episode #352

Can You Thrive in Crisis? Build Your Optimism with Dr. Sue Varma


Dr. Sue Varma, board-certified psychiatrist or psychiatrist and Author of Practical Optimism, joins Dr. Stephanie in this episode and together, they explore practical strategies for bolstering mental fortitude, navigating emotions, and reclaiming control over one’s time and mental space.

Drawing from Dr. Varma’s extensive experience, including her groundbreaking work at the World Trade Center Mental Health Program, they discuss techniques to combat overwhelm, embrace the Joy of Missing Out (JOMO), and cultivate meaningful connections through friendship.

Whether you’re seeking tools to regulate emotions, alleviate stress, or simply enhance your well-being, this episode promises invaluable insights for all. Tune in and embark on a journey toward resilience, empowerment, and practical optimism.

Episode Overview:

0:00 Intro/Teaser
0:38 Practical Optimism: A Blend of Eastern and Western Philosophy
3:40 Validating the Human Experience
8:47 Medication and Calming Techniques for Inflammation
16:55 The Power of Observing Emotional “Tells”
24:28 Creating Distance from Negative Thoughts Through Mindful Observation
32:35 Reframing Cognitive Strategies for Self-Reflection
37:45 Finding Pleasure in Slowing Down and Appreciating the Senses
41:14 Slowing Down and Savoring the Present Moment
45:42 The Complexity of Emotions and Communication
47:50 The Therapeutic Power of Crying and Communication
51:40 Conflict Resolution: Resolving Conflicts Like Adults
55:23 Example of a Couple’s Damaging Behavior in a Three-Legged Race
58:27 Communication Differences Between Men and Women
1:01:34 The Power of Feeling Supported and the Danger of Schadenfreude
1:07:14 The Importance of Relying on Others and Offering Help
1:10:48 The Importance of Choices, Work, and Sacrifices
1:17:32 Practical Optimism: The Art, Science, and Practice of Well-being


Dr. Sue Varma is a board-certified psychiatrist who was the first medical director and attending psychiatrist at the World Trade Center Mental Health Program. She is also the go-to for all of the national morning shows on various topics related to mental health. Her first book examines how some people survive, even thrive, despite profound challenge, and how we can all optimize the things we have control over, while buffering ourselves from stress.

Website: doctorsuevarma.com/
Practical Optimism book: doctorsuevarma.com/book/

Resources mentioned:

Video: It’s Not About the Nail

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I’m Dr. Stephanie

Part geek, part magic, and all the way passionate about being a well-lived woman.

I want to throw my grandkids in the air in my 70’s. I want to be squatting even more weight than I am now, and putting my OWN luggage in the overhead bin. Sound like weird goals? For me these are just some of the little things that represent a life well-lived.

My health is MY job – I’ll be damned if I rely on luck, ‘good genes’ or a cocktail of drugs that over promise and under deliver.

The Betty Body is my first book-baby, and a collection of what I’ve learned after thousands of clinical hours, hundreds of conversations with the world’s top experts, and most importantly…

This book is an outline of what took ME from “rock-bottom health” at 38, to being my own version of a Betty in my perimenopausal mid 40’s. A woman who is physically strong, full of energy, enjoys mental clarity, great sex and a joyful family life. Is it all roses? Of course not. But I have the stamina and tools to deal with the push and pull of life so that it doesn’t turn into chronic stress.

I want this for you too. Let’s go Bettys!