Holistic wellness and non-medicated approaches to health and healing have always been an interest of mine. The first person I turn to when I need some guidance is Dr. Kristi Wrightson-Harter of Nest Integrative Medicine. Dr. Kristi offers a mind, body, spirit approach to healing and her facility provides services like standard allergy testing and blood panel readings, as well as multi-vitamin IV drips, custom teas and much more. She has empowered me to believe that we can be in control of our bodies and that good nutrition is the most powerful form of medicine.
At this point you could say she knows me pretty well. So I was excited to get to know her for our 6th Pillow Talk series. We chatted about alternative medicine, the upcoming launch of her herbal products and a bedtime routine we’d all like to get behind.
When you were in school, what was your favorite subject and what did you want to “grow up” to be?
I loved biology and really wanted to be a marine biologist and work with the dolphins at Sea World. They are such amazing and intelligent animals! When I got into college I took my first organic chemistry class and, despite studying really hard, only got a C in that class. I switched my major to business at that point and it is probably one of my only regrets in life. It is ironic because when I was back in school taking pre-med classes I got an A, 98 percent actually, in my organic chemistry class.
What contributed to you becoming the business woman and naturopathic doctor that you are today?
I think the most profound influence that I have had in my career was working with the late Dr. Robert Young. We worked together in his office when I first moved to Santa Barbara and then he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. During that time I worked through him with his patients and he mentored me for 2 years to help give them the best care possible. I learned more from him than I could have imagined about truly caring for patients and the practice of medicine.
I worked with Dr. Young’s practice even after he passed and there was a point when I knew that in order to fully practice the medicine I wanted that I needed my own space. I wanted a place that was nurturing, comfortable and bright, which led me to open my own business. I have owned Nest Integrative Medicine for the past 6 years.
How has alternative medicine changed your life?
Truly the most profound way that naturopathic medicine has changed my life is by allowing me to help patients feel their best.
How have you seen alternative medicine change other people’s lives?
I have the privilege of seeing changes in patient’s lives every day. It is really quite a gift that I get to see the process of transformation that patients have through the journey of getting healthy. From balancing their hormones, finally getting some sleep, having more energy, resolving their digestive upset, stabilizing moods, I see small and huge victories each day that shift these patients lives significantly.
How does your approach to working with patients differ from other practitioners?
In the state of California naturopathic doctors are licensed as primary care doctors. So a lot of what I do is similar to other general practitioners in that I perform physicals, order labs or imaging and write prescriptions. My approach is different because I look at a patient’s health from a very wide perspective, taking into consideration all of the different facets of their life that contribute to health, such as stress, diet, lifestyle, family history, genetics and their past medical history. I use that information to look for missing parts of their medical puzzle by looking at the body’s physiology using blood work or other labs. We can then pinpoint potential causes of health issues and treat those roots to create long-term optimal health.
Which female entrepreneurs do you admire?
There are so many women doing amazing things but I really think Ellen DeGeneres is a great inspiration as an entrepreneur. I feel like her whole purpose is to make people realize that we have to be nice to one another and have fun. She has created an entire brand for herself by just being Ellen. I admire those that take their natural gifts and share them with the world in a way that makes everyone’s life a little better.
What do you think is the single most important ingredient to success?
Integrity. I believe it is the foundation for success in life, professionally and personally.
What’s the most challenging part of your professional life?
Trying to be both business owner and doctor. I absolutely love being both doctor and business owner and strive to do both well. I can get overwhelmed, though, if I am trying to learn all the new knowledge about health AND keep up on the ways I can manage my business the best way possible.
How do you try to manage your work/life balance?
It is something that I have to work on consistently and constantly. In any profession where you are giving of yourself and helping others I feel like it is especially difficult to maintain a good balance. I can come home from work really exhausted from seeing patients and trying to help everyone I encounter, but then I have to have the energy to be a supportive, loving and giving wife as well. Some days I do better than others but my husband is very conscious of this struggle. I have altered my schedule so I am not working on Fridays, which really helps me.
What do you see yourself doing next to express yourself professionally?
I’m actually super excited about the next phase of my professional life. I have a lot of herbal products that I have been making for a long time that I am going to launch in the upcoming year. I make delicious organic teas as well as beautiful organic lotions and salves that have all been very thoughtfully curated and I am hoping that will help a lot of people. One of my biggest desires is to share my information and message with a greater community, so I am also developing some informative and entertaining online courses that can help folks around the country and world. I am also working on some really fun pop-up bar ideas for next year at the Nest!
How do you manage the fear and doubt that inevitably creeps in when you’re paving a less trodden path?
I work a lot on shifting my perspective. If I am fearful or doubtful it is usually coming from a place of disbelief…..I can’t do this because…..I am not worthy of this because…..I am not enough for this, etc. These fears can be daunting but if I shift the thought from skepticism to trust then I can use that to propel me forward. I use a journal to process through all these thoughts and usually changing the original fear or thought into a positive makes me do whatever I am doing even better.
What have you been most afraid of trying in your career, but you did it anyway?
Starting my own business. I decided to open my own practice at a time when I was really busy with patients, learning new skills and overall doing quite well. And then things in that practice shifted and I was (as my sister said to me at the time) kicked out of the nest. It was scary but I just took one step at a time and did it. Funny enough my practice name, Nest Integrative, was born out of that conversation I had with my sister and I love it even more because she was involved.
Was there any opportunity that you had in your life that you didn’t take?
Hmmmm….I can’t think of any.
Any sleep rituals that you use to help quiet the mind after a long day?
I have a pretty early bedtime, usually around 9pm, so that allows me to make sure that I am getting enough sleep. I try to turn off screens about 30 minutes before bedtime and not read anything that is more exciting than a clothing catalog. If I do have an active mind I have Kava tincture that I will take to help quiet my brain train so that I can fall asleep. I also make quite an impressive nest with my pillows and blankets that help me drift into sleep.
What’s the biggest gift you give yourself to recharge?
Exercise. Each day I get up in the morning, put on my tennis shoes and take my dog Charlie for a walk, hike or jog. Getting out in nature, breathing the air and moving my body makes all things that come at me through the day more manageable. Plus Charlie is a big dog who either gets the walk or will not stop wanting to throw the ball all day.
What’s your favorite food to indulge in?
Sushi. Arigato’s is my very favorite and the jalapeno yellowtail nigiri is absolutely divine!
What’s the first thing you do after you wake up?
Put on my contact lenses….I have very very bad vision! Then put on my tennis shoes, see above
What’s the last thing you do before bed?
Take off my glasses and kiss my husband goodnight.
How do you make your bedroom a sacred space?
I make sure that it is really simple, clean and uncluttered. I have all white linens on the bed, which makes me happy each time I see them. And I have so so so many pillows.
Thank you Kristi, we love your approach to health and wellness. To learn more about Nest Integrative Medicine, visit www.nestspasb.com.
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