody around me if I now don’t go do that thing.
Two weeks later, I found myself down in Santa Monica on the Pier, a little scared, in my 40s. I said, “I’m going to do flying trapeze.” I’m surrounded by twelve-year-olds and I’m like, “This is crazy and I love it.” I’ve been dancing forever. I did gymnastics and tumbling. This was right up my alley. Here I am, past the 100th classes. It stuck with me and it is the most phenomenal thing. It’s the best shape I’ve ever been in. This is probably the strongest I’ve ever been in my life. My core, you could eat dinner off my flank because I’m so strong in the core and it’s a mindfulness practice. It forces you to be here. It forces you to be in this present moment, listening for your calls, pay attention to what your body’s doing, knowing where you are in space at all times. If you start to daydream, if you think forward to the next thing, you’re not only going to mess up your trick, you’re going to get hurt. I’ve been hurt pretty bad three times. Now, I’m doing more advanced things. If you head to the local trapeze rig, and you probably might have one near you, you’re going to do a simple knee hang. It’s nothing dangerous, but as you get more and more advanced, if you mess it up, it’s dangerous. To me, it’s this dual purpose of exercise and pure joy, but also it is a meditation to me.
First, I want to acknowledge you. I know you love integrity, so do what you say you’re going to do. Go do it and there you go. I definitely can get it. It’s like being in the now, you have to tune everything else out. Your focus has to be there. You have to be in the present moment, mindful. I get how that could be meditative. For a while, I was racing professionally Formula Dodge cars and literally because of the speed and because of the danger, your brain can’t think about another thing. It’s not possible. It’s not possible to take in anything else other than what you’re doing in the car on the road in that nanosecond because if you don’t, you literally can die. I remember every day when I would get out of the car after practice, I would say, “I’ve never been so focused in my whole life.” It was such a great learning.
I want to experience everything. I was in South Africa and I tried warthog carpaccio. Why would I not have that? When am I going to ever going to get that? It was this very traditional South African restaurant and said, “I want your local traditional food.” I have this entire platter of these elky, deer things. I saw them on safari the day before and two days later I was eating them. I want to try that. I want that experience and then I want to be able to share that experience in hopes that other people will go, “I want to do.” Maybe it’s not trapeze, maybe it’s not eating warthog carpaccio. Maybe it’s driving a different way to work. Maybe it’s trying that new dish, maybe it’s trying a new recipe, maybe it’s not turning on the TV at night and it’s playing a game with your spouse. I don’t care what but you’ve got to do something.
You don’t have to do trapeze. You don’t have to get in and drive a race car. Change it up and do something different. How can people get in touch with you? I’m going to recommend people do. I’m excited about who you are. I’m glad we’ve had this time together.
I’ve got two sites. It’s KathyGruver.com. It’s a lot about my speaking. If you think I could offer value at a workshop or a retreat or something like that. Then TheAlternativeMedicineCabinet.com has a lot of my past media appearances. All of my books are available at both sites: KathyGruver.com and TheAlternativeMedicineCabinet.com. I’m all over social media too so come find me.
Kathy, thank you so much for being a guest here in Heartrepreneur Radio.
Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
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About Dr. Kathy Gruver
Get ready to be inspired and entertained. Dr. Kathy Gruver delivers life-changing information in a fun and down-to-earth manner. She is an award-winning author, health practitioner, PhD, hip-hop dancer and trapeze artist. She is the host of the new national TV series, The Alternative Medicine Cabinet. But, her natural health career started, unknowingly, at the young age of 6 when she would massage her dad’s neck on long car trips. Years later watching him care for her dying mother sparked even more interest in alternative medicine, life options and helping others heal. With a background in theatre and bad fast food, Dr. Gruver overcame her addiction to caffeine, artificial sweetener and meals that were eaten in the car. Now, decades after her mother died of cancer and 15 years since her last drink of soda, Kathy, with her ‘Go for it’ attitude, makes it a point to help others navigate the sometimes-confusing world of nutrition, stress reduction, natural health and mind/body medicine.
As a former actor with decades of theatre experience, Kathy has an ease in front of groups and conveys information in a fun and down to earth manner. Her lectures are not only inspiring and education, but entertaining as well. What sets her apart as a speaker is her ability to relate-ability and talent at reaching people on a personal level. The perfect combination of formal learning and life experience, Gruver offers a balanced and practical approach to teaching. Always energetic and entertaining, Gruver adds a spark of life to any lecture, retreat and workshop.
Dr. Gruver has earned her PhD in Natural Health. She has studied mind-body medicine at the famed Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School and is a natural health practitioner with over two decades of experience. She has penned countless articles, contributed as an expert to dozens more, appears regularly as an expert on radio and TV and has written five books. She has lectured around the world for everyone from nurses in the Middle East to 911 dispatchers in New Orleans, corporations around the US and teachers in her own backyard. She just completed work on a project for the military to create and institute a stress reduction program. For fun and stress relief Dr. Gruver does flying trapeze and hip hop dance.
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