Dr. Reagan Gurung and Joey Flores join the show to discuss, mental well-being, and how to prioritize it in life. Dr. Gurung explains his background in, pedagogical psychology, and how it relates to, mental health, and learning. He emphasizes the importance of taking care of, mental health, and provides practical tips such as getting enough sleep, practicing slow breathing, or breathwork and giving oneself mental space.
Joey Flores discusses the intersection of, digital culture, and, forensic psychology, highlighting the influence of social media and internet cultures on behavior and, mental health. The conversation also explores the benefits of spending time in nature for, mental well-being, and the importance of social support networks.
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- Mental health exists on a spectrum, and it is important to seek help if feelings of distress persist for two weeks or more.
- Prioritizing, mental well-being, involves getting enough sleep, practicing slow breathing, and giving oneself mental space.
- Digital culture has influenced forensic psychology by investigating behavior in cyberspace and assisting law enforcement in keeping digital communities safe.
- Spending time in nature can improve, positive emotions, cognition, and overall well-being.
- Social support networks are crucial for mental health and well-being.
About The Guest(s):
- Dr. Reagan Gurung is a social psychologist and award-winning author with a background in social health and psychology. He is an assistant professor of psychology and associate vice provost and executive director at Oregon State University. Dr. Gurung is one of the authors of the book “Everyday Applications of Psychological Science: Hacks to Happiness and Health.”
- Joey Flores is a psychology scholar and writer on psychology, law, and digital culture. He has a background in applied psychology and forensic psychology. Flores has contributed to publications such as HuffPost and Yahoo News, and his work has been sourced in various media outlets. He has also written about women’s health in publications like Glamour, The Standard, Readers Digest, and Psychology Today.
Myrna: So I hope that we’re going to have a really good conversation today. We’re focusing on mental well being and how we can prioritize it in life. So as I start off, I’m going to start with Dr. Reagan. You have a background in pedagogical Psychology. This is the first time that I’ve heard that term. Can you explain what that is, please?
Pedagogical health and mental well-being
Dr Gurung: Absolutely. So pedagogical is really all about teaching, and learning is one easy way to think about it. And in my role as both executive director for the center for Teaching and Learning and also as a professor of psychology, I study those factors that help students learn. And that’s a big focus of my recent years, is really looking at what are those factors that really help somebody learn? And that’s why it dovetails very well with mental health, because if you are not happy, if you are stressed, well, you’re not going to learn well. So as a health psychologist, I studied stress and coping.
Absolutely. So pedagogical is really all about teaching, and learning is one easy way to think about it. And in my role as both executive director for the center for Teaching and Learning and also as a professor of psychology, I study those factors that help students learn. And that’s a big focus of my recent years, is really looking at what are those factors that really help somebody learn? And that’s why it dovetails very well with mental health, because if you are not happy, if you are stressed, well, you’re not going to learn well. So as a, health psychologist, I studied stress and coping.
Also as a teacher, as somebody who teaches 400 students a term, mental health is important. And I’ve now started thinking about how can we make sure that that environment that the student is in, that people are in in general, is also a happy one so that they’ll be in a better position to learn.
Myrna: Well, that’s good. You’re right, because if your mind is cluttered with all kinds of things, nothing is going to come through it. So how do you help them with this word? Say the word. Yeah. You said the word again, right? Yeah. Explain how, if you’re in school, how you would help someone learn better with focusing on this kind of psychology, right?
We need mental well-being to learn
Dr Gurung: So the pedagogical notion really is all about teaching, learning. And this is how does a student study? How does a teacher instruct? Do you use outlines? Well, do you have them practice things in a certain way? And one of my main interest and Folk Eye, is beyond looking at content, because I think so often in school, there’s so much emphasis on content. You’ve got to memorize or you’ve got to understand or you’ve got to know this book, right?
And I think so often when we focus in on a book or on content, we forget about the other factors that influence attention. And I think you put your finger on it, you can’t pay attention if you’re stressed, you can’t concentrate if there are lots of things going on in your life. And when I look out at my classes and if I’ll see a student sitting there with a frown on their face, well, I may think, oh, they’re not understanding this material.
But sometimes it’s not just they can’t understand the material or it’s difficult material. Sometimes there are things going on in my life that don’t allow me to focus. So that’s why I love the topic of this show, because I think if we don’t really pay attention to how we feel, how we’re doing, whether it’s school or work or even our close relationships, they are not going to go as well. We’ve got to take care of those mental health issues.
Myrna: Mr. Flores. So one of the questions I want to ask you is your work is on, digital culture, and, forensic psychology. So how does, digital culture, influence, forensic psychology, and what exactly is a, digital culture?
What is a digital culture?
Joey: So, forensic psychology, has become affected by, digital culture, in recent years, mainly due to the rise of social media and, internet cultures. Forensic psychologists, they now delve into investigating behavior in cyberspace and also assisting law enforcement agencies with keeping our digital landscapes and communities safe. It’s an interesting part of the role of, forensic psychologists, and it continues to be the subject of rigorous academic research.
Numerous health conditions that affect well being, such as Internet addictions, they’ve actually been discovered as a result of investigating pro social and antisocial behaviors and digital cultures. So a digital culture can be defined as it can be defined as a community, or it could be defined as a group within an online domain. For example, it could be a group within a social networking site like Facebook, or it can be a community board, for example, Reddit or Fortune.
Examples of online communities or digital cultures.
Myrna: Okay, yes, I got that now. Right? Yeah, that is definitely a culture. All right, so what is forensic psychology? When I’m hearing forensic, I’m thinking of deceased or debt. So how does marriage it so digital culture like Facebook or Instagram, did I marry them correctly? Why am I lumping them together?
Forensic psychology, is the intersection with the legal system and psychology. And there is a type of psychology called cyberpsychology, and there is also one called, cyber forensic psychology, which is basically investigating behavior in digital cultures.
Myrna: Okay, does mental well being fit into that at all?
How does mental well-being affect digital cultures
Joey: Well, mental well being is investigated within digital cultures, within digital landscapes, but that’s not primarily the type of work that forensic psychologists do. I’ve written about mental well being. I’ve written about woman’s health. I’ve written about mindfulness meditation. I’ve written a lot about that before I began studying forensic psychology.
Myrna: All right, sounds excellent. All right, so, Dr. Gurung, let me go back to you. So you do a lot of work with mental well being. Can you give us a few tips on how to take care of one’s mental well being? I know we talked in the beginning regarding taking care of your parasympathetic nervous system and with the vagus nerve or anything. Is there anything else you can do to help with your mental well being?
Dr Gurung: So in addition to slow breathing, I think, and in addition to the very important caution to go get help if you’ve not been feeling well for a time. In addition to that, I think one of the biggest things that really stresses us out is when we don’t plan well. And I think one of the best things we can do is examine our day to day lives, our weekly lives, and look at are you somebody who often plans things and ends up doing it at the last moment?
All those kind of things really can influence our stress levels. So there are a couple of different domains that I like to think about it as. And in answering your question, we can look at the different areas of our life, our work lives, our relationships, and family lives. And in each of those, I think very often you will see the importance of planning. Do you have a good plan for when to get work done?
Prioritizing mental well-being
Have you explicitly planned to spend time with those you really care about? Some of us focus so much on the work side that we don’t give our friends and family enough time.
My priority is my family, my wife and my kids. They’re my top priority. But my students come soon after that. Right after my friends there’s family and kids and friends and then my students. I care a lot about what I do and them. But because of that very clear priority, even though I work to get papers graded on time or feedback given on time, because of that very clear, explicit priority, if my wife or my kids need something, I am okay with delaying feedback, with giving papers back a little bit later.
Myrna: So, Dr. Grung, let’s expand on mindfulness. You mentioned a while back about one of the ways that we can prioritize well being in our life is by mindfulness. So do you think that mindfulness is really effective?
Dr Gurung: Oh, absolutely. And it’s not just do I think the research also and that’s always nice when the data backs up what a person thinks, but yeah, absolutely. There are a range of, mindfulness strategies and techniques, and mind you, when I say there’s a range you’re probably familiar with, whether it’s guided imagery or a slow muscle relaxation, there are just so many ways you can practice mindfulness. And there is strong data on pretty much every technique of mindfulness relating to positive health outcomes.
And when I say positive health outcomes, it gets even better than that. We’re talking about productivity increases. We’re talking about quality of life. We’re talking about ability to focus, ability to concentrate. Mindfulness, whichever flavor of it that you practice goes a long way, and I think you mentioned this, but there are so many types of mindfulness, even when you think about prayer, for example, when you talk about prayer, when you take a walk and just listen to music, when you focus on nature, right. There’s a wonderful term that comes from work in Japan on forest bathing, where the idea is you’re literally bathing in nature.
Spending time in nature affects mental well-being
Myrna: So how can spending time in nature be beneficial for one’s mental health well being? Now, Dr. Gruin also talked a minute ago about a nature bath, so maybe you can expand on that, or maybe you have something else.
Joey: So to understand whether spending time in nature can be beneficial to one’s well being, an evolutionary perspective may be the most useful to consider. We humans are worse social animals and have always maintained connectedness to nature that strongly reinforces our psychological and social health. Given our strong, long standing connection to the natural environment, which stems from an innate need to associate with other forms of life.
It is widely believed that walking in nature, even if it’s just for about ten minutes, it could improve positive effect and cognition. Edward Wilson, which introduced a theory of innate nature connectedness, he called it biophilia hypothesis in a 19th century book he published, presumably as social animals, proximity to nature implies greater access to food and fresh water, which is an evolutionary trait that continues to define human behavior as part of a primitive institutional desire.
So, in a sense, the interdependence between humans in a natural environment is essential. Without it, psychological health would suffer similar to how our respiratory health would suffer from, like, a lack of exposure to perennial plants like trees. There is a lot of studies that were published on this subject, and it basically concludes that spending time in nature is beneficial to well being. There are numerous ways in which a connection to nature can transform the mind.
Positive emotions and mental well-being
It can help foster, positive emotions. It could help with life satisfaction, self acceptance, self esteem, self awareness, subjective well being can all be enhanced by practicing mindfulness in a natural environment. So spending time in nature does not need to require walking, jogging, or hiking through expansive green spaces, simply purchasing organic foods, becoming vegan, or installing office windows with, like, a nice view of nature.
Myrna: All right, guys, so we’ve had a great conversation. Thank you so much for being on the show. Before we go, so, Dr. Reagan, you’ve got two books. You can mention them again and tell people how they can get a copy of them. And if you’re on social media, what are your social media handles?
Dr Gurung: Yeah, actually, the one I started off talking about was Study Like a Champ. And the other one is Psychological Hacks to Happiness and Health. And the easiest way is just search by my last name, Gurung, first name Regan. You can just search for that on Amazon. You’ll bring up all my recent stuff and the easiest for a whole list. My social media handle is https://www.instagram.com/rargurung/
Myrna: Awesome, thank you. All right, Mr. Flores, so tell us about how listeners can connect with you. I know you’ve got a book coming out in the fall, so you want to talk about that?
Joey: Yeah, so I have a book that’s going to be released in the fall of this year. It’s called A short Introduction to Psychology.
Instagram and Twitter and Twitter at It’s joseflora and also I have a website. Joeyflorez.com .