Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning
Understanding Hormesis: Why Stress and Adversity Make Us Physically and Mentally Stronger”

Understanding Hormesis: Why Stress and Adversity Make Us Physically and Mentally Stronger”

December 30, 2021

I know we’ve all heard of the old saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” but have you ever wondered if science could open our eyes to what exactly this means? I’ve wondered this, and it led me to this week’s Brain Fact Friday where we will explore hormesis or the idea that “short, intermittent bursts of stressors can actually trigger a cascade of cellular processes that enhance overall health, slow aging, and make you more resilient to future stress (both physical and mental).”[i]

On this episode you will learn:

✔︎ How our cells respond to short, intermittent periods of stress.

✔︎ A look into 2 pathways that are important for longevity (The Sirtuin and mTOR).

✔︎ 4 Ways to boost our health, using hormesis or stress, making us physically and mentally stronger.

For those new, or returning guests, welcome back! I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of you who tune in, have been fascinated with learning, understanding, and applying the most current brain research to improve productivity in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments. The purpose of this podcast is to take the mystery out of this new discipline that backs our learning with simple neuroscience to make it applicable for us all to use right away, for immediate results.

I had no idea while initially researching for this episode that neuroscientist and tenured professor in the Department of Neurobiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Dr. Andrew Huberman, would be hosting Dr. David Sinclair[ii] (a Professor in the Department of Genetics from Harvard Medical School) on the Huberman Lab Podcast this week, and covering this very topic on “The Biology of Slowing and Reversing Aging”[iii] where the idea of hormesis was discussed throughout. I do recommend this episode for those who want to take a deeper dive into the science of anti-aging, longevity and the fascinating work that Dr. David Sinclair is doing in this field, in addition to Dr. Peter Attia’s Podcast, The Drive, on “Dr. Sinclair, Ph.D. Slowing Aging, sirtuins, NAD, and the epigenetics of aging.”[iv]

If you are listening to this, and thinking “What? She’s lost me! What is she even talking about? Slowing down the ageing process? What is NAD and what are sirtuins?”  Just remember to keep an open mind--this podcast focuses on looking for the research from the most reputable place (Pubmed.gov), learn what the experts in the field have to say about what they are discovering, and then we break down the research in smaller pieces,  so that we can all make it applicable in our daily life, whether we’ve taken a neuroscience course, or not. What I’ve learned from studying closely with neuroscience researcher Mark Robert Waldman the past few years, is that we must be open to what the research says and keep our egos (and judgements) out of whatever it is we want to prove. I’m working hard on an abstract that supports the importance of educational neuroscience as a new discipline in our schools, versus the old model of learning, and although there is research that supports my hypothesis, it’s still a new field, and I must remember what Dr. Sinclair tells his students, that “most things we thought were true are not…or will change over time.”[v] I’m now on my third revision of this abstract, because it’s not easy to step away from what we want to believe, and leave it up in the air, because we might be wrong about everything, when it comes to looking at life through the lens of a scientist.

Just keep an open mind, especially when you hear that Dr. Sinclair, now at the forefront of anti-aging research, after all the criticism he’s received over the years, is in the late stages of clinical trials of working on something that mimics exercise in a pill to speed up metabolism. The next few years are going to really blow our minds with what is possible, and I hope that we can all embrace new ideas, with open minds and make the needed change with what we learn from the research, whether it’s in the classroom like I’d like to see with new models of learning backed by neuroscience, or in the modern workplace.

Moving into Season 7 of this podcast in the New Year, with a focus on Brain-Health and Well-Being, I won’t always be looking for speakers and authors who are discovering what we already know. I’m looking for people like Dr. Sinclair, who will stretch us to think in ways we’ve never thought before, to do what we once thought was impossible, showing us that we have powerful reservoirs of mental and physical strength, that we can tap into when needed.  Now that fascinates me and is what will motivate me to keep learning more to share with you here.

With that said, I wanted this week’s Brain Fact Friday to tie into last week’s episode to improve our mental and physical health, since according to a recent survey from the American Psychiatric Association, “almost 70 million adults resolve to find ways to improve their mental and physical health this coming year”[vi] and while looking for ideas, I saw a graphic I created last year that caught my attention. The graphic was about using “hormesis” as a stressor to make us stronger. I know how important hormesis is for our mental strength, by choosing to stretch ourselves beyond what we think we are capable of and had heard of strategies that use hormesis like exposing our body to extreme cold (with ice baths), or extreme heat (with saunas), with exercise, (and HIIT) and even intermittent fasting, but I didn’t know what exactly this stress was doing for me on a cellular level.

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What does hormesis or this intermittent stress and adversity do to our cells that makes us physically and mentally stronger?

This brings us to this week’s Brain Fact Friday.

DID YOU KNOW THAT: “We have 2 pathways that are important to longevity—the Sirtuin (the pathway we want to activate for health and longevity) and mTOR System (where too much activity causes disease in the body)[vii]  showing us the importance of understanding the key regulators of ageing and age-related diseases?[viii]

This episode will focus on the Sirtuin Pathway, giving us hope that even when our cells become damaged, the Sirtuins help unwrap and put back together the unraveled, damaged DNA. To me, it’s just like the neuroplastic brain that can also repair itself depending how we live our life, and is refreshing to know that we have tremendous control over our future physical, mental health and well-being, and our resilience to stress.

There are ways that we can naturally boost the Sirtuin genes, opening them up, making them more active, giving us more energy, turning on all our bodies’ natural defenses, and in essence, slowing down the aging process, bringing our attention inside our body, down to the cellular level, helping us to understand why certain hormetic behaviors are good for us, and others that do not involve this stressor, are not.

Dr. David Sinclair, a leading expert in the field of anti-aging reminds us that “our bodies were designed to respond to adversity…and we’ve removed it from our lives because it feels good (or it’s easier)—but we need adversity to be resilient and fight disease.”[ix]

So, this year, as we are looking for NEW ways to boost our mental and physical health, I challenge you to start by thinking of the science behind hormesis, adversity and challenge and stretch our minds to try something new, something that challenges us, makes us uncomfortable (for short periods of time) yet has the potential to yield to outstanding health, and wellness benefits to take us to new heights in the New Year.

Please do consult with your doctor before trying anything new and remember that “you can change your epigenome (our loops of DNA) by how we live our life more than anything our genes give us. 80% is epigenetic (our behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way our genes work).” (Dr. Sinclair) I want us to look deeper into why these strategies, that involve some sort of intermittent stress (hormesis) can make us physically and mentally stronger.

Improving the Sirtuin/Longevity Pathway to Reduce Aging by:

Strategy 1: Choosing Workouts That Challenge You

If you have ever hired a personal trainer, it’s not usually because you don’t know what to do, it’s usually the how part that we are missing, the need for someone to push us past where we usually would stop on our own so that we push ourselves enough that to damage our muscle fibers, preparing them to rebuild themselves stronger than they were before.  I did mention on episode #114 that “when we put our body under stress, like we do with exercise, that BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor--which is like fertilizer for the brain) upregulates, triggering the growth of cells to meet the increased mental demands of the movement.”[x]   

When thinking about how to receive the benefits of exercise for improved cognition and well-being, be sure to pick workouts that challenge you, or push you beyond where you would usually stop on your own. “You can choose HIIT (high intensity interval training) where you go all out for 30 seconds to a minute, followed by 15 seconds of rest to experience hormesis. During these intense bursts, your muscles are briefly starved for oxygen, (hypoxia) which stimulates the production of mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell.)”[xi]  It’s this brief period of stress that “improves the capacity of the cells to withstand greater stress.”[xii]

Strategy 2: Using Saunas, Cryotherapy or Ice Baths

For someone who finds anything below 80 degrees freezing, I’ve not yet tried extreme cold, with ice baths or cryotherapy[xiii] for pain relief, muscle healing, and improving the sirtuin pathway to reduce aging, but many people I know swear by this practice. Until I’m brave enough to try this, I’ll stick to ice-packs, but wonder if you have tried this strategy to speed up healing?  I’ll say that sitting in a sauna is a lot like Arizona summers, and not difficult when you do this often enough to get used to those higher temperatures. The only challenge with this one, is that most of us don’t have a sauna in our home. I remember a friend of mine from Toronto, from Finland, swore by a sauna in his home, and I thought of him when I first heard of using heat stress to “trigger a thermoregulatory response”[xiv] if used regularly. Since I want to make use of the research I discover, I did investigate how expensive it would be to put a small sauna in your home, and Costco[xv] does carry them for a reasonable price. Might be something for next year’s Christmas wish list, or worth saving up for.

Strategy 3: The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Pioneer in anti-aging, Dr. Sinclair noticed that “our clock is ticking faster by always being fed…and it’s not important WHAT we eat, but WHEN we eat during the day.”[xvi]

I’ve been practicing this strategy since discovering Jason Whittrock from EPISODE #94[xvii] in 2016 but didn’t understand the science behind fasting back then. Remember that Dr. Sinclair reminded us that “our bodies are designed to respond to adversity” and “when we are hungry, we turn on these adversity, hormetic genes that are called longevity genes—and they make the body fight against aging and diseases,”[xviii] even increasing your mental focus. The problem in America is that most of us don’t allow ourselves to get to the point of hunger where all the benefits are. There are fast food restaurants on every corner to prevent us from starving to death, but I think, this strategy is freeing, giving you so much more extra time and energy that you will never want to give up again once you become free from “needing” to eat. If you want to start this practice, and don’t know where to begin, just skip one meal a day with either breakfast or dinner. No one ever said we “need to eat 3 meals a day” so you’ll notice some paradigms shifting as you try this.

I noticed a marked difference with my health after incorporating this strategy, but it took some time to get used to it. The key is to get past the first 2-3 weeks or so when you think “I need to eat something” and learn to get past the hunger feeling. It does go away. Everyone is different, and so I’ll let you know what works best for me, but that might not work for you. You have to play around these strategies and discover for yourself what will work best for your situation.

I started with fasting Sunday through Wednesday with a 16-hour non-eating window from 5:30pm-9:30am and 8-hour eating window from 9:30am-5:30pm back in 2016. I only drank water, tea or coffee in the non-eating window, and ate fairly clean in the 8 hour eating window, and chose only 4 days a week to do this, so that my body wouldn’t get used to it and adapt.  With time, I began to trust that my body had stores of energy that it would use up, until it was fed or fueled again. It just became my way of life, and who knew it was a longevity strategy! I had no idea.  

I usually exercise early morning with an empty stomach and have never once felt lightheaded or shaky with strenuous exercise on an empty stomach. Just monitor how you feel and adjust this strategy to work for you and your schedule, knowing that over time, your body gets used to whatever you are doing, so you’ll need to continue to switch it up.

Strategy 4: Taking Dietary Supplements (Resveratrol, NMN and Berberine) with Food

Every year I look for what I can add to my health regime to strengthen it and I look for what others are doing in the health and wellness industry. If you’ve been following this podcast for awhile, you will know that I’ve been a longtime fan of Dave Asprey and his bulletproof coffee, so after listening to Dr. Huberman’s podcast[xix], I decided I would try all 3 supplements they discussed (Resveratrol, NMN and Berberine) since both Dr. Huberman and Dr. Sinclair talked about the benefits of each one on health and longevity.

 This strategy I’ve not tried yet, but I put the link in the resource section for these 3 supplements on AMAZON and suggest that you do some research yourself before buying anything.

Aha Moment and Paradigm Shift With This Strategy: Dr. Sinclair mentioned that in the fine print of his study with mice that he gave Resveratrol to, that when they gave this supplement to the mice every day, that the only thing that happened was that the mice were protected against a fatty Western diet. They had no noticeable lifespan extension. But for the mice they gave Resveratrol every OTHER day, they lived over 3 years (which is a long time for lab mice), showing him that there are benefits to NOT taking the same thing every day.  This blew my mind, as I’m a creature of habit, and take the same thing every day. With this research in mind, I’m going to create a new plan of what supplements to take and when. Just like exercise, supplement use needs to be alternated so my body doesn’t get used to what I’m taking.

Just a bit more about the 3 supplements Dr. Sinclair has studied and noted to be anti-aging that I want to try this year:

Resveratrol:  Dr. Sinclair suggests taking 1,000 mg a day that this “must come from a supplement and not from drinking wine, or you would have to drink 200 glasses/day to get the right amount.”  I’m sure we have all heard of the health benefits of resveratrol, that it (may lower blood pressure, has a positive effect on blood fats, lengthens the lifespan of certain animals, protects the brain, may suppress cancer cells)[xx] so I’m going to try it to see what I notice.

NMN: 1000 mg/day Nicotinamide Mononucleotide to protect against heart disease, lower risk of obesity, enhance and maintains DNA repair, and slow down the rate of aging[xxi]  by enhancing NAD levels in the body, an important coenzyme found in all living cells that plays a role in promoting health and prolonging lifespan “but these levels decline as we get older, or obese.”[xxii]  Dr. Huberman and Dr. Sinclair suggested taking 1,000 mg of NMN to fuel the NAD molecule that also fuels Resveratrol to work in the body. It seems this one works best with Resveratrol since it increases those important NAD levels in the body that we need to live, and since numerous studies have demonstrated that “boosting NAD+ levels increases insulin sensitivity, reverses mitochondrial dysfunction, and extends lifespan”[xxiii] I’m definitely going to add this supplement to my health care regime in the New Year.

Berberine: Dr. Sinclair called this the “poor man’s Metformin” Metformin is a drug given to people with diabetes. I used to take metformin for another purpose and had no idea this drug had additional benefits of protecting against heart disease, cancer, frailty and dementia. If you are taking it, then just know there are these additional benefits, and if you don’t have access to it, there’s always Berberine, a powerful supplement with many benefits at the molecular level like “it’s been shown to lower blood sugar, cause weight loss and improve heart health.”[xxiv]

Longevity expert, Dr. Sinclair takes these 3 supplements daily, with a bit of olive oil and vinegar, with a basil leaf, and says it tastes like he’s drinking a bit of salad dressing, which sounds wonderful, but I’ll let you know when I try it out!

To review this week’s Brain Fact Friday:

DID YOU KNOW THAT: “We have 2 pathways that are important to longevity—the Sirtuin (the pathway we want to activate for health and longevity) and mTOR System (where too much activity causes disease in the body) that are key regulators of ageing and age-related diseases[xxv] and we can do things that positively impact the Sirtuin genes, by choosing challenge boosting hormetic activities, opening these Sirtuin genes up, making them more active, giving us more energy, turning on all our bodies’ natural defenses, and impacting the rate of aging.

Whatever strategy we choose (workouts that challenge us, heat/cold exposure, intermittent fasting, or supplements that target anti-aging, my hope is that we now have a different picture of why we are using hormesis to build a better, stronger, more resilient version of ourselves that embraces adversity head on, and full force. Just like when we have peered inside our neuroplatic brain and learned something new on other episodes, we have now looked deep into the longevity of our cells, and understand why hormesis doesn’t kill them, but only makes them stronger!

Have a safe, happy and healthy New Year and I’ll see you next year for the start of Season 7!

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RESOURCES:

NMN (Nicotinamide mononucleotide as an anti-aging health product) August 11, 2011 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2090123221001491

NMN Supplement on AMAZON https://www.amazon.com/Nicotinamide-Mononucleotide-Supplement-Metabolism-Capsules/dp/B079S3XF4H

The Science Behind NMN: A Stable, Reliable NAD+ Activator and Ant-Aging Molecule by Christopher Shade Feb. 2020 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7238909/#sec1-2title

The mTOR Pathway August 31, 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSx9ryXzCFE

REFERENCES:

[i] Hormesis: Meet the Stress That Makes You Physically and Mentally Stronger Feb. 28, 2021 by Stephanie Eckelkamp https://amp.mindbodygreen.com/articles/hormesis

[ii] https://sinclair.hms.harvard.edu/people/david-sinclair

[iii] Huberman Lab Podcast with Dr. David Sinclair EPISODE #52 https://hubermanlab.com/dr-david-sinclair-the-biology-of-slowing-and-reversing-aging/

[iv] Peter Attia, MD “The Drive” EPISODE #27 with Dr. Sinclair, Ph.D. on “Slowing Aging, sirtuins, NAD, and the epigenetics of aging” Published on YouTube Jan. 6th, 2020 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edrIEC0kJv8

[v] The Backlash David Sinclair Faced by the Scientific Community Published on YouTube January 29, 2019 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDdAI-X3y1o

[vi] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #188 on “Putting Mental and Physical Health First” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/brain-fact-friday-on-putting-our-mental-and-physical-health-first/

[vii] The mTOR Pathway August 31, 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSx9ryXzCFE

[viii] Antioxidant Modulation of mTOR and Sirtuin Pathways in Age-Related Neurodegenerative Diseases by Asmaa Abdullah, Nuraqila Mohd Murshid and Suzana Makpol Published August 31, 2020 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12035-020-02083-1#:~:text=mTOR%20and%20sirtuin%20are%20key,3).

[ix] Joe Rogan Podcast with Dr. David Sinclair on “How Fasting Can Fight Aging” Published on YouTube June 18, 2021 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUwd-D94pzE

[x] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #114 on “Building a Faster, Stronger, Resilient Brain by Understanding BDNF” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/brain-fact-friday-on-building-a-faster-stronger-resilient-brain-by-understanding-brain-derived-neurotrophic-factor-bdnf/

[xi] Hormesis: Meet the Stress That Makes You Physically and Mentally Stronger Feb. 28, 2021 by Stephanie Eckelkamp https://amp.mindbodygreen.com/articles/hormesis

[xii] Modulating Exercise-Induced Stress: Does Less Equal More? August 1, 2015 by Jonathan M Peake, James F. Markworth https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/japplphysiol.01055.2014?rss=1

[xiii] What are the benefits of cryotherapy https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319740

[xiv] Saunas for Personal Health and Longevity Strategy by Steve Hill July 22, 2021 https://www.lifespan.io/news/saunas-health-and-longevity/

[xv] 1-2 Person Infrared Sauna from Costco https://www.costco.com/dynamic-gracia-1-2-person-low-emf-infrared-sauna.product.100675807.html

[xvi] Huberman Lab Podcast with Dr. David Sinclair EPISODE #52 https://hubermanlab.com/dr-david-sinclair-the-biology-of-slowing-and-reversing-aging/

[xvii]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #94 with Jason Wittrock on “Nutrition, Intermittent Fasting, and the Ketogenic Diet”  https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/personal-trainer-and-fitness-model-jason-wittrock-on-health-nutrition-intermittent-fasting-and-the-ketogenic-diet/

[xviii] Joe Rogan Podcast with Dr. David Sinclair on “How Fasting Can Fight Aging” Published on YouTube June 18, 2021 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUwd-D94pzE

[xix] Huberman Lab Podcast with Dr. David Sinclair EPISODE #52 https://hubermanlab.com/dr-david-sinclair-the-biology-of-slowing-and-reversing-aging/

[xx] 7 Health Benefits of Resveratrol by Kerri-Ann Jennings March 3, 2017 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/resveratrol#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2

[xxi] NMN (Nicotinamide mononucleotide as an anti-aging health product) August 11, 2011 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2090123221001491

[xxii] Huberman Lab Podcast with Dr. David Sinclair EPISODE #52 https://hubermanlab.com/dr-david-sinclair-the-biology-of-slowing-and-reversing-aging/ 59:25

[xxiii] The Science Behind NMN: A Stable, Reliable NAD+ Activator and Ant-Aging Molecule by Christopher Shade Feb. 2020 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7238909/#sec1-2title

[xxiv] Berberine: A Powerful Supplement with Many Benefits by Kris Gunners January, 2017 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/berberine-powerful-supplement

[xxv] Antioxidant Modulation of mTOR and Sirtuin Pathways in Age-Related Neurodegenerative Diseases by Asmaa Abdullah, Nuraqila Mohd Murshid and Suzana Makpol Published August 31, 2020 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12035-020-02083-1#:~:text=mTOR%20and%20sirtuin%20are%20key,3).

Brain Fact Friday on ”Putting Our Mental and Physical Health First”

Brain Fact Friday on ”Putting Our Mental and Physical Health First”

December 23, 2021

As we are in the middle of our holiday season, wherever you might be listening around the world, rushing about, tying up loose ends with work, with a focus somewhere in our heads towards whether we are ready, or not, for the holiday, where we can spend that quality time with those we love,  I want to release a quick episode to thank you, the listener, for your support with this podcast.

This year, we were listed in the Top 15 Best SEL Podcasts for 2021,[i] and Top 20 Best Neuroscience Podcasts for 2021[ii] and I owe this honor to you. Without listeners, and high quality guests, there is no podcast, so thank you for tuning in, sharing the episodes that you enjoy, and sending me messages and feedback with new ideas to continue to feature the leading experts in neuroscience, education and the brain.

For those new, or returning guests, welcome back! I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of you who tune in, have been fascinated with learning, understanding and applying the most current brain research to improve results in our lives (whether we are a teacher in the classroom, or using these ideas in the corporate space).

This podcast uses Seasons to separate our content, and as we move into Season 7 at the start of the New Year, our theme will remain “Brain Health and Well-Being” as my friend Dan Vigliatore[iii] Health and PE Teacher from Toronto, Canada reminded me this year, that there’s more to this podcast than providing meaningful content around neuroscience. Wellness education must be at the heart of everything we do, since our brain is involved in everything that we do, and everything that we are, and I do want to make that apparent for those listening, like Dan noticed. Especially with the fact that I began my teaching career as a PE teacher in the late 1990s.

As we move into 2022, and plan for a new year of content, around the theme of Brain Health and Well-Being to optimize our cognitive, social and emotional competencies, I’m  truly honored to have this opportunity to host this podcast, because the strategies that we are uncovering in each episode are not only for you, but they are transforming my results, as well! I do look forward to uncovering new ideas, strategies and research in this field in the New Year that we can all use to take our results to new heights.

Especially since it’s such an interesting time in our world. Last night, we were speaking with our pediatric cardiologist who told us that at the beginning of the Pandemic, almost 2 years ago, it was very quiet in his offices, and now, with the new spike in COVID cases, he is busy with new patients coming in, with symptoms they weren’t experiencing in the early stages of the virus[iv], showing us how important our health remains for us.

With everything going on in the world today, I’m sure that YOU will have health in the back of your head this whole time, knowing full well that 2022 is only a few days away, and before we know it, we will all be back in the swing of a New Year, with our old schedules, homework routines reestablished, and hopefully, healthy habits back on track, so for just a minute, I want take this moment to stop, pause and think about what’s important at this time of year.  

Instead of releasing an episode about setting goals, like we did to launch the New Year Last year, with EPISODE #103[v] on “The Neuroscience of Leadership: 3 Ways to Reset, Recharge and Refuel Your Brain for Your Best Year Ever” that I still think is a good episode to revisit, for this week’s BRAIN FACT FRIDAY and EPISODE #188, I want to cover “Putting Our Physical and Mental Health First: To Ensure a New Generation of Thriving Adults.” Our next generation needs us to model the way.

The signs pointing in this direction have been clear the whole time of the Pandemic, but have you noticed there’s a sense of urgency around mental and physical well-being at this time? I saw it with one of my first XMAS cards that came in the mail. I’ve been getting a Christmas card every year from my mentor Bob Proctor and his wife Linda. It always makes me smile to keep in touch with people who have had a profound influence on my life, and this year, when I opened the card, there was a handwritten note highlighting the importance of a “healthy” and joyous 2022. This was early December, before the Omicron Variant began impacting people around the world, but I noticed this, and it stuck in my head “pay attention to health this year.”

Then I remembered that my next interview is scheduled for the middle of January, with Nick Jonsson,[vi] author of the #1 International Best Selling book on Executive Loneliness whose website headliner says “mental health issues are rising dramatically” especially in the workplace and I’d say the writing on the wall is clear where our focus needs to be in 2022, especially if we want to be stable, strong and predictable for the children in our lives, who watch and respond to everything that we do.

So, for this week’s Brain Fact Friday,

DID YOU KNOW: “That one-quarter of Americans intend to improve their mental health in 2022”[vii] and that according to a poll conducted by the American Psychiatric Association, “almost 70 million adults resolve to find ways to improve their mental health this coming year.”[viii]

American Psychiatric Association president Vivian Pender, MD thinks this statistic is “important and encouraging” but points out of the “level of variation among demographic groups” and that “psychiatrists need to understand these trends.”

She references a poll conducted by APA’s Healthy Minds from Dec. 6-8th with a nationwide sample of 2,119 healthy adults and 37% of them revealed “anxieties about the state of their mental health approaches.”

The poll listed the following resolutions to make an impact on mental health as meditation (53%) therapy (37%), purposeful social media hiatus (35%), journaling (32%), accessing a mental health app (26%) and seeing a psychiatrist (1/5th of the participants).

Since there is such an important and timely movement toward mental health and well-being at this time, I want to provide the TOP STRATEGIES that we’ve covered over the past 2 years on this podcast, that would fall into the categories of the top modalities for improving mental and physical health.

STRATEGY 1: Meditation

There’s so much to this strategy, that it can be overwhelming for a beginner to know how to start. I learned something valuable from each of these episodes and I hope that it helps you to begin, or fine tune your meditation practice.

EPISODE 25: Mick Neustadt covers “How Meditation and Mindfulness Changes Your Life”[ix] and this episode is great for people who are new to meditation and mindfulness. He explains what mindfulness is, why it’s so important for young people, and what the research is saying about the importance of implementing a mindfulness program into your daily life.

EPISODE #98: Dr. Dawson Church covers “The Science Behind Using Meditation: Rewiring Your Brain for Happiness”[x] where he explains how he was able to turn his attention away from the horrible tragedy of losing his home in the 2017 Northern California wildfires, to create thoughts, habits and behaviors to support a happy life. I still use Dawson Church’s Bliss Brain Meditations every morning when I first wake up, because there’s something very peaceful about them.

EPISODE #28: Dr. Dan Siegel, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine covers “Mindsight: The Basis for Social and Emotional Intelligence”[xi] taking us into the results he is seeing with understanding the “mind” in others (whether in schools or the workplace).

EPISODE #60: I cover a deep dive into Dr. Dan Siegel’s Wheel of Awareness Meditation[xii] for anyone new, learning about what to expect from this meditation.  Dr. Siegel’s guided meditation has the potential for fascinating insights and results, and I will always point to this one, for anyone looking to strengthen their mind.

EPISODE #154: Author and movie producer Tom Cronin on “The Portal Book and Film: How Meditation Can Save the World”[xiii] if you want to see how Tom transformed his life with meditation.

Strategy 2: Accessing a Mental Health App or Tool

In order to dig deep and make improvements with our brain and cognition, there are tools out there that can help. Before knowing about these tools, I thought the only way to strengthen my brain was through nutrition and exercise.

EPISODE #108: CEO of Fisher Wallace Laboratories Kelly Roman who covers “Wearable Medical Devices for Anxiety, Depression, and Sleep/Stress Management.”[xiv] Fisher Wallace has over 70,000 patients and 10,000 subscribers using their devices and has continued to run three sizable clinical trials during the pandemic, investigating how neurostimulation is a strong contender as a treatment for anxiety and depression compared to drug use. 

EPISODE #120: My Personal Review of the Fisher Wallace Medical Device[xv] came from following month following my interview with Kelly Roman after I had a chance to test the device myself. This is to date is our #1 most downloaded episode of all time with over 5K downloads and the episode I receive the most emails, and DMs on social media about. People want to know that there is a real person behind this review, who really did use the device. I would add a photo of me wearing it to prove I do use it but think the model in the picture looks much better than I do. All joking aside, this is a serious topic, and the emails I have received tell me that people are desperate for solutions when it comes to mental health. While I tested this device to help improve my sleep, I did notice feeling less anxious and worried about things, and it had a calming effect on me. Like I tell anyone who emails me, I highly suggest this product, and if you use it consistently, the way it’s designed to be used (20 minutes twice a day) you should notice an improvement in whatever it is that you are looking to improve (among other things) like I did.  The only way to know this, would be to try it. They do offer a hassle-free 30-day trial period so you can return the device with no questions asked if you don’t want to keep it.

We had a BONUS EPISODE in February of this year, with World Renowned Neuroscientist Dr. Carolyn Leaf on “Cleaning Up Your Mess: 5 Simple Steps”[xvi]  She has an app that goes along with her book, called Neurocycle and I would say it’s the most effective way to clean up your mind (other than going to therapy, that I have not done) that I have ever seen. She helps you to pinpoint a problem that you have, and eliminate it in a process she calls Neurocycling.

EPISODE #106: I Review Dr. Leaf’s “Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess” book and Neurocycle App.[xvii]

EPISODE #134: with Kristen Holmes from Whoop.com we cover “Unlocking a Better You: Measuring Sleep, Recovery, and Strain with a WHOOP Device.”[xviii]

EPISODE #135: I offer my biggest AHA moments from my interview with Kristen Holmes on “Recovery Strategies to Build Resiliency Against Physical, Mental and Emotional Stressors.”[xix] I haven’t been wearing this device for a full year just yet, but there are immense benefit if you are able to measure your sleep, HRV, recovery and even your skin temperature and respiratory rates, on a daily basis.

EPISODE #179: Sun Sachs, the CEO of Rewire Fitness covers their “First-To-Market Neuro Performance Mobile App for Athletes”[xx] This interview I really needed this app before and after, as I had just tested positive to COVID the day before and was right in the middle of the wonderful symptoms. I think that Sun Sachs’ story was so engaging, and his voice was so calming, that I quickly forgot I was under the weather that day, and diligently use this app to help prime my mind before and after workouts.

Strategy 3: Exercise

I can’t leave exercise off the table, but have put this strategy last, because I usually put it first. The research points to the fact that exercise can help us to achieve optimal physical and mental health and learning about this research really can help us to all put exercise first to move the needle with health and wellness in 2022.

EPISODE #116: with Best Selling Author John J Ratey, MD on “The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”[xxi]  who explains why the brain is primed for learning after exercise.

EPISODE #118: with a Deep Dive into John J Ratey’s Books[xxii]

EPISODE #123: with Northeastern University Professor Chuck Hillman, Ph.D. on “The Impact of Exercise on the Brain and Learning”[xxiii] On this episode we dive into the brain scans Dr. Hillman did showing how exercise had a clear impact on student’s during test taking and can help us to all see of the importance of physical activity on a student’s academic performance.

To Review This Week’s Brain Fact Friday:

DID YOU KNOW: “That one-quarter of Americans intend to improve their mental health in 2022”[xxiv] and that according to a poll conducted by the American Psychiatric Association, “almost 70 million adults resolve to find ways to improve their mental health this coming year.”

With the TOP 3 strategies I’ve shared with you (Meditation, Using a Mental Health App or Tool and Exercise) I wonder what you found to be the most insightful and interesting. Your brain will ONLY pay attention to what it finds interesting, which would be the first step towards making lasting change with whatever health and wellness strategy you choose. If you are ready for to make 2022 your best year ever (mentally and physically) pick one strategy that you find the most interesting, and start with that.

Have a happy and healthy holiday, and I’ll see you next week.

FOLLOW ANDREA SAMADI: 

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/AndreaSamadi  

Website https://www.achieveit360.com/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samadi/ 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Achieveit360com  

Neuroscience Meets SEL Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/2975814899101697  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/andreasamadi  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andreasamadi/ 

RESOURCES:

Prioritize Mental Health in 2022 by Rochelle Ryan, Dec. 22, 2021  https://www.peoriatimes.com/opinion/article_d8b17f14-605c-11ec-b901-af80d364da97.html

3 Tips for Better Mental Health in 2022 https://www.colorado.edu/health/2021/12/20/3-tips-better-mental-health-2022

Employee Mental and Physical Health the Spotlight for 2022 https://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/96614-employee-mental-and-physical-health-support-in-the-spotlight-for-2022

4 Mental Health Tips for Creating an Even Better 2022 https://www.harvardpilgrim.org/hapiguide/4-mental-health-tips-for-creating-an-even-better-2022/

 REFERENCES:

[i] Top 10 Social and Emotional Learning Podcasts for 2021 https://blog.feedspot.com/social_emotional_learning_podcasts/

[ii] 20 Best Neuroscience Podcasts for 2021 https://welpmagazine.com/20-best-neuroscience-podcasts-of-2021/

[iii] Dan Vigliatore https://twitter.com/PhysEdDynasty

[iv] Heart Problems After COVID-19 by Wendy Susan Post https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/heart-problems-after-covid19

[v] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #103 “The Neuroscience of Leadership: 3 Ways to Reset, Recharge and Refuel Your Brain for Your Best Year Ever” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/the-neuroscience-of-leadership-3-ways-to-reset-recharge-and-refuel-your-brain-for-your-best-year-ever/

[vi] https://nickjonsson.com/page/mystory

[vii] One-quarter of Americans Intend to Improve Mental Health in 2022 December 20, 2021 https://www.healio.com/news/psychiatry/20211220/onequarter-of-americans-intend-to-improve-mental-health-in-2022

[viii] IBID

[ix] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE  #25 with Mick Neustadt on “How Meditation and Mindfulness Changes Your Life” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/mindfulness-and-meditation-expert-mick-neustadt-on-how-meditation-and-mindfulness-changes-your-life-results-and-potential/

[x] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #98 Dr. Dawson Church on “The Science Behind Using Meditation: Rewiring Your Brain for Happiness” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/dr-dawson-church-on-the-science-behind-using-meditation-rewiring-your-brain-for-happiness-resilience-and-joy/

[xi]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #28 with Dr. Dan Siegel on “Mindsight: The Basis for Social and Emotional Intelligence”  https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/clinical-professor-of-psychiatry-at-the-ucla-school-of-medicine-dr-daniel-siegel-on-mindsight-the-basis-for-social-and-emotional-intelligence/

[xii]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #60 on “The Science and Benefits of Dr. Dan Siegel’s Wheel of Awareness Meditation”  https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/the-science-behind-a-meditation-practice-with-a-deep-dive-into-dr-dan-siegel-s-wheel-of-awareness/

[xiii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #154 with Author and Film Producer Tom Cronin on “The Portal Book and Movie: How Meditation Can Save the World” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/author-and-film-producer-tom-cronin-on-the-portal-book-and-movie-how-meditation-can-save-the-world/

[xiv] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #108 with CEO of Fisher Wallace Laboratories Kelly Roman who covers “Wearable Medical Devices for Anxiety, Depression, and Sleep/Stress Management” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/ceo-of-fisher-wallace-laboratories-on-wearable-medical-devices-for-anxiety-depression-and-sleepstress-management/

[xv] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #120 with Andrea Samadi’s Personal Review of the Fisher Wallace Wearable Medical Device https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/personal-review-of-the-fisher-wallace-wearable-medical-device-for-anxiety-depression-and-sleepstress-management/

[xvi][xvi] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast BONUS EPISODE with  World Renowned Neuroscientist Dr. Carolyn Leaf on “Cleaning Up Your Mess: 5 Simple Steps” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/worldrenownedneuroscientistdr-caroline-leaf-oncleaningup-your-mentalmess5-simplescientifically-proven-stepsto-reduceanxiety-and-toxic-thinking/

[xvii]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #106 Review of Dr. Carolyn Leaf’s  “Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/book-and-app-review-of-neuroscientist-and-best-selling-author-dr-caroline-leafs-cleaning-up-your-mental-mess-coming-march-2-20201/

[xviii]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #134 with Kristen Holmes from Whoop.com we cover “Unlocking a Better You: Measuring Sleep, Recovery, and Strain with a WHOOP Device.” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/kristen-holmes-from-whoopcom-on-unlocking-a-better-you-measuring-sleep-recovery-and-strain/

[xix]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #135 on “Recovery Strategies to Build Resiliency Against Physical, Mental and Emotional Stressors” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/brain-fact-friday-using-recovery-to-become-resilient-to-physical-mental-and-emotional-stressors/

[xx]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #179 with Sun Sachs,  the CEO of Rewire Fitness covers their “First-To-Market Neuro Performance Mobile App for Athletes” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/sun-sachs-ceo-of-rewire-fitness-on-their-first-to-market-neuro-performance-mobile-app-for-athletes/

[xxi]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #116 with Best Selling Author John J Ratey, MD on “The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/best-selling-author-john-j-ratey-md-on-the-revolutionary-new-science-of-exercise-and-the-brain/

[xxii]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #118 with a Deep Dive into John J Ratey’s Books  https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/deep-dive-into-best-selling-author-john-j-rateys-books-spark-go-wild-and-driven-to-distraction/

[xxiii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #123 with Northeastern University Professor Chuck Hillman, Ph.D. on “The Impact of Exercise on the Brain and Learning” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/northeastern-university-professor-chuck-hillman-phd-on-the-impact-of-exercise-on-the-brain-and-learning/

[xxiv] One-quarter of Americans Intend to Improve Mental Health in 2022 December 20, 2021 https://www.healio.com/news/psychiatry/20211220/onequarter-of-americans-intend-to-improve-mental-health-in-2022

In Memory of Presidential Historian Doug Wead on ”Applying Leadership and Character Lessons From the Greatest U.S. Presidents”

In Memory of Presidential Historian Doug Wead on ”Applying Leadership and Character Lessons From the Greatest U.S. Presidents”

December 21, 2021

“We are not limited by money, but rather by the poverty of our own dreams.” Doug Wead

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Watch this interview on YouTube here. https://youtu.be/VN2Ng6mMtHc

On this episode you will learn:

✔︎ Why it's important that we ask others for help with our goals.
✔︎ How Andrea met the advisor to 2 American Presidents, and how he helped her to create Character and Leadership programs for the K-12 School Market.
✔︎ A Look back at an interview with Andrea and Doug in 2014 on the Greatest US Presidents.
✔︎ A Formula for Leadership that Doug noticed with many US Presidents involving a Mamma's Boy and an Absent Father.

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for EPISODE #187 with a release of one of our earlier interviews that we released long before we launched this podcast from March, 2014 in memory of my mentor, Presidential Historian, and advisor to two American Presidents, Doug Wead[i], who passed away unexpectedly on Friday December 10th.[ii]

You can listen to the back story of how I met Doug, and his impact on the work we’ve been doing in the field of education on this podcast, since the knowledge and ideas he shared with me back then, are relevant for us today.

 

REMEMBER: This is one of my earlier interviews, and the sound quality is not the same as it is today with advancements in technology and experience.

 

I do hope you enjoy this interview on “The Greatest or Best US Presidents” where I asked him the following questions:

 

  1. Who was the greatest of all US Presidents?
  2. Which Presidents showed great leadership?
  3. Can you explain this formula for leadership that you discovered studying our past Presidents? (A mama’s boy with an absent Father)?
  4. Will we ever see a female President?
  5. How is Barack Obama doing as a President? He was the US President at the time of this interview (March, 2014).
  6. How is President Obama doing as a Father?
  7. What was President Gerald Ford like as a person, since Doug knew him personally?
  8. Final Thoughts of how Doug’s career led him to the Whitehouse.

Wow, what a man! Doug had an incredible career working in the Whitehouse, inspiring many around the world, and it all began with his vision to feed people who were starving to death in Cambodia. In 1970 he co-founded the Charity Awards and was a part of the founding of Mercy Corps which has distributed $2 billion of food and medicine around the world and my hope is that he has inspired you in some way to take action with your goals, whatever they might be.

 

With that, we say goodbye, and I’ve got to say, this is one connection that I am grateful I wasn’t too afraid to reach out to ask for help.

 

 

 

 

 

BIO:

Doug Wead is a New York Times bestselling author and former adviser to two American Presidents. He served as special assistant to the president in the George H.W. Bush White House.

Mr. Wead's books are known for their primary sources. He has interviewed six American presidents, seven first ladies, 19 presidential children and twelve presidential siblings.

In 1970 he co-founded the Charity Awards and was a part of the founding of Mercy Corps which has distributed $2 billion of food and medicine around the world.

FOLLOW ANDREA SAMADI: 

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/AndreaSamadi  

Website https://www.achieveit360.com/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samadi/ 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Achieveit360com  

Neuroscience Meets SEL Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/2975814899101697  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/andreasamadi  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andreasamadi/ 

RESOURCES:

Newsmax https://www.newsmax.com/politics/doug-wead-presidential-historian-obit/2021/12/13/id/1048472/

Mount Rushmore https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Rushmore

REFERENCES:

[i] www.dougwead.com

[ii] https://www.charismanews.com/culture/87802-top-of-the-week-conservative-political-commentator-doug-wead-a-lifelong-pentecostal-dies-of-heart-failure-at-75

Brain Fact Friday on ”Using Neuroscience to Understand the Introverted and Extroverted Brain”

Brain Fact Friday on ”Using Neuroscience to Understand the Introverted and Extroverted Brain”

December 16, 2021

DID YOU KNOW “that the brains of introverts and extroverts are measurably different? MRI technology reveals that the dopamine reward network is more active in the brains of extroverts while introverts have more grey matter.”[i]  I posted a graphic this week with this brain fact written on it on social media, and it drew more feedback and comments than usual, making me think that this needs to be this week’s Brain Fact Friday.

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for BRAIN FACT FRIDAY and EPISODE #186 on “Using Neuroscience to Understand the Introverted and Extroverted Brain”

DID YOU KNOW "That MRI technology reveals that the dopamine reward network is more active in the brains of extroverts while introverts have more gray matter?" (Deane Alban).

On this episode you will learn:
✔︎ Where the terms introvert and extrovert originated from.
✔︎ Characteristics of an introvert, extrovert and what's in between.
✔︎ 3 ways the Introverts' and Extroverts' brains differ.
✔︎ How you can use this information to improve your workplace productivity and social life.

 

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After I posted this graphic on social media that you can see in the show notes, John Harmon, Mind/Brain Researcher from EPISODE #170[ii] made a comment that really made me think, which is the purpose of this podcast. I want us to all think on a deeper level about understanding how our brain functions and impacts our results. He said “this makes sense to me since extroverts engage in more high energy personal interactions. Conversations trigger more emotional ups and downs, including rewarding thoughts and feelings. Especially feelings. With introverts, solitary activity tends to be much more even-keeled emotionally. Feelings of reward are weaker and less frequent. Therefore, the dopamine-laden neural networks that coincide with this feeling will be less active as well.” I had to stop and think after reading John’s thoughts, and it took me inside my own brain. I could those times that I’m stepping away from my usual introverted self where I’m studying, reading and researching in my quiet office, towards a more extroverted persona when I’m speaking in public, and interacting with larger groups, that this high energy interaction results in a spike of dopamine that I enjoy, but not for too long, as I crave the quiet and solitude of my office to bounce back, and recharge before another event.

John’s comments made me want to dive a bit deeper into understanding our personality traits, especially over the holidays when we may be interacting with others more on a social level. If we can understand ourselves and others at the brain level, it might give us more clarity and awareness throughout this holiday season and into the New Year, helping us to see why we feel the way we do, and see beyond the labels of introversion and extroversion.

When I typed introverts and extroverts into Pubmed.gov[iii] where I’ve been taught to look for the most current brain research, I found 170 articles ranging from different topics like Childhood experiences and adult health[iv] or Introversion/extroversion, time stress and caffeine: effects on verbal performance[v] I knew that this would be a good topic to take a closer look at if there were this many abstracts to read. If you want to dive deeper than I go with this Brain Fact, you can easily go to www.pubmed.gov and type in the words introvert and extrovert to see the studies that have been done on this topic. Also, if you want a quick reminder of how to tie in the most current neuroscience research to your next presentation, go back and listen to EPISODE #124 on “How to Be a Neuroscience Researcher in 4 Simple Steps”[vi] and you can easily add brain research to your work.

So, back to this week’s Brain Fact Friday on Introverts and Extroverts. It was Carl Jung who created these terms in the first place, way back in 1920. He deduced that “extroverts gained their energy from their social interactions and external environments and tended to feel uncomfortable and anxious when they found themselves alone. Introverts on the other hand, can replenish their energy levels when they are in quiet environments. Unlike extroverts they find socializing and busy environments overstimulating and too demanding.”[vii] So what are the differences between introverts’ and extroverts’ brains?

  1. The Dopamine Difference: “Introverts are sensitive to dopamine”[viii] which explains why they prefer solitude and calm over those high energy personal interactions. Extroverts draw their energy from others, while introverts need time to recharge after being around others for longer periods of time. This is an easy one to see—you know whether being at a party, especially this time of year is something that fuels you or depletes you. It happened to my husband and I recently, where we were at a party, and the host, an obvious extrovert came over to us, unable to hold in his excitement and exclaimed “Hey guys, I want you to know that we have extended the party by 3 hours!” He was thrilled to share this with us, and we were all having an incredible time, but to an introvert, this news wouldn’t be as exciting to hear. When my husband looked at me and was still ok with leaving the party early to stick to our schedule of waking up early, I was thankful that I was with an introvert like me, who understood this, without saying a word. “Extroverts are less sensitive to dopamine”[ix] and need more of it for their happiness, which was obvious with all the extroverts on the dance floor who were there long after we had left the party and gone to sleep.

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IMAGE SOURCE: The Introvert Brain Explained Illustrated by Marti Olsen Laney

  1. Introverts Prefer a Different Side of Their Nervous System,[x] the parasympathetic side that is responsible for the rest and digest mode and restoring the body to a calm state, vs the sympathetic side that triggers fight, or flight modes.

We dove deep into understanding the Parasympathetic Nervous System with Suzanne Gundersen on EPISODE #59[xi] and her interview that’s worth reviewing as it’s risen to the TOP 10 most watched interviews we’ve conducted and can help us with strategies to calm our brain when under stress.

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Remember: “While extroverts are linked with the dopamine/adrenaline, energy-spending sympathetic nervous system, (allowing them to engage in high energy personal interactions like John Harmon noted), introverts are connected with the acetyl-choline, energy-conserving, parasympathetic nervous system”[xii] that explains the need for taking a break from stimulating environments. “Acetylcholine is related to pleasure, just like dopamine, however acetylcholine makes a person feel good when they turn inward.”[xiii] Understanding ourselves and others is much easier when we can link our personality and how we behave to the wiring within our brain and nervous system, as well as how we respond to the neurotransmitters our brain creates.

  1. Introverts Have More Grey Matter in the Front of Their Brains. A study in the Journal of Neuroscience found that introverts had “thicker gray matter in their prefrontal cortex—the area of their brain associated with abstract thought and decision-making. Extroverts had thinner gray matter in the same area”[xiv]  that’s associated with “deeper thought and planning” which suggests that “extroverts may be more prone to impulsivity than introverts who prefer to mull things over.”[xv]

Travis Bradberry, the author of the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 reminds us that “how social you are is driven by dopamine, the brain’s feel-good hormone. We all have different levels of dopamine-fueled stimulation in the neocortex (the area of the brain that is responsible for higher mental functions such as language and conscious thought). Those who naturally have high levels of stimulation tend to be introverts (like we said above as they are more sensitive to dopamine)—they try to avoid any extra social stimulation that might make them feel anxious or overwhelmed. Those with low levels of stimulation tend to be extroverts. Under-stimulation leaves extroverts feeling bored, so they seek social stimulation to feel good.” Just like my friend, the extrovert who extended the party for 3 more hours that night—this caused his dopamine to rise and kept him on the dance floor all night, while the thought of more dancing made me look at my watch and think of ways to avoid the surge in dopamine with an early night.

While taking a closer look inside our brain and nervous system can help us to gain some understanding, my LinkedIn connection Denny Coates[xvi] reminded me that they key word in this graphic is “more” and that “all healthy human beings have a dopamine reward network and plenty of gray matter. Which means we all have the potential to exercise introversion at times and extroversion at times” reminding us not to compartmentalize people as introverts or extroverts. This rang true to me as there are times I question “what am I, introverted or extroverted” because public speaking energizes me, so I can’t be only a book worm who loves to study and learn in a quiet environment, leading me to think like Denny, and look for what could be in the middle.  I found the term Ambivert whose personality type “doesn’t lean too heavily in either direction. They have a much easier time adjusting their approach to people based on the situation.”[xvii]

What are you? If you still aren’t sure, you can take Travis Bradberry’s 9 Signs You Are an Ambivert Quiz[xviii], and if you answer yes to most of these questions, you are probably like me, and sometimes seek out stimulation, while other times like to avoid it. See how you can leverage your personality type remembering that we don’t have to label ourselves as one or the other, but can learn how to adapt to social situations and make them work for us, not against us.  Here are the 9 questions to ask yourself:

  1. I can perform tasks alone or in a group. I don’t have much preference either way.
  2. Social settings don’t make me uncomfortable, but I tire of being around people too much. (like my dance party example).
  3. Being the center of attention is fun for me, but I don’t like it to last.
  4. Some people think I’m quiet, while others think I’m highly social.
  5. I don’t always need to be moving, but too much down time leaves me feeling bored.
  6. I can get lost in my own thoughts just as easily as I can lose myself in a conversation.
  7. Small talk doesn’t make me uncomfortable, but it does get boring. (I noticed this for the first time recently when someone sat down next to me and started a conversation about nothing. I couldn’t end that conversation fast enough. Has this ever happened to you?)
  8. When it comes to trusting other people, sometimes I’m skeptical, and other times, I dive right in.
  9. If I spend too much time alone, I get bored, yet too much time around other people leaves me feeling drained.

To review this week’s Brain Fact Friday, “Using Neuroscience to Understand the Introverted and Extroverted Brain” I hope this helps you, like it did me, to see inside our brain, at the differences, and help us to see that we don’t have to be one or the other, but to stretch ourselves when we need to in professional or social environments, and then give ourselves a break when we notice we need to back off, and go within to recharge our batteries.

Have a wonderful weekend, whether you will be out at a party, working, or relaxing. Either way, I hope what you choose whatever gives you the most energy to launch a productive week.

See you next week!

FOLLOW ANDREA SAMADI: 

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/AndreaSamadi  

Website https://www.achieveit360.com/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samadi/ 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Achieveit360com  

Neuroscience Meets SEL Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/2975814899101697  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/andreasamadi  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andreasamadi/ 

RESOURCES:

The Introvert Brain Explained https://www.magicaldaydream.com/2013/06/the-introvert-brain-explained.html

REFERENCES:

[i] 72 Amazing Brain Facts by Deane Alban https://bebrainfit.com/human-brain-facts/

[ii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #170 on “Our Brain and Mind Under Pressure” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/cognitive-neuroscience-researcher-john-harmon-on-our-brain-and-mind-under-pressure/

[iii] Research on Introverts and Extroverts https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=introverts%20and%20extroverts&page=2

[iv] Childhood experiences and adult health: the moderating effects of temperament https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32420492/

[v] Introversion/extroversion, time stress and caffeine: effects on verbal performance https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1257762/

[vi]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #124 on “How to Be A Neuroscience Researcher in 4 Simple Steps”  https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/brain-fact-friday-on-how-to-be-a-neuroscience-researcher-in-4-simple-steps/

[vii] Why Introverts are Introverts? Because Their Brains Are Different https://www.lifehack.org/412467/why-introverts-are-introverts-because-their-brains-are-different

[viii]Introverts’ and Extroverts’ Brains Really Are Different, According to Science https://introvertdear.com/news/introverts-and-extroverts-brains-really-are-different-according-to-science/

[ix] IBID

[x] IBID

[xi]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #59 with Suzanne Gundersen  on “Puttig the Polyvagal Theory into Practice” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/suzanne-gundersen-on-the-polyvagal-theory-in-practice/

[xii] The Introvert Brain Explained https://www.magicaldaydream.com/2013/06/the-introvert-brain-explained.html

[xiii] Why Introverts are Introverts? Because Their Brains Are Different https://www.lifehack.org/412467/why-introverts-are-introverts-because-their-brains-are-different

[xiv] Introverts’ and Extroverts’ Brains Really Are Different, According to Science https://introvertdear.com/news/introverts-and-extroverts-brains-really-are-different-according-to-science/

[xv] Introverts vs Extroverts: Brain Scans Reveal Pros and Cons of Personality Types https://www.medicaldaily.com/introverts-vs-extroverts-brain-scans-reveal-pros-and-cons-personality-types-402185?amp=1

[xvi] Dr. Denny Coates https://drdennycoates.com/

[xvii] 9 Signs You’re an Ambivert by Travis Bradberry https://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2016/04/26/9-signs-that-youre-an-ambivert/?sh=257eff263145

[xviii] 9 Signs You’re an Ambivert by Travis Bradberry https://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2016/04/26/9-signs-that-youre-an-ambivert/?sh=257eff263145

Brain Fact Friday on ”Using Neuroscience to Repattern Our Brain”

Brain Fact Friday on ”Using Neuroscience to Repattern Our Brain”

December 9, 2021

DID YOU KNOW that research from the Max Plank Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science in Germany, led by neuroscientist John Dylan-Haynes has shown that the decisions we make daily to act on something, begins “automatically and without involvement of our consciousness”[i] up to 7 seconds BEFORE we take the action we are thinking about? I learned this from Adele Spraggon,[ii] the author of Shift, in this week’s interview #184, while talking about her 4 STEP re-patterning process to break habits for an improved 2022 and it got me thinking about how we could use and understand this brain fact to take our results to new heights, especially as we are preparing for a New Year.

If you are like me, and have ever done something and then wondered “why did I just do that?” then this episode is for you!

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for BRAIN FACT FRIDAY and EPISODE #185 on “Using Neuroscience to Repattern Our Brain.” For those new, or returning guests, welcome back! I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of you listening, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies that we can use to improve our productivity in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments.

This week’s Brain Fact Friday took me back to the late 1990s, when I worked in the personal development industry[iii] and first learned about how our results were all determined by our thoughts, feelings and actions. I’ll put an image I want you to see in the show notes.

Thoughts-Feelings-Actions-OPT.png

 

I used to have this picture taped to my wall so I could see it every day from the speaker I worked with. I’m sure he used to carry it around when he would speak to people one on one, explaining that our thoughts come first. We think an idea (I really want this goal) and then we add emotion or feeling to this goal, that charges us up as we picture ourselves in possession of that goal, changing our body state, and getting us to take action of some sort, moving us in the direction of this goal. The action steps that we take (calling someone, getting mentored and getting ideas to take NEW actions) give us new information that we didn’t have before, and this in turn, changes our conditions, circumstances, and environment, taking us to places beyond where we have ever been before and we achieve our goals, the end result.  This is how I was taught how to bridge the gap between goal setting and achieving, over 20 years ago,  and how I’ve tackled every single goal since then.  I’ve taught this concept to thousands of people (of all different ages) around the world over the years through the books and courses I’ve created. They are old, but the information is still relevant. If you want to take a look, you can access some of my first online courses on Udemy[iv].  On the back of my first book, The Secret for Teens Revealed,[v] I even wrote something that showed how important it was to distinguish the difference between a goal setter and achiever. I wrote:

“When we look at people who have achieved great things, we often believe they are more talented than the rest of us, or luckier, or more well-connected. But the only thing that separates the successful from everybody else is that they have learned to bridge the gap between setting goals and achieving them. They have developed ways of behaving and—more importantly—ways of thinking that enable them to get what they want.”

I knew when I wrote that in 2008 that there was a fine line between setting and achieving goals, and that we must have an unwavering mindset around the goal we are going after, but what I didn’t know, that I learned this week, was that our thinking precedes our actions by up to seven seconds and is pre-determined with a pattern or neural pathway that’s created in my brain, as unique as my own fingerprint long before I take any action.  Understanding this pattern is behind why some people achieve their goals, or not, not their rock-solid mental mindset that’s important, but probably wouldn’t be the deal-breaker.

We must understand that the old way of THINK/FEEL/ACT can lead us into a habit loop, getting the same result over and over again, that no one wants. We want NEW results, and when we use neuroscience to re-pattern our brain, we know it begins with understanding and re-patterning our brain when something isn’t working for us.

I learned from Adele Spraggon’s book Shift that “we FEEL first (information comes in though the senses, and it changes the body’s vibration). We ACT second and THINK last and that thought does not activate the sequence; it follows.”[vi]

If we want to take a different action and get a new result, we need a NEW pattern that begins with being in tune with what we FEEL first, then ACT and THINK last. If you haven’t listened to EPISODE #184 where Adele explains her 4 STEP approach, I would be sure to listen to this episode next, but I thought it was too important to not cover this on this week’s Brain Fact Friday.

To review this week’s brain fact,

Did you know that we can predict what someone is thinking up to seven seconds before we think that thought[vii] and “by looking at brain activity while making a decision, researchers could predict” what people were thinking before they were consciously aware of it?[viii]

We know this to be true because we have all done this—taken an action, not being consciously aware of exactly what we are doing and then asking ourselves “why did I just do that?”

The difference between goal setters and goal achievers are that they THINK and BEHAVE differently. How do they do this? They are 100% in tune with what’s working for them, or not. They know the patterns that they are taking that lead them towards the results they are looking for, and when something is not leading them towards what they want, they switch the pattern.

It’s that simple. Here’s how implement this week’s brain fact Friday.

  1. STEP 1: Uncover What’s Not Working: If you want to achieve new results with something you are working on, is all you need to do is ask yourself “What’s not working with what I am doing” and this will help put you back on course to achieving your end result. It begins with being honest with what needs to change.
  2. STEP 2: Listen to What Your Feel Before You Act. To avoid taking actions that put you back into your habit loop, pay attention to how you feel. We’ve talked about interoception, or listening to what you feel in your body on many different episodes. Slow down and pay attention and you will know if the action is right for you, or not.
  3. STEP 3: Take a NEW Action: Different to what wasn’t working and notice the results. If you are moving in the direction of what you want, you have re-patterned your brain to a new result. Life should feel easy, peaceful and like Adele mentioned, “everyone should feel happy” around you.

If you are thinking of what you would like to change in 2022, I hope you can see how this re-patterning approach can help take you to new heights.

As we are progressing on this podcast, and I look back at older episodes, like EPISODE #35 from January 2020 “Using Your Brain to Break Bad Habits”[ix] I can see where we are learning new ideas together that are essentially re-patterning our brains. 2 years ago, I was setting goals with the idea that “Neurons that Fire Together, Wire Together” and “Neurons that are out of Synch, Fail to Link” so I knew that old habits would eventually die out, (and fail to link) which they usually do. Habit breaking shouldn’t be difficult, when you follow Adele Spraggon’s 4 STEP Method from our last episode, but when something is difficult to break, it always goes back to the patterns that YOU’VE created in YOUR brain that you need to re-pattern. If you were able to create the habit, then you can also create a new habit that works better for you.

Remember: The decisions we make daily to act on something, begins “automatically and without involvement of our consciousness” so we had better be sure that the actions we are taking daily are moving us towards those things that we want (our goals) not away from them.

See you next week!

FOLLOW ANDREA SAMADI: 

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/AndreaSamadi  

Website https://www.achieveit360.com/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samadi/ 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Achieveit360com  

Neuroscience Meets SEL Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/2975814899101697  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/andreasamadi  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andreasamadi/ 

REFERENCES:

[i] Our Brains Make Up Our Minds Before We Know it by Douglas Van Preet Dec. 21, 2020 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/unconscious-branding/202012/our-brains-make-our-minds-we-know-it

[ii]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #184 with Adele Spraggon on “Using Science to Break Up with Your Bad Habits”  https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/adele-spraggon-on-using-science-to-break-up-with-your-bad-habits-in-4-simple-steps/

[iii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #67 on “Expanding Your Awareness with a Deep Dive into Bob Proctor’s Seminars” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/expanding-your-awareness-with-a-deep-dive-into-bob-proctors-most-powerful-seminars/

[iv] The Secret for Teens Revealed Online Course on Udemy by Andrea Samadi https://www.udemy.com/course/the-secret-for-teens-revealed-a-10-step-success-blueprint/

[v] The Secret for Teens Revealed by Andrea Samadi Sept. 15, 2008 https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Teens-Revealed-Teenagers-Leadership/dp/1604940336

[vi] Adele Spraggon, Shift (Page 12) http://www.shift4steps.com/

[vii] Mind Reading with Brain Scanners John Dylan-Haynes TEXxBerlin Published on YouTube October 1, 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMDuakmEEV4

[viii] Brain Makes Decisions Before You Even Know it Published April, 2008 by Kerri Smith https://www.nature.com/articles/news.2008.751

[ix]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE  https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/how-to-use-your-brain-to-break-bad-habits-in-2020/

”Shift” Author, Adele Spraggon on ”Using Science to Break Up with Your Bad Habits for a Successful 2022!”

”Shift” Author, Adele Spraggon on ”Using Science to Break Up with Your Bad Habits for a Successful 2022!”

December 8, 2021

As we are finalizing Q4 of 2021, with the holidays on the horizon, I know that you are probably like like me, and on the lookout for any new strategy that we can learn that will take our game to a new level in 2022. I’ll cover our lessons learned this year in another episode, and have some fun ideas coming up as we approach episode #200, but as you know, we are always looking for brain-aligned strategies that we can all use to implement immediately, and I found something that I think we should all know about, with our next speaker. She was recognized in 2021 as the Top Behavior Expert of the Year[i] with her 4 STEP re-patterning approach that digs deep into our subconscious mind, so we can change those habits or behaviors that we’ve got running on auto-pilot, for new and improved results in 2022. If there are ANY new brain-aligned strategies that I come across in my research,  I will find them, and share them with you here.

Watch the interview on YouTube here https://youtu.be/U7N0JzxJHO0

Learn more about Adele Spraggon and her Shift book https://www.adelespraggon.com/  

On this episode you will learn:

✔︎  ONE question you can ask yourself at the end of the year, to free up your energy for 2022.

✔︎  How habits are formed in the brain (good and bad ones).

✔︎  How Adele Spraggon found a NEW 4 STEP re-patterning approach that does NOT involve replacing an OLD habit with a NEW one.

✔︎  How to know if our habits and patterns are working for us, or not.

✔︎  How Adele's simple and easy to use 4-STEP re-patterning method can help you to jumpstart your 2022.

✔︎  The benefits of re-patterning old, outdated habits.

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for EPISODE #184 with an award-winning author, thought leader, international trainer and fearless speaker, Adele Spraggon[ii]. Her book, Shift, 4 Steps to Personal Empowerment[iii] has won three awards for its powerful message of inspiration and hope and is sweeping the globe, transforming how people are setting and achieving their goals.

For those new, or returning guests, welcome back! I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of you listening, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies that we can use to improve our productivity in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments. My vision is to bring the experts to you, share their books, resources, and ideas to help you to implement their proven strategies, whether you are a teacher working in the classroom or online, a student, or in the corporate environment.

I want to welcome Adele Spraggon, from my hometown of Toronto, Canada today, and get straight to some questions that I hope will give us a new look at goal setting/achieving with our brain in mind, and be the perfect episode for us as we leap into 2022.

Welcome Adele, thank you very much for joining me today and sharing your book and proprietary 4 STEP repatterning approach with our listeners at this very important time of year.

Adele, we have a common thread that I learned when I began reading your book and studying your work. We both began our work in the personal development field and before I get to my first question for you, I noticed as we connected on LinkedIn that we have a couple of speakers and authors in common from my hometown. Just curious to see if we were in similar circles when I lived in Toronto, did you attend Gerry’s Book Publishing seminar or any of Bob’s events?

I know we both noticed there was something wrong with the way that we were initially taught HOW to set and achieve goals. (think/feel/act (that I learned in the late 1990s)  vs FEEL/ACT/THINK) where we use what neuroscientists call interoception to FEEL before we act. This was missing from everything we were taught right from our first days in school, through college and into our careers. I noticed this distinction over the past couple of years of interviewing experts on the podcast, but when I heard you explain it, I understood it at a whole new level  and you created your proprietary 4 STEP re-patterning approach when you saw it, which I think is brilliant.

INTRO Q: Can you share WHEN you first saw the need to teach others how to use their brain to achieve their goals or whatever it is we are working on and why it’s important to notice that FEELING must precede our ACTIONS?

Q1: I have done a lot of thinking (and episodes) on breaking habits and one of my earlier episodes #35 was on “How to Use Your Brain to Break Bad Habits”[iv] where we talk about the fact that “Neurons that fire together, wire together” when we are reinforcing a habit or something we are doing over and over again with this neural pathway. Then I discovered from Stefanie Faye on episode #133[v] that the brain creates high priority pathways with skills we are practicing over and over again, and how the brain re-wires itself using myelin that actually increases the speed and efficiency of these electrical impulses along the nerve cells with what we are practicing, which makes it easier for us to understand how habits are formed and reinformed in the brain. Then, I even heard on EPISODE #143 with Dr. Jon Lieff[vi], on his new book, The Secret Language of Cells, that anything we do AFTER exercise is further reinforced in the brain.

With these three brain facts in mind, with how habits are formed and reinforced in the brain, can you explain WHY some of our habits are so difficult to BREAK, (while some we can break without any effort at all)?

1B) What needs to be in place FIRST in order to change behaviors that aren’t working for us?

Q2- In your book, you say that no patterns are wrong—they either work for the given situation you are in they don’t. This question took me beyond where my thinking usually goes, because as we try new strategies to achieve new results, we will learn new habits.  What question can we ask ourselves to identify the habits quickly and easily that we need to shift?

Q3- Adele, Can you take us through your 4 step re-patterning process to help us once we have identified what we want to change? How does the old pattern disappear? Is it just from no longer thinking about it? That pathway in the brain eventually just stops being reinforced and disappears? How long can we expect this to process to take?

Q3B) How do we know if the NEW patterns we’ve created (in its place) will work for us?

Q4: Is there anything important that I have missed that is important for us to think about at this time of year about habit breaking?

Q5- What are the benefits of repatterning old habits? What will this process do for us?

Q6-For people who want to learn more about the book, what’s the best place for someone to find it?

Adele, I want to thank you very much for sharing this powerful 4 STEP process to rewire our brain, especially at this time of year when many of us are looking back at the year at what didn’t work and thinking of changes we make immediately for an improved 2022.

For people to learn more about you, I will link all of your social media channels in the show notes, as well as http://www.shift4steps.com/ where you have a clear call to action to help people to get unstuck with this 4 step process?

Thank you!

FOLLOW ADELE SPRAGGON

Website https://www.adelespraggon.com/ 

Book Promo Page http://www.shift4steps.com/ 

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/adelespraggon/ 

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/adele.spraggon 

Twitter https://twitter.com/AdeleSpraggon

 

FOLLOW ANDREA SAMADI: 

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/AndreaSamadi  

Website https://www.achieveit360.com/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samadi/ 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Achieveit360com  

Neuroscience Meets SEL Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/2975814899101697  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/andreasamadi  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andreasamadi/ 

REFERENCES:

John-Dylan Haynes https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6993585_Decoding_mental_states_from_brain_activity_in_human

RESOURCES:

Interview with Adele Spraggon and Kerri Macaulay on the Choose Unstoppable Podcast https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/choose-unstoppable/id1498640322?i=1000541227865&fbclid=IwAR27FhLfiQArlQ4D6JOJPLJ_gQ-oTRFnCzdk0p9wS57-g1f4SDuBsRXDlAs

REFERENCES:

[i] Adele Spraggon selected as Top Behavioral Change Expert of the Year 2021 https://www.prunderground.com/adele-spraggon-selected-as-top-behavioural-change-expert-of-the-year-by-iaotp/00212951/

[ii] https://www.adelespraggon.com/

[iii] Shift: 4 Steps to Personal Empowerment by Adele Spraggon https://www.adelespraggon.com/offers/L7Yd4CQz/checkout

[iv]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #35 on “How to Use Your Brain to Break Bad Habits” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/how-to-use-your-brain-to-break-bad-habits-in-2020/

[v]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #133 https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/brain-fact-friday-applying-neuroplasticity-to-your-school-or-workplace/

[vi] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #143 with Dr. Jon Lieff on “The Secret Language of Cells” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/jon-lieff-md-on-the-secret-language-of-cells-what-biological-conversations-tell-us-about-the-brain-body-connection/

Dr. Simone Alicia, The Self-Esteem Doctor on ”Self-Esteem: Why We Must Have it To Succeed.”

Dr. Simone Alicia, The Self-Esteem Doctor on ”Self-Esteem: Why We Must Have it To Succeed.”

December 4, 2021

Have you ever held back something about yourself that you are either aware of consciously, or not, without realizing how impactful sharing this part of you could be for your career, or how many more people you could help when the shields come down, and you finally allow others to see yourself for who you are?

Watch the interview on YouTube here. https://youtu.be/CmPlSZKc-NA

On this episode you will learn:

✔︎ How Dr. Simone Alicia made the connection between the fashion runway, and helping young people tap into reservoirs of self-esteem.

✔︎ How she began teaching young people brain-aligned solutions with success, years before knowing this is what she was doing.

✔︎ How her life skyrocketed when she became authentic, and began using her background as a runway model to help others.

✔︎ How you can join and help her self-esteem mission at www.theselfesteemdoctor.com 

Our next guest, a former model turned educator, who has brushed shoulders with Jamie Foxx and Will Smith, did just that, for many years, until she questioned why she was holding back this critical piece of who she was, and it opened the doorway for her career, helping many young people in the process.

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for EPISODE #183 with Dr. Simone Alicia, otherwise known as the Self Esteem Doctor.

For those new, or returning guests, welcome! I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of you listening, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies that we can use to improve our productivity in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments. My vision is to bring the experts to you, share their books, resources, and ideas to help you to implement their proven strategies, whether you are a teacher working in the classroom or online, a student, or in the corporate environment.

Today’s guest, Dr. Simone Alicia, or the Self-Esteem doctor was introduced to me over Thanksgiving week. When I began researching her work, I was shocked at the many similarities in her life, to mine. Not that I was a runway model, like she was, as exciting as that looks, but we were both educators, who saw a serious need to help young people with their self-esteem. She built her business through the fashion runway, helping young people to find their potential this way, launching a magazine[i] (twice a year) just like we did with The Teen Performance Magazine[ii] where we interviewed celebrity teens to help improve the self-esteem of young people by showing them that even celebrities suffer with self-doubt, and how they overcame their insecurities.

Dr. Simone Alicia says it best herself that "Self Esteem is a mindset. It’s a focused belief about yourself and your ability to succeed in life. This is your path to clarity, wholeness and lasting happiness. It is the key for you and for everyone. Life’s too short to wait, align with the greatness within you and do it now!” she says and I agree 100%. Life is short—so don’t hold back, with anything.

Dr. Alicia went on to create incredible resources on her YouTube Channel,[iii] with online courses[iv], and has been a keynote speaker with many different organizations around the country.[v] She has her own podcast that people as young as age 6 and up, will find engaging and motivating.

I was drawn to Dr. Simone Alicia because I’ve always been curious as to why we hold ourselves back. It began when I was younger and missed opportunities because I was afraid of taking risks, and it’s why I began working with young people and self-esteem in the late 1990s, with the hopes that even one of the young people we’ve helped, goes on to accomplish their wildest dreams and this is exactly what Dr. Alicia said inspires her. It’s like Marianne Williamson’s poem where she says “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, famous?”

I’m so excited for what we will uncover together, about her pathway to help young people discover their greatness, how she has been using brain-aligned strategies for years before they were making an impact in our schools and where she is focused on making an impact next.

Let’s meet Dr. Simone Alicia!

Welcome Dr. Alicia, thank you for joining me today. I’ve got to say, it’s not often that I’m preparing for an interview, and thinking “this sounds so much like me” and it kind of shocked me as to how similar our paths were, especially when the only runway I’ve ever seen, I was standing next to it, not on it! What a fascinating background you have.

INTRO Q: I like to open with a question that digs a bit deeper into anything I have uncovered in my research about you, and you go very deep on your podcast, and I will ask you some questions around that a bit later, but can we start with the fact that you (like me) both were drawn to teach self-esteem to kids. I know the moment that hit me like a brick in my stomach (when I saw a speaker working with 12 teens with like you said, these concepts that we now know to be called social and emotional skills (including growth mindset) and their results skyrocketed. It was clear to me what I was meant to do with my life at that point, but it’s been a 20-year journey from that moment to now. Can you share with us was there a moment of truth like I had where you just knew…this is what I need to do?

Q1: When I saw this need, there was this specific moment that just about destroyed me. When I saw it, I just remember that I started crying. It was embarrassing because I had to go sell books and there were all these famous people around. Melanie Griffith was there, and this famous athlete came to speak to me, and when I cry, it’s sort of noticeable. My whole face goes red. I just remember looking down and thinking “Oh Goodness, please get me through this.” I was working for this speaker, (Bob Proctor) and he was featuring these 12 teens and There was a moment when the speaker stood behind a teen who was having a hard time speaking in public (we’ve all been there) and he stood behind the teen and rubbed his back in such a way that he calmed down and I think the speaker just instinctively knew what to do with these kids to change their results, and this is exactly what happened. I heard you say exactly the same thing. You just instinctively knew what to do when there was someone in front of you that needed help. Can you take me through the process of how you began to use the runway as a way to help young people with their self-esteem?

Q2: So why is this skill so important? I saw it with that young kid who struggled to speak in public and thought “oh please don’t let this kid miss out on a lifetime of opportunity because he is afraid of what others will think of him.” I’ve since reached out to his Dad, who is extremely successful and well-known worldwide, and he wrote back immediately, connecting me to him. I can see this young man is now married, and I’ll find out more, and would love to get him on the podcast (thanks to you reminding me of this whole experience) but what did you see? What was it about this skill (self-esteem)  that made you dedicate your life to it?

Q3: Many schools these days are dealing with students with trauma and many of us who are educators don’t have training in this area. I’ve just started to learn about trauma and the brain in this Neuroscience Certification course I am very close to completing and I saw something right away with your story. You know, the one that was difficult, with one of your first client who came to you with trauma, and you were able to change her life through the runway? Well, I connected the work of Joseph LeDoux[vi] on memory reconsolidation with your experience. I wonder, are you aware of Joseph LeDoux’s work? If so, has this idea of going back to a traumatic memory in a good place (like you recreate on the runway) and change her whole mindset about the trauma that occurred with her. Are you aware of memory reconsolidation and perhaps HOW you helped that one girl overcome this traumatic experience using the runway?

Q4: So what do we leave out? As we move forward in our careers, and many of us take off beyond where we were before, do we talk about our roots? I don’t particularly like sharing the fact that I was scared in my early days. I’m not that way anymore, but someone listening who might be afraid of launching an idea into the world could see that we all start out somewhere. At what point did you realize you had to unmute your modelling history?

Q5: I heard about this technique through the speaker I worked with over 25 years ago. He used to say that it was Jack Nicklaus who invented it. He would say “you need to go to the movies with your sport” and visualize every moment of the game ahead of time with golfing. I know that athletes now see how valuable this exercise it and I’ve received many emails about this over the years asking for tips on visualization. Why do you think mental rehearsal is so important and what does it have to do with self-esteem building?

Q6: What are your programs/services that you offer?

Q7:  What’s next/vision for the future? Where are you going now?

Thank you very much for your time today, Dr. Alicia. If anyone wants to reach you, what’s the best way?

Thank you!

Discover FREE Resources here https://www.theselfesteemdoctoracademy.com/

To join the Self-Esteem Doctor Academy https://www.theselfesteemdoctoracademy.com/pages/how-it-works

FOLLOW THE SELF ESTEEM DOCTOR

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FOLLOW ANDREA SAMADI: 

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/AndreaSamadi  

Website https://www.achieveit360.com/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samadi/ 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Achieveit360com  

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/andreasamadi  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andreasamadi/ 

RESOURCES:

Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #90 with The Host of the Great Lifestyle Podcast, Luke DePron on “Neuroscience, Health, Fitness and Growth” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/host-of-the-live-great-lifestyle-podcast-luke-depron-on-neuroscience-health-fitness-and-growth/

Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #127 on “How Emotions Impact Learning, Memory and the Brain” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/brain-fact-friday-how-emotions-impact-learning-memory-and-the-brain/

REFERENCES:

[i] TSED Magazine (Dr. Alicia) https://www.theselfesteemdoctoracademy.com/pages/tsed-magazine

[ii]The Teen Performance Magazine (Andrea Samadi)  https://www.magcloud.com/browse/magazine/77535

[iii]Dr. Alicia YouTube  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7Us6sa8YgVAPn3Ui9asWlA

[iv] Dr. Alicia Online Courses https://www.theselfesteemdoctoracademy.com/pages/categories

[v] Dr. Alicia Speaking https://www.theselfesteemdoctoracademy.com/pages/speaking-request

[vi] How Can Memory Reconsolidation Work In Therapy? Published Nov. 9, 2017 featuring neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPCzAf9TIFk

Brain Fact Friday on ”Accelerating Literacy: Understanding How the Brain Learns to Read”

Brain Fact Friday on ”Accelerating Literacy: Understanding How the Brain Learns to Read”

December 2, 2021

DID YOU KNOW that “How quickly and successfully the brain learns to read”[i] is greatly influenced by the student’s ability to speak.  “It is important to understand what cognitive neuroscience has revealed about how the brain processes the spoken word” (Souza, page 11) when looking to unlock the secret for accelerating literacy with our students, or children.

On this episode you will learn:

✔︎ How the brain learns to read.

✔︎ Why it's so important that our children/students learn to read by 3rd grade.

✔︎ Strategies that you can use today to accelerate reading with your emergent bilingual students, or struggling readers.

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for BRAIN FACT FRIDAY and EPISODE #182 on “Accelerating Literacy: Understanding How the Brain Learns to Read”

For those new, or returning guests, welcome! I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of you listening, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies that we can use to improve our productivity in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments.

For this week’s Brain Fact Friday, I’m deep in the middle of preparing for a presentation with Assistant Superintendent Greg Wolcott[ii], and his Learning Abilities Summit. If you are an educator, looking for new ideas and strategies for your students, please do visit his Summit page to learn more.[iii]  For a reasonable cost, he offers training for educators that’s available virtually, from people around the country who share their expertise to accelerate learning for your students. I highly recommend following these Summits and offering them to your staff for professional development.

As an educational consultant, I first began making the connection with how the brain impacts learning back in 2014 and began creating presentations around what I was learning years before I had launched this podcast. One project was with an educational publisher who asked me to create a whitepaper on how ELL (English Language Learners or our Emergent Bilingual) students learn to read. This was right in the middle of watching my youngest daughter struggle with learning to read in 1st grade (she’s now in 5th grade struggles much less) but as we begin, I have to say that I have not only taught these strategies to educators, and created training materials with them, but have personally used them with my own daughter as learning to read is not only a challenge for our ELL students, but many English speaking students as well.

Before I offer some of the strategies, I discovered in my research to create this whitepaper to accelerate literacy, I think it's always important to dig deeper into "the why" behind looking for solutions to the most common challenges our students are facing when learning to read. We know that every child learns at their own pace, but there are important metrics to notice with reading and I did ask Dr. Daniel Ansari, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning about these benchmarks when it comes to numeracy and math on our interview #138[iv] this past summer. If you want to review the important metrics he suggests for math, please do revisit his interview by looking at the references in the show notes. But getting back to literacy—I want to share some statistics (and these are US statistics for our international listeners) but you will get the point no matter where you are listening to this podcast. I’m sure it wouldn’t shock you to know the problems that illiteracy is causing in America (and internationally) but if we dig just a bit deeper, did you know that:

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  1. 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.
  2. 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read at all.
  3. Students who don't read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school.
  4. Nearly 85% of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, proving that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime. More than 60% of all inmates are functionally illiterate.
  5. In 2013, Washington, D.C. was ranked the most literate American city for the third year in a row, with Seattle and Minneapolis close behind.
  6. Long Beach, CA was ranked the country’s most illiterate city, followed by Mesa, AZ, and Aurora, CO.

 

It’s eye opening to see these statistics.

 

These Shocking Statistics that Lead To

  • High Drop-out Rates
  • Low Graduation Rates and College Completion
  • Incarceration
  • Welfare…for our students.

And can contribute to work burnout and other health challenges for teachers (who continue to look for new angles to help students who are struggling--many times without making progress because it's not about asking our students to read MORE but understanding HOW they are reading) proving that it’s a critical time to look for new ways to accelerate literacy with our students. I can’t forget to mention Howard Berg’s[v] interview on speed reading on tips for improving reading comprehension. Please do look in the show notes for his interview on accelerating literacy.

If you have a struggling reader (if you are a teacher, or parent)

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THINK ABOUT THESE QUESTIONS:

  • Has the student developed a vast vocabulary?
  • Are there grammatical errors in their speech?
  • How do students put their sentences together?

These are all clues to help us to understand additional ways that we can help our students to improve their ability to read. If there are challenges with any one of these questions, there may be a challenge with the student’s ability to read—that begins with their ability to speak.

Think about this for a moment. Think of a struggling reader that you know. What have you noticed about how they speak?

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An incredible feature of the human brain is that it “acquires the spoken language fairly quickly and accurately.” (Souza page 12) We are born with the ability to distinguish sounds from written symbols and express ourselves to others. Before we had advanced brain scanning technologies, we found evidence of how the brain produced the spoken language from injured brains. The Broca’s Area (named after French physician Paul Broca) and the Wernicke Area (named after German neurologist Carl Wernicke) are the 2 main areas of the brain that produce the spoken language.

Research in cognitive neuroscience indicates that learning any skill (including reading) requires the following four elements (SLC, 2000)

  1. Practice: For the brain to build and strengthen the neural pathway required for that new skill.
  2. Intensity: Learning a new skill requires focus and concentration.
  3. Cross Training of Skills: By bringing together skills to support reading (such as spoken language fluency and comprehension)
  4. Motivation and Attention: Motivation is the key to learning any new skill.

There must be strategies involved to increase the students' motivation to read.

Studies do show that the brain’s “ability to acquire the spoken language is best during the first 10 years of life” (Souza, page 15) but this does not mean we cannot learn a new language after age 10. It just means it takes more effort.

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However, unlike the spoken language, the brain does not have one area specialized for reading. Reading takes up many parts of the brain working together like a symphony. You can see how the skills needed to link the sounds we produce from the letters of the alphabet, must be learned from direct instruction. Emerging readers can build strong reading skills through repetition and practice to strengthen the neural pathways used as the brain learns to read.

The Reading Brain Involves Many Parts of the Brain Working Together:

  • The temporal lobe (that is responsible for phonological awareness and decoding sounds)
  • The frontal lobe (that looks after speech production, reading fluency, grammar, and comprehension)
  • The angular and supramarginal gyrus that links the different parts of the brain together to execute the action of reading
  • The parietal lobe (turns letters into words, understanding language)
  • The occipital lobe (the visual processing center)

So how can we unlock the reader within each of our students and bring all these parts of the brain together, working in unison?

If you want to learn the details of all 9 brain-aligned strategies, please do click on the link to access this presentation, and many others, through Greg Wolcott’s Learning Abilities Summit[vi] but I will cover the first strategy for this week’s Brain Fact Friday.

REVIEW THIS WEEK’S BRAIN FACT FRIDAY

Remember that “how quickly and successfully the brain learns to read”[vii] is greatly influenced by the student’s ability to speak.

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STRATEGY 1: Building Vocabulary that Skyrockets Students Past Their Obstacles When They Become Stuck.  

I learned this strategy from David Sousa’s “How the Brain Learns to Read Series.”[viii]

Learning to read requires “a solid mental lexicon of spoken vocabulary” (Sousa) and although many researchers “differ on the nature of these networks, most agree that the mental lexicon is organized according to meaningful relationships between words.” (Sousa)

“It seems that the brain stores clusters of closely associated words in a tightly packed network so that words within the network can activate each other in minimal time.

Activating words between networks, however, takes longer.” (Sousa) It would take the brain a shorter period of time to connect words in the same categories (vegetables, peas, peppers, artichoke) and consequently longer to access words not connected in the same network as (frog and salad) for example.

Put it into Action: When learning new vocabulary words, be sure to connect words in categories and practice new words in clusters, using maps or webs. During pre-writing, take one word in the middle of a paper and map out as many words and ideas that are connected to this one word to form a sentence.

For ELLs: You would think that exposing ELLS to English and having them interact with native English speakers will result in them learning English. This is a misconception. ELLS must “pay conscious attention to the grammatical, morphological and phonological aspects of the English language.” (Sousa) They need targeted instruction beyond immersion.

For example—interactions between EL and native English speakers in the mainstream classroom do not occur naturally. When they do happen, they are often brief exchanges of conversational English that doesn’t provide the opportunity to develop academic language.”

So, to build NEW academic vocabulary (not just conversational) for our students with our brain in mind, BE SURE TO: Create Meaningful Relationships Between Words and Students’ Mental Lexicon because Vocabulary Words in the Same Category are Easier for the Brain to Access.

This brain-aligned strategy can be used for any student learning to read.

I hope you have found this week’s Brain Fact Friday useful. When sitting with your students, or children, when they are reading, see if you can look at them through a new lens, with their brain in mind. As they are reading words, and they struggle with one, see if you can get them to think of this word in a category of other similar words. Instead of just explaining the meaning behind new words, without any context, offer another word that would go along with the word they are challenged with, (like we saw the example of peas, lettuce and peppers) to place this word in their brain, in a cluster with other similar words, where it can be accessed quickly and easily the next time, they come across it.

Remember this week’s Brain Fact Friday and that “how quickly and successfully the brain learns to read”[ix] is greatly influenced by the student’s ability to speak. With this in mind, I’m sure you would know that the other strategies I discovered to help accelerate literacy, include many ways to have students practice reading out loud with confidence, listening to others reading, giving and receiving feedback and of course ways to organize their writing.

See you next week!

FOLLOW ANDREA SAMADI: 

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/AndreaSamadi  

Website https://www.achieveit360.com/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samadi/ 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Achieveit360com  

Neuroscience Meets SEL Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/2975814899101697  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/andreasamadi  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andreasamadi/ 

REFERENCES:

[i] David A Sousa How the Brain Learns to Read Published March 62014 https://www.amazon.com/Brain-Learns-Read-David-Sousa/dp/1483333949 Page 11

[ii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #7 Greg Wolcott on “Building Relationships in Today’s Classrooms” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/greg-wolcott-on-building-relationships-in-todays-classrooms/

[iii] Learning Abilities Summit https://www.firsteducation-us.com/learning-abilities-summit

[iv]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #138 with Dr. Daniel Ansari on “The Future of Educational Neuroscience”  https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/professor-and-canada-research-chair-in-developmental-cognitive-neuroscience-and-learning-on-the-future-of-educational-neuroscience/

[v] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #145 with the World’s Fastest Reader, Howard Berg on “Strategies to Improve Reading Comprehension and Recall” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/the-worlds-fastest-reader-howard-stephen-berg-on-strategies-to-improve-reading-comprehension-and-recall-for-educators-and-the-workplace/

[vi] Learning Abilities Summit https://www.firsteducation-us.com/learning-abilities-summit

[vii] David A Sousa How the Brain Learns to Read Published March 62014 https://www.amazon.com/Brain-Learns-Read-David-Sousa/dp/1483333949 Page 11

[viii] David A Sousa How the Brain Learns to Read Published March 62014 https://www.amazon.com/Brain-Learns-Read-David-Sousa/dp/1483333949

[ix] David A Sousa How the Brain Learns to Read Published March 62014 https://www.amazon.com/Brain-Learns-Read-David-Sousa/dp/1483333949 Page 11

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