Five Simple Principles to Train Your Brain to Manage Stress

Jacinta and Selena Head Shots

Dr. Selena Bartlett, an award winning neuroscientist, is a Group Leader in Neuroscience and Brain Fitness at the Translational Research Institute at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation and a Research Capacity Building Professor in the School of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Health, QUT. She is a trained Pharmacist and a medically trained neuroscientist.

From 2004 to July 2012, Selena was the Director of the Preclinical Development Group at the Gallo Research Centre, one of the world’s top alcohol and addiction research centers, at the University of California in San Francisco. In 2014, she presented a TEDx talk about brain fitness and the neuroplasticity revolution. Dr. Bartlett won the Women in Technology (WiT) Biotech Outstanding Achievement Award, the Biotech Research Award. She has authored eighty scientific papers and presents public lectures to organizations, governments, universities and schools.

In this episode of Thriving Women in Business Radio, Dr. Bartlett talks to Caterina Rando about her first book, MiGGi Matters: How to train your brain to manage stress and trim your body. Listen to Dr. Bartlett’s interview here and learn more about her book at www.miggimatters.com.

How to Make Healthy Choices Easier

How to Make Healthy Choices Easier

kim-acedo-reinvent-your-health

Personal story: This past Thursday sucked. I was lethargic and grumpy. I found myself ravenous, wanting to eat everything in sight.

That’s not all. My workout STUNK. I did manage to complete 30 minutes on the elliptical machine, but it was horrendous. You know that feeling when you are walking toward heavy wind? You put your head down and you try to fight that resistance that just takes all your energy out of you. Well, that was exactly how I felt during my workout.

Being a wellness coach and actually teaching this stuff, I wasn’t blind to what was really going on. I knew exactly why my food choices were poor, my workout was awful, and I just wasn’t at my best.

Here’s what happened: I stayed up way too late the night before watching the final Presidential debate. Then, I got up at 5am to start my day and shortly after that I hit my wall. Everything started going downhill, beginning with the unusual urge to eat again shortly after breakfast.

Basically, I didn’t get enough sleep the night before. When we don’t get AT LEAST 7 hours of sleep, what happens is that our cortisol levels rise and our leptin, serotonin, and dopamine levels drop.

This is not good news for our healthy choices throughout the day. High cortisol levels make us feel exactly how I felt. You can have all the willpower in the world, but you are fighting a hard fight when your cortisol levels are out of whack. Your body wants and needs sleep, but if you don’t give it that, it’s going to resort to craving comfort foods. What’s more, your workout will stink, just like mine did.

Ideally, we want the opposite. We want our leptin, serotonin, and dopamine levels to be high and our cortisol levels to be low. You see, the first three biochemicals I mentioned regulate our appetite, make us feel good, and ultimately help us make healthy choices that can feel effortless.

Most people think they just don’t have enough willpower or motivation to make healthy choices, but it’s really not entirely true. Because our sleep, food, mood, and exercise habits are all connected – when one is poor, it brings the others down. This eventually leads to all sorts of health issues.

Instead of having to rely on willpower (something you should save for other things, not food or exercise choices), when you get a good night’s sleep and your leptin, serotonin, and dopamine levels are high, it’s going to be much easier to create a healthy day, keep the weight off, and move forward toward your goals in an effective and productive manner.

You see, when you get a good night’s sleep (quality and quantity), you will make better food choices, be in a better mood, do better work, make fewer mistakes, be happy and cheery, and your workouts will not only be more enjoyable, but they’ll be more effective. This will result in reaching your health goals much faster.

So, how do you make healthy choices easier?

  • You sleep between 7.5-8.5 hours a night
  • Eat healthy, whole foods in an appropriate quantity
  • Lower your stress
  • Exercise on a regular basis

When you have these four things going on, you won’t have to MAKE yourself choose right, it’ll come easy and naturally as a result of a balance in your biochemical makeup.

How is YOUR sleep going?

If you want to shed some unwanted pounds, it’s really important that you sleep well. This will lead to eating healthy, the desire to move your body (because let’s face it, when you get a bad night’s sleep, physical activity isn’t appealing), and you’ll be less stressed and grumpy.

If you’re not getting enough sleep or the quality of your sleep is low on a consistent basis, I’d love the opportunity to help. A great place to start is by checking out my 6-week online ReINVENT Your Health course.

This is no cookie-cutter program. Instead, you will discover strategies that work for YOU specifically to improve not only your sleep, but your food, mood, and exercise habits as well. If one or more of these areas could use a boost, consider this course. Each week we laser-focus on one of these areas.

My last course of the year starts January 20th and I would love to see you in it.

You can all the details about the program and register here: http://www.transformationwellnessforwomen.com/reinvent-your-health/

 

 

Want to reduce stress? 3 Ways Being Strategic Can Help

Want to reduce stress? 3 Ways Being Strategic Can Help

this way, that way, another way illustrationThere are some words that over time get lost in the clutter of all of the messages we receive. One of those words is strategy. Be strategic! Be intentional! Be purposeful! Each of those admonitions is great advice. But what do they mean? We need to explore beyond the sound bites and be certain that we understand what it means to apply the knowledge.

Working as a master strategist over the past decade, the concept of strategy has proven time and time again to be much simpler than you might think. It comes down to this: Begin with the end in mind. When we employ strategy, it goes beyond the plan. It goes all the way to the end, to the outcome. Begin with the end in mind.

Think of it like reverse engineering. First you determine what you’re building. Then you work backwards to develop the right sequence of steps to get you there. When you do that, you are being strategic. You know what you are going to need and when you are going to need it. You know what you need to do and when you need to do it. Beyond that, you know why.

If the question is this: What should I do today?  The answer is this: What do you want to be/have tomorrow? Within the answer to the second question is your answer for the first. That is why our coaching programs focus on living today like you want tomorrow to be. And that is where the true magic of strategy serves us.

Being strategic goes beyond being your guide in how you plan. It goes to how you live. Let’s look at three ways we experience stress in our lives and see how being strategic can reduce and even eliminate that stress for us.

#1 – The Art of the No

We all struggle with this, particularly women. We find it stressful to say no because we aren’t comfortable with when and how to say no. Let me share with you what Michael E. Porter (Harvard Business Review) who is considered by many a modern day Father of Strategy has to say on this subject. When asked to define strategy, his response was this: “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” I found that very insightful. Being strategic is in fact a giant filter. It gets rid of the clutter in the way of getting to the end.

When we begin with the end in mind, we know what will take us there and what will not and we can focus there. We can also use that context when choosing what not to do.  For many years I have employed this simple principle: “Don’t say no, say how.”  It sounds simple but it’s really a way of vetting your options. Can I do this? Yes- if you do A,B or C or perhaps if you do not do A, B or C. It creates a choice instead of a “NO”. One of the most effective sales techniques ever employed is giving customers options for purchase.  Would you like A, B or C? They are instinctively drawn to choosing one of the offers provided vs. just Do you want A? Yes or No.

Apply that in your life. Someone asks you to serve on a committee that is going to mean a commitment of your time. Is that going to serve your “end in mind” strategy? If yes, you have your answer. If not, then the choice is to either take on the new responsibility and sacrifice momentum or stay focused on the strategy you have in place. When responding, it is now within a context for you and for the person that offered you the opportunity. Now you have the opportunity to make them aware of what you are working toward as well. It may very well be that there is a masked opportunity in play that you would not have seen without that specific conversation.

#2 – The Actions of the Day

The second place we experience stress is when we fail to live up to our promises to ourselves. Any time we move out of integrity (say one thing – do another) it introduces stress. Who we are vs. what we do is the ultimate generator or dissipater of stress. It’s about the tough things we have to do every day to move us to that “end in mind” state. If we don’t start with that vision, we will soon find ourselves losing steam when the work that needs to be done isn’t recognized as important, even vital.

We all feel better about ourselves when we have the satisfaction of knowing we’ve done what we said we would do. It’s about self-discipline, one of the hardest disciplines to achieve. Personal leadership expert Brian Tracy defines discipline with these six words: Do what you resolve to do. I love that. So very close to my definition of strategy: Begin with the end in mind. They are in fact the same fundamental principal. One serves the other.

The planning of our days becomes straight forward. The actions of our days become deliberate. As a result, we reduce the stress of continuous choice. The decisions are already made. We are now just living them out. The former editor of Fortune magazine Alvin Toffler offers this advice: “You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.”

#3 – The Disruptions of the Day

Here is perhaps the most important place to consider when reviewing the true value of strategy. Each of us faces disruption in our lives. Sometimes they are significant events such as death, divorce, even disease. Even if not happening directly to us, when they happen to someone close to us it will still impact us. But it goes beyond those larger disruptions to include some that might not seem as significant but still disrupt our path. Your car doesn’t start, the plumbing picks the absolute worst time to stop working, your computer has turned into an alien machine – so many opportunities for stress to burst onto the scene and distract us from our path.

When we operate from the perspective of what we are living toward instead of what we are living through it makes all the difference. Within that framework we are always able to find contingencies and resources will be at the ready.  We can see disruptions in a different light. Where is the lesson? Where is the door? In so many cases, what starts out as a disruption is in fact a new opening on the path.

The next time you find yourself struggling with saying no, lacking purpose in your day-to-day activities or derailed by disruptions, remember that you have a different choice. You can choose to live today like you want tomorrow to be. You can choose to begin right now with the end in mind. You can. I have faith in you. You will.

Live well.

The Importance of Focus

The Importance of Focus

We are all guilty of trying to do more than one thing at a time. In our minds we are tricking ourselves into believing LADY WITH TARGETthat are being more efficient and accomplishing more. That is one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves throughout the day. When you try to multi-task you are not being nearly as efficient as you believe you are. To help you stop trying to multi-task I have put together some reasons why you need to remember the importance of focusing on one task at a time.

Tricking Yourself – While you may believe that you are multi-tasking you are actually just task-switching. When it comes to attention to detail our brains only have a limited amount to invest on each task. When you move from one task to another, you are actually wasting more time than you believe you are saving.

Continue reading “The Importance of Focus”

Is Your Body on Your Success Team?

SFBA_Is Your Body on Your Success Team_PHOTO 2At one level, it’s a silly question. Of course your body is on your success team. After all, you couldn’t get very far without it. The real question is, what relationship do you have with your body? Do you continue to push yourself when you know you are tired? Do you eat on the go because there’s just no time in the day to have a relaxing meal? Do you put the pause button throughout the day and take a moment to breathe? Continue reading “Is Your Body on Your Success Team?”

3 Ways Being Strategic Reduces Stress

this way, that way, another way illustrationThere are some words that over time get lost in the clutter of all of the messages we receive. One of those words is strategy. Be strategic! Be intentional! Be purposeful! Each of those admonitions is great advice. But what do they mean? We need to explore beyond the sound bites and be certain that we understand what it means to apply the knowledge.

Working as a master strategist over the past decade, the concept of strategy has proven time and time again to be much simpler than you might think. It comes down to this: Begin with the end in mind. When we employ strategy, it goes beyond the plan. It goes all the way to the end, to the outcome. Begin with the end in mind. Continue reading “3 Ways Being Strategic Reduces Stress”