Dr. Lisa talks with Dr. Debbie Smrz ND about: some physical signs of anxiety to recognize in your kids and yourself; what “mirror” neurons are and how they can impact your mood; how heart rate variability can be used to track your health and optimize it; tools and techniques to manage anxiety; and how she helped her daughter heal from PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections), which was the trigger for her anxiety.

Heart rate variability is a health marker that is being touted as the next big thing to help assess (and guide treatment) stress resilience. And who doesn’t need more stress resilience in general, let alone during a pandemic!

Dr. Debbie is a certified Naturopathic Doctor, hypnotherapist, rugby coach and fitness instructor.  She studied meditation and Buddhism philosophy at the Suan Mokkh Monastery in Chiaya Thailand, German Biological medicine in Giessen Germany and holds annual Mindbody retreats with her mentor and Mother Wendy Schie.   She is an avid lecturer and motivational speaker, created Neuro Health and Fitness, a brain training centre for kids, as well as being the co-founder and director of Naturopathic Living, a large multidisciplinary clinic in Markham, Ontario where she lives with her husband, 2 children and dog.  Her daughter was diagnosed with PANDAs in 2016, so she has experience with mental health as a Naturopathic Doctor and as a mom.

In this episode, we cover:

  • How it’s not always easy to recognize anxiety in your kids and yourself, even while returning to school during a pandemic
  • That the mirror neurons in your child’s brain teaches them how to react to different situations
  • The difference between heart rate and Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
  • How HRV can be used as a way to teach breathing exercises and mindfulness to manage anxiety in your kids
  • The other possible benefits of using HRV to manage stress in adults include improving health outcomes around:
    • Digestion
    • Weight and metabolism
    • Depression
    • Diabetes
    • Metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease
  • Debbie’s personal experience with addressing the root cause of severe anxiety in her daughter by treating her for PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuro-psychiatric Disorder associated with Streptococcal Infection)
  • How neuroinflammation caused by various infections and digestive issues can be involved in mood disorders like anxiety
  • The difference between naming your emotions versus identifying with your emotions

Ways to measure HRV include:


Oura Ring

Elite HRV

Resource recommended by Debbie for tips to manage anxiety in your kids: 

Parenting Your Anxious Child with Mindfulness and Acceptance by Christopher McCurry

You can find Dr. Debbie at Naturopathic Living

Today’s Mama Must Have: 

Dr. Lisa loves her Zonli cooling weighted blanket for an anxiety-free sleep

Thank you for joining us today! 

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Stay safe everyone!