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Women In Wellness: Dr Rebecca Siegel On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Life can change in an instant. I had 3 kids in med school and it forced me to be resilient. I knew helping others was my calling in life, and I wasn’t going to let this challenge get in the way of that. Yes, it was hard, but it made the accomplishment all the more special. I believe life throws curveballs at you to test how bad you really want something. I’m glad I was able to accept the challenge and work with it, not against it.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Rebecca Siegel.

Dr. Rebecca Siegel is a clinical psychiatrist and author of the newly published book, The Brain on Cannabis: What You Should Know about Recreational and Medical Marijuana, a comprehensive and myth-busting guide on marijuana use and its effects on the brain. The book also addresses how to effectively talk to young people about recreational marijuana use based on her work as a physician who specializes in the assessment and treatment of anxiety, mood disorders, and ADHD.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I am a board certified Adult, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist. I have been a practicing clinical psychiatrist for almost 15 years and have been with Amen Clinics for more than 13 years. I recently wrote, The Brain on Cannabis: What You Should Know about Recreational and Medical Marijuana, a comprehensive and myth-busting guide on marijuana use and its effects on the brain. In the book, I review the full spectrum of marijuana’s benefits and risks. I also debunk myths surrounding cannabis while exploring the promises and risks of its many therapeutic possibilities. My passion for cannabis started when a patient came up to me and said cannabis changed her life. That made me curious to learn more and eventually I learned so much that I wanted to write a book. I knew that if I didn’t know enough, most people didn’t know enough. There are a lot of serious conversations about cannabis and its impact on the developing brain, which is why it is important for people to be equipped with the right information in order to make the best decision for their health. The goal of my book is to be a resourceful, credible tool for anyone curious about cannabis and I believe I have achieved that goal.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

It’s hard to pick just one story because every person that I meet teaches me something, but if I had to pick one, it would be the encounter I had with a patient of mine who was suffering from insomnia. At first, she was prescribed sleep medicine, but one day she came into my office boasting about a cannabis-infused chocolate bar and its ability to make her sleep like a baby. Her passion and relief put a fire in my belly to want to learn more about cannabis. From that point forward, I realized that life is about being a constant learner. Sure, I had a lot of medical wisdom at the time, but little did I know that my own patient would lead me to expand my field of knowledge to cannabis.

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?

I think the biggest mistake I made was not being very mindful of the worst-case scenario, which in my field of work is having a patient take their own life. I’ve lost two patients in this manner and it taught me to be extra attentive and empathetic to someone’s needs. Although I was not to blame, you can’t help but put the finger on yourself and wonder what you could have done differently to prevent this from happening. I learned that life is precious and people deserve a life worth living — I need to do everything in my power to make them feel this sentiment and consider it as truth.

Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

Since marijuana is now legal in many states, people of all ages are using it for pain relief and to treat a variety of illnesses and ailments. Although this has allowed people to be more accepting of the plant, there are still a lot of people out there who are afraid of cannabis due to misinformation. In my book and in my practice, I help people navigate the benefits and risks of using marijuana while distinguishing fact from fiction. This enables people to make informed decisions for themselves and their loved ones.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

My top 5 “lifestyle tweaks” are common, but vital.

  1. Exercise regularly
  2. Get 8–9 hours of sleep
  3. Improve your diet and nutrition
  4. Drink a lot of water
  5. Ask for help when you need it!

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

Well, the movement is actually already in effect — legalization of medical marijuana. A majority of our states have legalized it, but there are still some that are hesitant to do so. It would be a huge victory to have all 50 states be on board with this because cannabis can be beneficial for a wide range of medical conditions and it gives practitioners in all types of medicine just one more tool to add to their belt to effectively treat patients.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

3 big things come to mind -

  1. Self-care is important. My job is to care for other people, but I also have to remember to care for myself too!
  2. Life can change in an instant. I had 3 kids in med school and it forced me to be resilient. I knew helping others was my calling in life, and I wasn’t going to let this challenge get in the way of that. Yes, it was hard, but it made the accomplishment all the more special. I believe life throws curveballs at you to test how bad you really want something. I’m glad I was able to accept the challenge and work with it, not against it.
  3. You need to be a good listener. People who seek help want to be heard, and as a psychiatrist, you need to let people talk and be someone they can trust to confide in. Being a psychiatrist requires building relationships, and a strong foundation can only be built when you are willing to empathetically listen to your patients.

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

As a psychiatrist who specializes in the assessment and treatment of anxiety and mood disorders, I am a big advocate for mental health. I believe in treating the whole person with a range of therapeutic techniques and approaches. In my own practice, I have seen how medical marijuana can improve conditions such as anxiety and depression. It is because of these success stories that I am passionate about cannabis in its relation to mental health and wish to guide those who may need it.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

My Instagram handle is @drrebeccasiegel and my website is

https://www.rebeccasiegelmd.com/

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

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