We’re back! This is from our “lost episodes” — This is your brain…and this is your brain on burnout, any questions? OK, but seriously, burnout effects everyone, even if they/you don’t admit it. Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. It can affect ANYONE, but it is especially common among high-performers who push themselves to the limit. In this episode, we dive into the latest research on burnout and its effects on the brain, as well as offer practical advice for preventing and managing burnout. If you’re heading into 2023 feeling overwhelmed and drained, this episode is for you.
We’re joined by Elisha Goldstein, PhD - one of the world’s preeminent mindfulness teachers, a clinical psychologist, founder of the Mindful Living Collective and, creator of the six-month breakthrough program - A Course in Mindful Living. If you’ve ever used the Calm app, you might be familiar with his voice as he walks you through mindfulness practices to help calm negative emotions and anxious thoughts. He has extensive expertise in mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) and today he’s sharing his wealth of knowledge using mindfulness to naturally reduce anxiety and be more present and aware in our lives.
Most of us have heard how important “self-care” is and how important it can be for healthy living. But what exactly IS self-care? In this episode, not only do we define what self-care is, but we talk through the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of what’s involved in self-care and why this can so often be misunderstood and challenging. While we might be familiar with this term, many may not consider how they can be deliberate around managing themselves by both reflecting on and engaging in activities that help support their brains and bodies. It isn’t enough to simply know that self-care is important, rather discovering practical actions you can take to improve both how you feel and how you engage with the world.
Stress is something that we will inevitably encounter throughout our lives. It isn’t all bad or maladaptive, but how we manage it can make a significant difference in our lives. The degree of stress we feel impacts how we show up in the world including both how we relate and how we do the work before us each day.
In this episode, Mireille and Adam discuss the impact of stress on our systems including the role of different stress hormones on our immune system, cardiovascular system and our metabolism. Like many other conversations on previous episodes, we provide research relative to the value of relationships as having close connections helps us all combat the stress that loneliness can cause as well. When we utilize resources to support us as well as set limits on what we expose ourselves to and focus our attention to, we have the opportunity to better navigate the stresses of our lives.
When you lack clarity or have uncertainty for a direction or goal, it’s going to be difficult to succeed in your actions. Today Mireille and Adam discuss the topic of clear communication and expectation, two of the most important ingredients of success. How do we create better clarity? Like so many things — clarity begins with awareness, and awareness of yourself. You have to know what you want and what you value in life. We must assume 100% responsibility for creating our own clarity in our lives. After all, “if you don’t have clarity, you are operating from assumption.”
Conflict is a part of everyday life. If you are connected to other humans, conflict will eventually occur. But what exactly is conflict? Where does it begin? How can it be resolved? In this episode, Mireille and Adam dive deep into those details to examine the framework of conflict end-to-end, to hopefully equip us with the tactics and skills we need to better navigate and resolve the conflict we encounter in our lives.
Distractions will always exist – managing them is our responsibility. We often talk about the need for new information in order to change the old patterns of our brain. One of the best ways we can do this is through reading good books. In this episode, Mireille and Adam discuss the highlights of Nir Eyal’s book, Indistractible – how to control your attention and choose your life. In his book, Nir highlights this clear connection between people’s distraction and its relationship to psychological discomfort, otherwise known as pain. He says, “all behaviors, whether they tend toward traction or distraction are prompted by triggers, internal or external. When we learn how to recognize these “triggers,” there is opportunity for change. And changing in the direction that you desire, as based on what you value, is key to having the life you want to live.
Have you heard the phrase, “Put yourself in their shoes?” In this episode, the conversation focuses on the “HOW” and why it all begins with empathy. Empathy is the key that enables access to another person’s perspective and emotional state. It is also a fundamental aspect of building and sustaining relationships with others. The fascinating thing is that there are 3 types of empathy: cognitive, social, and empathic concern. Plus there’s a counterpart component called compassion that moves us to take action.
Today’s episode features our very first guest. We’re joined by Danielle Rath, a notable expert and product developer in the caffeine and energy drink industry. Danielle is the founder of GreenEyedGuide Research and Consulting where she shares science-based information about energy drinks and caffeine, and helps people and companies where fatigue and caffeine use are prevalent. In this lengthly episode, we talk through all aspects of the science behind caffeine — its chemical structure and half-life, where and how it’s being used, the good, bad, and the ugly, as well as practical advice for everyday consumption. If you consume caffeine of any sort, this is a must listen episode.
How reflective are you with the thoughts you think? In this episode, Mireille and Adam talk through a few more cognitive distortions. These “distortions” are general tendencies or patterns of thinking that are false or inaccurate, which also have the potential to cause psychological damage. Generally speaking, people develop cognitive distortions as a way of coping with adverse life events. The more prolonged and severe those adverse events are, the more likely it is that one or more cognitive distortions will form. By recognizing these patterns in our thoughts and possibly how, when, or why we’re prone to use them, like many things, we create the opportunity to change them.
You are not what you’ve been dealt. You might have heard in your life that you’ve inherited bad genes or even good genes, and from that you conclude that you’re doomed or blessed. In some cases there’s a margin of truth to that. However, the role of genes, Epigentics, and Neuroplasticity tell a different story. It’s a story of hope and opportunity for change.
How much do you focus on your sense of touch? Have you ever considered how or why this sense is so critical to our lives and how we manage ourselves? In this episode, Mireille and Adam discuss the neurophysiological underpinnings of our sense of touch and how our brains process these sensory experiences. According to David Linden, Ph.D., Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “The sense of touch is intrinsically emotional.”
Not only is touch relevant to our emotional experience, but it is a foundational aspect of the development of our nervous system and it impacts how we manage stress and respond to pain. It isn’t surprising then to consider that touch is also extremely relevant to our relationships as we are apt to feel more connected to those with whom we engage in touch.
Researchers have examined the power of story and discovered the way in which stories provide a framework that has the capacity to transcend language for universal understanding. According to Joe Lazauskas, “Stories illuminate the city of our mind…stories make us remember and they make us care.” In this episode we dive deep into the power of story to explore the ways in which stories play a role in our emotions and in our relationships with others.
High expectations for performance in both life and work are common, but what do you do when you get stuck and you’re not able to achieve the results you desire? In this episode, Mireille and Adam talk through the different aspects of perfectionism and ways in which is can be adaptive and helpful and other ways in which it poses additional challenges. What happens when we avoid the possibility of failure as opposed to simply having high standards for our performance? How can we begin to focus on healthy striving as opposed to reaching for perfection?
In this episode, Mireille and Adam talk through the challenge of problem solving. It’s all to common to utilize the “try harder” approach when things aren’t working out the way you’d like. While that kind of effort is valuable, this approach is often wrought with further frustration, wasted time and less than desirable results. This episode offers you an alternative perspective and ways that you can practice getting unstuck and utilize more of the resources of your unconscious mind.
In this episode, Mireille and Adam discuss the importance of building resiliency and how we can build skills to navigate unexpected and unwanted adversities. Fundamentally, we are designed to adapt out of a place of survival. Given that, we have to learn how to manage our fear while building awareness of the perceptions we have so that we can learn how to be both flexible and calm. Not surprising, we also talk about the way in which our relationships with others help us buffer the challenges better so that we are able to remain calmer and henceforth, see the opportunities within the obstacles.
It’s been said that happy people are thankful, but maybe it’s the other way around. Thankful people are happy. In this episode we discuss the value of and the way that practicing gratitude can improve your overall outlook and mental health. Mireille and Adam talk through some of the underlying neuropsychological aspects of this habit including the key brain structures and neurotransmitters that are affected by practicing this routinely. This is one show that will pay–over and over again–that is, if you’re willing to put the knowledge into practice. Just how “happy” do you want to feel?
The quality of your thinking depends on your mental framework. To become a better thinker you need to have an understanding of this mental framework and how you view the world. But, what exactly is a mental framework? How have we all been programmed throughout our lives? In what ways have you been programed that you like, don’t like, or want to change? Join us as we explore and examine the key components of developing a mental framework.
Given all of the recent changes and adjustments many individuals have made to working remotely, Mireille and Adam discuss some of the relevant aspects of working from home. How do you develop habits that work for you to be the most productive? Which factors make a difference to be successful in navigating challenges that emerge and how can you develop ways of staying socially connected while being physically distant?
Mireille and Adam discuss the process of forming memories, the various types of memory, anxieties, phobias, panic attacks, and how our attention and our memory relates to learning. Where you place your attention influences what you might remember. What you are able to remember influences how you feel, the choices you make, and your future outcomes.
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak being declared a global pandemic and a national emergency here in the United States as well as many other countries around the world, it would be extremely difficult to have a serious conversation here on Brain Science that’s not colored by today’s very serious events. Mireille and Adam discuss the anxiety, fear, and panic that many may be facing. How do we navigate the unseeable unknown? How should we respond to change and the state of the world we are now living in?
Don’t panic. Prepare for change. Be adaptable. Be resilient.
Mireille and Adam discuss the power of choice as it relates to our locus of control, decision making, and the changes we want to make in our lives. Emotions play a role in decision making as do our values and the perceived payout. When we are aware of the choices we make, we have the capacity to change them and henceforth, the direction of our lives, and the way we feel.
Mireille and Adam discuss the mechanism of attention as an allocation of one’s resources. If we can think of attention as that of a lens, we can practice choosing what we give our attention to recognizing that multiple things, both externally and internally, routinely compete for our attention. Distraction can also be useful when we utilize it intentionally to manage the focus of our attention.
Mireille and Adam discuss shame as an emotional and experiential construct. We dive into the neural structures involved in processing this emotion as well as the factors and implications of our experience of shame. Shame is a natural response to the threat of vulnerability and perception of oneself as defective or inherently “not enough.”
Mireille and Adam dig deeper into empathy as a construct. What key brain structures are involved? How can we better understand empathy to be able to better navigate ourselves and our relationships with others both at home and in the workplace?