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“There is still too much taboo surrounding mental health issues” with Shin-Di Lai and Dr. William Seeds

Mental health — as an acupuncturist, there is a direct and important relationship between the physical and mental/emotional. One will affect the other. Sadly, there is not enough support around mental health. There is still too much taboo surrounding mental health issues. As a result, people don’t look to support mental health and therefore do […]

Mental health — as an acupuncturist, there is a direct and important relationship between the physical and mental/emotional. One will affect the other. Sadly, there is not enough support around mental health. There is still too much taboo surrounding mental health issues. As a result, people don’t look to support mental health and therefore do not look to mental health services as an option for fear of being labeled a certain way. I believe that how healthy we feel about ourselves, how much we love ourselves makes us the most equipped to meet our goals, overcome challenges, go for what we want and not stagnate ourselves. We need our mental health to be healthy.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Shin-Di Lai, L.Ac, Dipl. O.M., RN, BSN, PHN . Shin completed her Master of Arts in Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as a clinical internship at Yo San University in Los Angeles. She also received her national certification through NCCAOM and her California Acupuncture License. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, focusing on Exercise Science at California State University, Northridge. She obtained her second Bachelor’s degree in Nursing at California State University, Dominguez Hills. She is also a Registered Nurse. She currently practices acupuncture in the Encino area. She is also a school nurse in Chatsworth, CA As a Licensed Acupuncturist and Registered Nurse, Shin-Di combines her medical training and holistic practice to focus on developing healthy and supportive relationships with clients. Her training and background integrates Eastern and Western Medicine to offer the best of both medicines to enhance the health and wellness of individuals. She specializes in Fertility Acupuncture, sports medicine, endocrinology and pain. She offers Chinese herbal, nutritional and lifestyle consultations utilizing evidence based practice, information and sources. Shin-Di is a Los Angeles native. She is an avid sports fan having been an athlete herself. She was a three sport athlete participating in basketball, swimming and track. Her favorite teams are Lakers and Dodgers. She enjoys cooking and traveling to different cities and countries.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

Hi! My name is Shin-Di. I am proud to be a Los Angeles native. I have pretty much spent my life in Los Angeles. I am a Licensed Acupuncturist and Registered Nurse. I graduated high school from Chaminade High School. I graduated with my first bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from CSUN. My Master’s degree was from an LA based Traditional Chinese Medicine program, Yo San University. I graduated with my second Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Cal. State Univ. Dominguez Hills. In high school, I was a three sport athlete. I started all four years on varsity basketball. I have been a passionate sports fan my whole life. I pretty much watch and pay attention to all sports. My favorite teams are the Lakers and Dodgers. I’m becoming a fan of the Rams. I love to cook and travel. My favorite food to cook is a homemade chicken soup and lasagna. My favorite country to visit is Taiwan as most of my huge extended family are there. One of my most memorable trips was to Turkey. I also love being active and working out. I love to mix things up in addition to going to the gym. I like to try new workouts as well. If I’m not working, doing something work related, or working out, I’m looking to spend time with my friends and family. I am always down for a great conversation.

I have a private practice in Encino, CA. I specialize in fertility acupuncture as well as sports medicine. I help couples conceive naturally or with western fertility treatments like inseminations and in-Vitro treatments. I have worked alongside fertility doctors to understand the medications and protocols used to help couples and individuals throughout their journey. I also treat general conditions such as stress, pain, sleep issues, and endocrine disorders like diabetes. I work with athletes of all ages to focus on concentration, recovery time, recovery from injuries, and psychological and emotional aspect of competing. I also currently work as a school nurse. There, I help monitor Type 1 Diabetic children in addition to the different ailments that affect children.

In my practice, I focus on developing a trusting and healthy relationships with each of my clients. I feel that it is important to provide a safe space for my clients to come express, release, rest, relax, and gain benefit from with no judgment or expectation. I take my role as a healthcare practitioner very seriously in that aspect. I genuinely care for my clients to come take what they need from their treatments so that they can be better and continue to move forward in their lives in the best way possible. I feel this is what sets my practice apart from others.

Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?

1. Putting yourself as a priority. We are all worth it and we all deserve the best. So it’s worth the effort, money, time, and energy to put ourselves first and develop a self-care plan to make sure that we stay ready and can achieve our goals. For example, choose healthier food instead of going for what’s quick and easy. Spend the extra couple of dollars or the extra few minutes to go get healthier, wholesome food. On the days you’re tired and want to go home and plop on the couch, go get that workout in and catch and second wind. And take it moment by moment, day by day. Each time you give to yourself and love yourself healthily that way, you benefit and get better each time. Overtime, it will be easier. Be committed to yourself the way you are to your partner/relationship/children/family.

2. Have a self-care plan. Life is going to throw us curve balls every once in a while. We all have good days and bad days. Sometimes we go through longer periods of stress and hardship. We have stressful jobs and we all have responsibilities that we need to take care of. Having a self-care plan/practice will give us outlets and modalities to help us maintain balance and help us get through each day, rough patches, and stress. We will feel less overwhelmed and will be able to get through these moments better. We have better stamina as a result. Make your self-care plan specific to you. It doesn’t need to be what is being promoted or what the latest trend is. Your self-care plan should include anything that will give you joy and fulfillment. For one person, it is going to the gym. For the next person, it’s drawing or painting. Find what works for you, what’s realistic for you to implement, and love yourself utilizing those modalities.

3. Wellness not illness. This is the motto I live and practice by. When we think of our health, what do we do to maintain the best level of wellness? What does our well-being mean on mental, psychological, emotional and physical levels? What can we do on a regular basis to prevent illness form occurring? I think that we often times wait until we are ill to become well. But there is so much power in being well to prevent becoming ill. I like to implement healthy habits to promote my wellness so that I continue to be healthy and balanced. I welcome the positivity of being well with the intention to keep illness away.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

On a medical level, I had a young girl (10 years old) who had been recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. This is a life-long diagnosis that depends on how well an individual manages their blood sugars for life. The better the levels, the healthier the individual is. The family had zero understanding of the condition. Therefore, there was no understanding of lifestyle and diet/nutrition changes that had to be made. Patient education wasn’t done properly from her doctor’s office unfortunately. The young girl’s blood levels were consistently 250–400, which is extremely high. Her mother brought her to get acupuncture treatments out of desperation. Acupuncture can greatly help regulate blood sugar levels, but diet and lifestyle habits are going to be most important as these are daily habits. I focused on getting mom and the young girl to understand the difference between carbohydrates, protein and fats. I also equated eating healthier and exercising more to feeling better overall as the young girl was so tired and moody. With weekly treatments and weekly check-ins with food and activity, the young girl’s blood levels dropped to 100–150 consistently over the next 6 weeks. Her doctors were shocked. I’m not quite sure I was expecting to see such a drastic change either. The most interesting part of this case wasn’t about the medical treatment, but empowering my client through information/patient education and support. Allowing a young girl to still feel in control of her health and choices instead of controlling what she could or could not eat is powerful. That was the first time I experienced that and have since utilized this philosophy in my practice.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Never lose your voice. Stand up for what you want. Don’t underestimate yourself. When I first started, I worked for another acupuncturist to gain experience and also to have zero overhead costs. While I learned a lot on the job, my compensation was terrible. It wasn’t until I was fed up that I said something to my boss. By that time, I was already checked out from the job. While I don’t think I was meant to be in that practice long term, I know I could have utilized my voice to start having discussions sooner so that I didn’t leave out of anger and subject myself to so much emotional stress for more than six months. That was not a healthy choice.

In another situation, I was renting space from a fertility clinic. I felt that because I was paired up with a clinic, it held a lot of prestige. However, over time, it was clear that the doctors did not value me and that I was just “fluff” for them to say that they offered complimentary services to make their practice look better. But the reality was that they kept taking rooms and space away from me. I started with three rooms, then down to two. Then they split my rooms, one upstairs and one downstairs. Then they took the downstairs room away so I was left with one. Then they wanted to take my office away and wanted to double my rent. I knew that what they were doing was unfair. But, I was trying to hold off until finishing nursing school. It was creating lots of complications for me in terms of patient availability. I also didn’t have anywhere to go during patient treatments because one of the doctors had taken my office way. As a primary care practitioner, I should not be disrespected that way. What I learned from that situation is that I cannot try to take it easy for the sake of being comfortable. I cannot be afraid of going for what I want especially if it involves some risks that are worth it. After moving into my own space, my practice has flowed and energetically opened up much more. Hind sight, I was stagnating myself.

When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

I think the work I do on a small, individual scale eventually spreads to a bigger scale. I feel that the way I support my clients as they come in for treatment, helps them on physical and emotional levels. When my clients see, feel, and understand the positive changes that occur and implement the habits into their lives, the knowledge and practice spreads to their co-workers, families, etc. The hope is that the ripple effect continues to grow.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My father has been a great role model for me. He has always provided me guidance to the best of his ability. He had his own business and was very successful. I saw the hard-work, commitment, and persistence he put into his business. He never made any excuses. He also instilled realistic and practical values in me. I believe that all of these qualities combined give me a great combination of drive, motivation, and business intelligence to be grounded in. I definitely get my hustle abilities from my parents.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Having a self-care plan. If I could help individuals come up with a plan of action they can use to help maintain balance on a regular basis and also provide ways to check in and monitor how the plan of action is working for them to make necessary tweaks, that would be so amazing. Offering resources, groups, individual meetings to discuss what a realistic plan looks like is one aspect. Going over specifics of a person’s life to know where there is room for improvement or times where their self-care plan can be implemented so that having a self-care plan does not fee like another task/chore is necessary. There is a lot of information out there. Everyone swears by one thing or another. However, what the plan actually looks like for each individual is different. My movement would be about how to bridge the gap between all of the different modalities that could be used and which ones each person will realistically implement. Helping people live their best lives gives me ultimate joy.

What are your “3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

1. It’s ok to ask for help. When you are starting off by yourself, you have to wear a lot of job duty hats. Asking for help does not mean you are incapable. You are actually brave and smart for being realistic and also not burning yourself out.

2. Patience, persistence, being proactive — having your own practice requires you to sacrifice time, you are in it for the long term, you need to grow and nourish it, you have to figure it out, you have to adapt, you have to be willing, you have to take risks.

3. Have some extra cash in case you have slower periods and need some cash to cover all of your expenses.

Do you have a “girl-crush” in this industry? If you could take one person to brunch, who would it be? (Let another “woman in wellness” know that you respect her as a teacher and guide! )

I don’t have a specific girl-crush in the industry, but I am always in support of women in wellness. We are the world’s mothers and nurturers. We will always be needed. I appreciate each one of us and want all of us to inspire, grow, and thrive.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Mental health — as an acupuncturist, there is a direct and important relationship between the physical and mental/emotional. One will affect the other. Sadly, there is not enough support around mental health. There is still too much taboo surrounding mental health issues. As a result, people don’t look to support mental health and therefore do not look to mental health services as an option for fear of being labeled a certain way. I believe that how healthy we feel about ourselves, how much we love ourselves makes us the most equipped to meet our goals, overcome challenges, go for what we want and not stagnate ourselves. We need our mental health to be healthy.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Website: www.shindilai.com

Instagram: sdl.acurn

Facebook: Shin-Di Lai Acupuncture or shindilaiacu

Yelp: Shin-Di Lai Acupuncture

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/shin-di-cynthia-lai

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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