Dr. Megan Spencer is passionate about providing therapy for children (ages 12+), therapy for adults, and therapy for families. She finds joy in helping people better understand themselves and their psychological functioning; and is excited to work with anyone looking to better understand and/or improve themselves or their children and families. In addition to individual therapy, Dr. Spencer provides diagnostic and psychological evaluations.
Featuring Dr. Megan Spencer, Psychologist, Dakota Family Services
Welcome to Mind Your Mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services, an outpatient behavioral health clinic located in Minot, Bismarck, and Fargo North Dakota. In this podcast, I will talk with our experts about understanding and nurturing our mental health and wellness. I'm your host, Tim Unsinn. Join me each episode. As we explore the intricacies of our minds, decrease the stigma of mental illness. Learn practical tips for managing our mental health and wellbeing and recognize when it's time to ask for help. Join me now to mind your mind. Welcome to this episode of Mind Your Mind.
Our guest is Dr. Megan Spencer. Dr. Spencer is a clinical psychologist and provides diagnostic and psychological evaluations and CBT in Fargo. Dr. Spencer, it is great to have you on.
Hi. It's great to be here. Thanks for having me.
Well today, we're going to be talking about self-care and family care. However, before we get to the topic, there's always that first question I ask all of our guests and that is why do you do what you do?
It's as simple as the fact that I really, really do enjoy helping people. I love helping them figure out why they're feeling the way that they're feeling, helping them understand themselves better and understand some of the things that they're doing and why they're doing it.
All right today, talking self-care and family care. And I can't imagine anyone really that's not feeling just a little bit stressed or feeling like life's just a little bit chaotic right now. So if we're feeling like that and our life's in chaos, what can we do?
It's really important that once you recognize that, that you sort of stop yourself in that moment and figure out what you can do to get yourself in some sort of routine, right? So the problem is we feel like we have so many things to do every day, that week, that month. And so trying to focus on everything at once can be really overwhelming. And so if you're feeling like chaos, it's so important to just sit down, get a piece of paper and start giving yourself some structure and routine. What do you want to accomplish in the morning? What do you want to accomplish during your day, during your evening? And that way you can give yourself that structure. So you can incorporate those things that are important, but not feel so overwhelmed by them.
So what are some tips or ideas for us? You know, I'm thinking about if I'm overwhelmed, I often don't think about the things that distract me. So what are some tips maybe to bring me back to creating that distraction from the chaos?
So there's a few things you can do if, if we're, you know, if we're focused on creating a routine and structure, that's really looking at, okay, what time do I want to get up in the morning? Right. And what are the things that are really important for me to accomplish? Maybe that's I need to, I would really like to exercise in the morning, right? That's going to help distract from your own stress, but also helps you to feel like you're already starting out your day by doing something positive. And then it's okay, what time do I want to get the kids up? Then I can help the kids, right? Get some structure and some routine. That way I know what they're doing, I know what I need to accomplish. And that way we can all be on the same page. Now, if you're talking about individual distraction, go back to those things that if you think back to times when it was less stressful and those things that you really enjoy and you love doing, and just made you happy, think about those things and how you can not only incorporate those things into your structure and routine.
Right. But also if you're feeling so overwhelmed, just stop for that moment and take some time to, you know, 10 or 15 minutes of reading or listening to some music or going and spending time with pets. Right. If you have them, because pets are amazing. And they're so comforting,
We are in that point of, of, you know, finding, looking for distractions, we're finding our own, self-help in doing that. What are the rules and guidelines? If we see someone else in chaos, how do we approach that situation without being like, I know it all, you know?
Yep. You know, usually I say, you know, put yourself in their place, right. And so if you notice maybe it's your spouse, or maybe it's your son or your daughter, or even a parent, right. Go to them and just say, look, you know, I've been feeling really overwhelmed and this is what I did to help myself. So if, if you're feeling the same way that I am, because I know a lot of people are, think about something that you really love and just incorporating that in your day.
Well, I think at two, we talking about, you know, self care and family care, we're talking a lot about our own self care at this point. But how about that, that family chaos? What are some ideas there?
So here's something that's kind of cool, you know, with people spending a lot more time indoors with their families, they've started some new routines, like more family dinners or having a family game night or a family movie night, right. That not only helps to de-stress, but it's fun. And you, you know, if you're having family dinners and you plan those out a couple of nights a week, that's a way to connect. And if one of the kids are struggling, that's their opportunity to say, Hey mom, or, Hey dad, you know, this was really hard for me this week, but open it up by you saying it too. By the parents modeling for the kids to talk about the stress, but incorporating those opportunities to sit down as a family and just reconnect.
Or the family that is extremely extroverted. The technology today is, is just so easy to do a group connection time on zoom or Skype or FaceTime. So bring that social time together and maybe eliminate some chaos that way.
Yes, absolutely. And even with extended family that, you know, even before all of this spending more time indoors and sort of isolating in some degree, reconnect with those family members that are living in other that maybe you just didn't think about connecting through zoom in that way and doing family game nights. Cause there's some really cool technology out there that you can do through apps and zoom where you can play games over zoom with other family members or,
And I heard somebody share an idea once about doing puzzle competition. So each family gets the same puzzle ready, set, go. And it's
Awesome. Yes, definitely.
All right. So what are some other helpful coping tips or other statements we can use in the process?
So one thing, honestly, I really, I teach a lot of people that I see when they're feeling kind of panicky or overwhelmed. And in that moment, there's a grounding exercise. That's really simple and really easy to do. And it's something that you can do anywhere. And to be honest, people don't really even know you're doing it. And so this can be a really good way to ground yourself and calm yourself if you're feeling overwhelmed or kind of extra anxious or panicky. And what it is is it's, it's using your senses and it's five, four, three, two, one. And so five is five things you can see. Four things you can touch. Three things you can hear. Two things you can smell. And one thing you can taste. And so what that's doing is it's grounding you in your environment versus you focusing on that panicky, that anxious, that overwhelmed feeling. And so what it does is it helps calm you.
I love that five four, three, two one. So now I'm the guy that says NC squirrel. So I caught five. So one more time for us is a five, four, three, two. Yeah,
Absolutely. So it's five things. You can see four things, you can touch three things. You can hear two things you can smell. And one thing you can taste. I was like mealtime at the house.
Other people will use like gum or mints or little mini chocolates once they get to that point. And you can do this over and over again until you feel yourself calm.
You're listening to mind your mind. Our guest is Dr. Megan, Spencer and Dr. Spencer, any other thoughts on self-care? Family care?
Last thing is just brief statements. You can tell yourself in a moment like this won't last forever. This too shall pass. I can handle this, right? Those can be soothing and calming statements that can help in a split second
Thinking, pick up a history book and just look at history and yeah, things are going to be okay. It's all going to calm down. It'll all be better. So thank you so much for your time. However, before we go, before we wrap up, there's that final question that we ask all of our guests. What do you do to personally mind your mind?
I do a few things. Luckily I have three dogs at my house and I definitely love spending time with them and they are wonderful, wonderful companions on top of that. I love to spend time obviously with my child and my husband, and we go to the lakes on the weekend, which is sort of my peaceful place and where I just let go of all my work and everything. And I can just really relax. Other than that on a day-to-day basis, it's really about leaving work at work. And when I walk out that door, I do my best to leave it in my office.
It has been a pleasure. Thank you for sharing your time and your talent with us on Mind Your Mind. Thank you for helping me have a good day. Thank you for joining us for Mind your Mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services. You can't have health without behavioral health. Remember to Mind Your Mind. For more information links, to additional resources, contact information, and much more go to Dakotafamilyservices.org.
People tend to perceive risk as being inherently negative. But for teenagers, risk-taking is a healthy, normal, and important part of growing up. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn talks to Vanessa Lien, Nurse Practitioner, about creating a safe environment for your teenager to take risks—and knowing when to step in when they start taking risks that could result in serious and long-term negative consequences.;
Fifteen-25% of American students have experienced bullying. And cyberbullying is on the rise. Children who experience bullying suffer from long-lasting effects including depression, anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, low academic achievement, and more. Children engaging in bullying behavior are impacted as well. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Dakota Family Services therapist, April Morris, LMSW, talks about the impact of bullying and what parents can do to help.;
Children experience grief over many things—the loss of a loved one, moving away from their friends, the death of a pet. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Lucas Mitzel, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about the stages of grief, and how to walk your child through the grieving process. He will also talk about ways to determine if your child needs to see a professional who can help them untangle the many emotions of grief.;
In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Christy Wilkie about suicide warning signs and things you can do to make a difference. Christy, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, wants to normalize conversations about suicide so people don't feel like they are suffering alone. She says, "There is never a reason to not ask the question, 'Hey, are you OK?' Asking the question can save a life.";
In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Dr. Wayne Martinsen. Dr. Martinsen, Medical Director and Psychiatrist at Dakota Family Services, defines wellness as more than just the absence of disease, but as a state of well-being. In this episode he will share current wellness research, questions to ask to determine your own well-being, and steps you can take to achieve and maintain wellness.;
When someone in our life has cancer, it's difficult to know what to say or how to help. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn talks to April Morris about how you can best support a friend or loved one who has cancer. Morris, an outpatient therapist at Dakota Family Services, shares tips for knowing what/what not to say, and actions that speak louder than words.;
Sleep is just as important for mental health as it is physical health. During sleep, our brains process our memories, emotions, and other information. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," April Morris tells us why sleep is so important for overall well-being and encourages us to prioritize sleep. April, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, provides practical tips for improving sleep hygiene so you can live your best life.;
Stress does not discriminate, and it comes in many shapes and forms. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Dr. Megan Spencer talks about ways to identify and listen to the stress in our bodies. Learn relaxation techniques for managing stress over time, self-care routines that decrease negative stress, and things you can do to bring calm into your life.;
Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our well-being. Exercise increases our mental alertness, energy, and positive mood. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Christy Wilkie, therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about how movement, even for five minutes, can promote changes in the brain that lead to neural growth, reduced inflammation, and feelings of calm and well-being. Listen now to learn more about how moving your body can improve your mental health.;
Diagnosing children with a mental health-related condition can be controversial. Many worry this gives children a label that is set in stone and will follow them around their entire lives. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Dr. Wayne Martinsen talks about the role of diagnosis in getting children the help they need. Martinsen encourages us to think about mental health diagnoses the same as we do any health diagnosis. If you go the doctor and they diagnose you with strep throat, that doesn’t mean you’ll have strep throat forever, or that you are a strep throat victim. It just means that you have a collection of symptoms that point to strep throat, and the doctor will use that diagnose to provide the appropriate treatment.;
ADHD is diagnosed and treated at a much higher rate than in the past, especially in the United States. Why? In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Dr. Wayne Martinsen, Psychiatrist/Medical Director at Dakota Family Services, explains how the changing world has made it harder for people with shorter attention spans to be successful. In the past, if school was hard for you, you could get a job, work your way up, and live a middle-class lifestyle. Not so in today’s world. Learn more about this fascinating take on ADHD.;
In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Christy Wilkie about the Feelings Wheel*. Christy, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, says humans experience 34,000 different feelings! She demonstrates how to use the Feelings Wheel to help you identify your emotions so you can control the behaviors associated with them. *Adapted by classtools.net from the Emotional Wheel. The Emotional Wheel was developed by American psychologist, Dr. Robert Plutchik.;
In today's episode of "Mind Your Mind," Vanessa Lien, Nurse Practitioner, talks about the many changes occurring in the teen brain. The teenage brain is highly susceptible to stress, but it is also very resilient. Learn coping strategies you can teach your teen to protect their brains and help them cope with stress and emotional struggles.;
Going back to school after summer vacation can be a stressful time for both kids and parents. The transition from the unstructured summer to a more regimented routine can lead to stress and anxiety. Worries about fitting in, bullying, homework, getting to school on time, and dealing with peer pressure are all additional stressors that may weigh on children when it's time to go back to school. In this episode of “Mind Your Mind,” Tim Unsinn speaks with Therapist Falan Johnson. Falan helps us understand why back to school anxiety is common, provides strategies for managing the added stress, and shares resources parents can use to prepare their children for the new school year.;
The grief of losing a friend or loved one to suicide is complicated and can be especially difficult. In addition to the grief, sadness, and loneliness of any loss, people might experience guilt, confusion, rejection, anger, and shame. The stigma of suicide complicates it even more, often preventing survivors talking about their loss or getting the help they need. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Tim Unsinn visits with Dakota Family Services' therapist, Christy Wilkie. Christy helps listeners understand the complicated nature of suicide grief and how to move through it with compassion and self-acceptance.;
You will be shocked at the seemingly safe places predators can connect with your children online. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Lucas Mitzel, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about the things you need to know to keep your children safe. Learn the many websites and platforms used to target children, how to monitor their internet usage, and how to talk to your children about the dangers.;
Pregnancy and the birth of a child can be a joyous and exciting time, but some women struggle with their mental health as they transition to motherhood. Depression, anxiety, and other pregnancy-related mental health conditions may surface during or after pregnancy. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Tim Unsinn speaks with Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Megan Spencer. Dr. Spencer helps us understand the common symptoms and causes of postpartum depression, as well as what to do if you think you may be experiencing it.;
Did you know that in addition to calming and focusing our minds, meditation can improve our physical health? In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn visits with Dr. Wayne Martinsen, Psychiatrist, Dakota Family Services, about the surprising health benefits of meditation. A regular meditation practice can increase longevity, reduce the risk of dementia, reduce inflammation, and play a significant role in the treatment of high blood pressure and immune disorders. Learn about the many forms of meditation and how you can start your own meditation practice today.;
Anxiety and depression are invisible illnesses—meaning they don't have outward symptoms visible to others. Because they are invisible, they are often hard for people to explain. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Host Tim Unsinn visits with April Morris, LCSW, Therapist, Dakota Family Services. April references the spoon theory of chronic illness created by Christine Miserandino, an award-winning writer, blogger, speaker, and lupus patient advocate. Listen now to learn more about spoons as a metaphor for energy and how you can use them to understand and explain anxiety and depression.;
While we hear a lot about autism in the news, many of us still have misconceptions about its causes and symptoms. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, therapist Falan Johnson dispels some of these misconceptions and explains the three levels of autism. Johnson then focuses on the least understood level—high functioning autism. Learn how to identify symptoms of high functioning autism in your child, the importance of early intervention, and ways you can support them.;
In this episode of Mind Your Mind, therapist April Morris talks about boundaries. April will define boundaries, explain their importance, and help you set boundaries that match your values and strengthen your relationships. Learn how healthy boundaries can improve your mental and physical health, and how you can say “no” respectfully.;
Going through infertility tests and treatments can be an extremely difficult and lonely time for couples. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Lucas Mitzel talks about his own experience. He also shares tips for couples struggling with infertility, and for friends and family members who want to be supportive but don’t know what to say or do.;
In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn talks to Therapist Falan Johnson about panic attacks. What do they feel like? What causes them? How can you prevent or manage them? Listen now to learn more and discover techniques that might work for you or your loved one.;
Are you concerned about your child's mental health but aren't sure what to do? Join Host Tim Unsinn and his guest, Therapist Jesse Lamm, as they discuss ways you can support your child through a difficult time.;
Are the stresses of college (constant worry, fitting in, lack of sleep, etc.) affecting your ability to function? Join Host Tim Unsinn and his guest, April Morris, LCSW, as they discuss ways to manage or eliminate the stressors that are impacting your well-being.;
Are you struggling to get enough sleep each night? Maybe you have difficulty falling and staying asleep. You can't get comfortable. You feel anxious and your brain just won't shut off. According to the Sleep Foundation, over one-third of adults in the U.S. sleep for less than seven hours a night. Join Host Tim Unsinn and his guest, April Morris, LCSW, in this episode of "Mind Your Mind," as they discuss how insomnia can affect many other areas of your life, as well as practical tips to improve your sleep hygiene.;
It's not unusual for children to have temper tantrums or for adolescents to be angry. But when they become out of proportion to the situation in intensity and duration, your child might be suffering from a mood disorder. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn visits with Dr. Megan Spencer, a psychologist at Dakota Family Services. Listen now to learn how to distinguish between normal mood changes and mood disorders, and some steps you can take to help your child.;
Resilience is not a personality trait or characteristic. Resilience isn't ignoring or emotional numbing or pretending that a problem doesn't exist. And being resilient doesn’t mean we won’t face adversity. Rather, resilience is our ability to bounce back from adversity. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Dr. Megan Spencer, psychologist at Dakota Family Services, shares ten ways to build resilience so you are ready when adversity strikes.;
You can probably think of a dozen things that make you feel sad. Sadness is a normal human emotion that helps us process the events in our lives. But what is "normal" sadness? When does sadness move from "normal" to something you may need help processing? In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Falan Johnson, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, will answer these questions and more. Learn the importance of allowing yourself to feel sad so you can move past it, and, when it might be time to seek professional help.;