…Reducing how much media you watch or read per day. As humans, we are already feeling anxious about the current pandemic and the unknown. Watching the numbers go up or down can increase anxiety and stress over a situation we have no control over.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Regine Muradian.
Dr. Muradian is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, speaker, consultant and mental health advocate. In her clinical practice, Dr. Muradian works with children, adolescents, adults, and couples who present with a wide range of emotional, behavioral, and adjustment problems, such as depression, anxiety, relationship issues, Executive Functioning and ADHD. Dr. Muradian guides her clients to achieve inner peace first in order to discover where the conflict or stressor originates from.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Psychology was not the path I had in mind at all when I started undergraduate school. As young adults we think that our paths are defined and we think we know what we want to do, but I am the example of how career choices can shift. I attended USC, majoring in International Relations and Business Marketing. I recall people and even family asking, “What is that major? What can you do with that?” I often found myself having difficulty explaining the international world to others. This was the only world I knew as I grew up in several different countries. It made sense to me to dive into the familiar and what I loved at the time. I would often respond that my next step was to work for the United Nations fighting for children’s rights. International Relations was a go-to choice for me, as I am fluent in multiple languages.
As my senior year in college approached, I was offered a job in diplomacy but would have had me move to Washington D.C. At the time, moving from Southern California was not an option for me. I can recall as if it was yesterday sitting with my mentor, my head down in my lap saying, “What else can I do? Where can I go from here?” No one had answers for me. My fiancé at the time (my now husband) said, “Regine, you are so great with kids, you are a great listener, and everyone comes to talk to you. Have you thought about becoming a psychologist?” I laugh now, but at the time I was like, “A psychologist? Hmm, I never thought about that! Yes, that sounds like a great idea!”
In the spring of my senior year, I looked into some graduate programs and was told that since I had no psychology courses I would have to take multiple classes to even qualify to apply for graduate school in the fall. This did not discourage me at all, as I was adamant in starting that fall. So, my journey began and as I was finishing my spring courses at USC for my major, I attended 3 different colleges at the same time to get all the prerequisites I needed. Since then I have never looked back and feel grateful every day for this choice.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The most interesting story is of courage and determination. I hope to inspire others in never giving up. It was September, I was at home with my two girls (ages 2 and 4 at the time). There was a spill in my kitchen, and I slipped, flew in the air, and landed on my elbow. My left arm was fractured in several places. I remember staying strong and clenching in pain so my daughters wouldn’t see me suffering. I had to undergo surgery, and it was also a very important week as a close family member was getting married. As the surgeon was rolling me into surgery, I said smiling, “I will be able to go to the wedding, right? I will be ok in a couple of days?” The surgeon smiled and was trying to be positive but there was no way that was happening. I have been presented with many challenges in my life but this one sticks out the most as I had to take care of two children, study for my board license exam, and return to work all within 6 weeks of my surgery. I was told by my doctors and physical therapists that I will never have a fully functioning arm due to the damage. Well, I have to say that I stand today in full use of my arm and feeling great. I did not allow anyone to tell me what I could or could not do. The mind is such a powerful tool in self-healing. I did it all with no delays and that is when I realized that you can achieve anything you put your mind to no matter what challenges are presented in front of you. When you say you can do it you will! We often hold ourselves back, and the goal is to move forward and be gentle and loving to yourself.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
Passion and loving what you do is so important and vital. Personally, I am a multitasker and can handle many things at once without feeling stressed. However, not every person functions in this way. A common question I get is how to go about starting a private practice. Whether it is in my field or any other business, a good idea is to work in a similar environment to see if this is an area of interest. I have been in a private practice since 2010 and have enjoyed every minute of it. I also love working with people, teaching, and mentoring students. The person would need to assess the following:
- What type of environment do you thrive most in? Is it working with others or alone?
- If the person wants to focus on their own business, organization is key on how to start it up. Seeking another psychologist or person in your field and asking questions would be a good start.
- Self-care is very important in all fields to avoid burnout. Personally, I collaborate with many professionals in my field on a monthly basis. We share challenges and how to improve our practices.
- Taking a day off and doing something for yourself and setting a schedule is also significant to avoid burnout.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
I have held many hats — from makeup artist to working in the corporate world and now a psychologist. No matter what industry you are in, it is how you feel when you wake up in the morning that tells all. A healthy work culture is when everyone is able to work and collaborate together. It is vital that, as a leader, your ego is low and that you are able to meet your team members with empathy and compassion. The latter is not a weakness but a strength. Boundaries are another important tool to have, such as keeping your private life separate. As a leader — just like a parent — you are role modeling how you want things done. For example, as we are in a pandemic, if as a leader of my company I don’t wear a mask, how can I tell others to wear a mask? Another example is as we are all working from home on Zoom, parents and children alike, there may be more noise and distractions. Company leaders need to be flexible and compassionate towards their workers during these difficult times. People in general, whether in the workplace or in their personal lives, need to feel valued, appreciated and listened to. As a leader, I would also recommend respect and not devaluing a person — and especially not in front of other workers. This takes a lot of self-reflection, loving oneself, and treating others the way you would like to be treated.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I love reading, and a friend of mine several years back had gifted me “The Inner Matrix” by Joey Klein. The title was so intriguing but the message inside was even better, as it spoke to me in so many ways as if it was validating my way of practicing. One part of the book that sticks out the most is:
“We believe that our external world is the cause of our unhappiness, because we cannot see our internal state of being. The truth is, it is extremely difficult to see ourselves, without the right internal training and tools. Because we are unable to see inside ourselves, we can’t change what we can’t see.” -Joey Klein (2014)
This quote had me hooked as it explained exactly how I have been practicing, and I knew at that moment that it was the right direction. No matter what field or profession you are in, it is important to know who you are, what defines you, and what you want in your life. If you are unhappy, vocalize what you are unhappy about. There are solutions to how you feel, and we are our own roadblocks to these feelings. Looking internally at the little girl or boy inside us is the core of our issues. As a psychologist, it is important to do our own internal work — and this is what prevents us from taking on other people’s problems. When my last client of the day comes in (before quarantine,) they often ask, “Are you ok? Do you need a break?” Often my answer is, “Thank you for thinking of me but I am ok and love what I do so much. I am here for you right now at this moment.”
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious just from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
- Reducing how much media you watch or read per day. As humans, we are already feeling anxious about the current pandemic and the unknown. Watching the numbers go up or down can increase anxiety and stress over a situation we have no control over.
- Create a sense of normalcy such as a schedule and routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Get dressed as if you were going to work, even if your top is a dress shirt and your bottom are shorts, that’s ok. Take a break every few hours and have a set lunch time hour. Finishing your day at a certain time is important as well. People are working many more hours from home than when they were physically at their place of work.
- Exercise daily. It is vital to input about 30 minutes of brisk walking, running, whatever you prefer. My daughters and I have taken up running every day and I have never felt better.
- Meditate daily. My go-to site is www.marc.ucla.edu. Click on Free guided Meditations. You can start slow at 3 minutes then move up to 5 minutes. If you are having insomnia, there is a 13-minute sleep one that works well.
- Social distance weekly with 2–3 friends. You can meet at the park or anywhere outside. It is important during these times that we remain connected and create activities for ourselves to stay mentally and physically active.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Checking in with our friends and asking how they are is a good first step. If the person tells you that they are feeling anxious and are having trouble dealing with their daily routine and life, offer a way to support them. You can ask, “Do you feel the need to talk to someone? If they say yes, then www.psychologytoday.com is a great resource to refer them to. Many providers nowadays are on Zoom or other telehealth platforms.
- Identify what the problem is. For example, “I will not get into the school of my dreams,” or “I will not ace that presentation.”
- Ask yourself if this is a reasonable or unreasonable thought. I feel that this where people tend to get stuck as they feel it has to be one or the other. On the contrary, we can feel that the negative thought is reasonable and unreasonable at the same time. For example, “It is reasonable to think that I may not get into the school of my choice and it is unreasonable for me to stress and worry over something that I have no control in the moment.” If we remain in the unreasonable stage, we will set ourselves up for failure. However, if you ponder within yourself that both are a possibility, you can then proceed into the next step.
- Now, you can create a positive solution to the original problem. For example, “I know that I will need to study, turn in my assignments and do my best to set myself up for success. I can’t do better than my best so I will try and accept the path that comes my way.”
- Lastly, do one positive thing each day. This could be running, going for a walk, painting, writing, and/or yoga.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
- www.psychologytoday.com is a great resource people can turn to if they are feeling that their anxiety is taking over their daily functioning.
- Apps that are helpful are: Breethe: Meditation & Sleep, Calm, Colorfy, Worry Watch, Mindshift, ACT Coach, Headspace, and Sanvello to name a few. Look through these apps and use the one that you feel most connected to.
- My book, “Franky and The Worry Bees” is another resource. Although it is geared towards ages 8–13, my young adult clients have enjoyed the main character Franky and his tips. It will be released in eBook, and paperback on September 30, 2020.
- Self-Care is a very important tool to be mindful of, and I bring this up again as we do practice self-care enough. Oftentimes we do not put ourselves first. A question you can ask yourself is, “What do I like to do everyday that makes me feel good?” and sticking to that.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” — Maya Angelou.
I love this quote because not only do I teach it in my practice, but one I hold upon myself in my daily life. Oftentimes, people think that forgiving someone who has harmed you means accepting them back into your life. The forgiving part is for your inner self and happiness. Forgiveness and accepting someone back into your life has certain requirements. For example, if someone hurt your feelings or offended you in any way, talk to them about how you feel and let them know how much you value them. If the other person is able to apologize then another shot or chance into the relationship is worthy. Saying “sorry” is such a character strength because it shows that the person is recognizing their mistakes, and that they have empathy and value you as a person. On the other hand, if a person cannot apologize for the pain they caused after you express it clearly, nor able to recognize their mistakes or even meet you halfway, then perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate the relationship. Everyone has a right to their emotions and feelings. We each have our own journey to partake but at the end when you forgive, you are set free.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to see more mental health support in our schools, colleges, and workplaces. I believe that the mental health stigma has definitely decreased in the last ten years and that people are more open in sharing their problems. Generation Z are more outspoken, vocal and opinionated. I have seen this growth in the last 15 years and feel grateful to witness the change. Each experience and encounter in our lives has purpose and meaning. Nothing is just a coincidence. I love public speaking, teaching, and helping others achieve success. We are all unique and special in our own way and valuing one another without judgement is key to obtaining peace.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
You can follow me on Instagram @dr._regine_muradian and/or visit my website www.reginemuradian.com to learn more about me and my practice.