How a lack of sleep affects our cognitive performance

Posted in: January 26, 2020 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson
cognitive performance, sleep deprivation, insomnia

Are you forgetful or tend to lose focus easily?

Do you often forget things or tasks that you are sure you know or is it challenging to concentrate on complex assignments? If so, then you are probably experiencing insomnia or more commonly known as sleeplessness which is detrimental to your cognitive performance. 

Sleep deprivation affects brain performance.

That’s right; insomnia can keep hinder you from thinking clearly and put on a perpetual emotional roller-coaster. Studies show that chronic sleepiness can affect the output of the job, cause mood problems such as depression and anger, and can wreak havoc on relationships.

Recent research has set out some of the common reasons why we need adequate sleep and all of the tasks that the brain seems to perform as we sleep. There is more to find out, but here are a few explanations of why the brain needs sleep, and how a lack of sleep affects our cognitive ability and performance. 

Sleep deprivation slows down your thought processes

Researchers assessing sleepiness have found that a lack of sleep results in lower concentration and alertness. Focusing and paying attention becomes more complicated, and you are more easily confused. This also hinders the ability to carry out activities involving logical reasoning or abstract thought, all of which, are cognitive performance abilities.

Sleepiness hinders judgment, too. It’s more challenging to make choices because you can’t analyze circumstances and pick the right actions.

Lack of sleep can impair your memory

Research suggests that adequate sleep can strengthen the nerve connections which make our memories during sleep. Sleep embeds into our short-term memory the things we have learned and encountered over the day. Specific stages of sleep appear to play different roles in consolidating new information into memories. If you are cut short of sleep, it may interfere with these memory building cycles.

You may forget and often misplace things when you are sleepy. The inability to concentrate can further weaken memory and affect cognition. When you can’t focus on what’s at hand, it won’t make it into your short-term memory and long-term memory.

Sleeplessness makes learning new things difficult

Sleep deprivation impacts your learning ability in two ways. 

  1. It’s more difficult to pick up information because you can’t focus due to sleeplessness 
  2. You can’t learn effectively due to slow thought process and impairment of short-term memory

It also affects long-term memory, which is essential for learning. Sleepiness in children can lead to hyperactivity, which hampers learning as well. Teens are more prone to lose focus, discipline, and memory ability in school to perform well.

Insomnia links to slowed reaction time

Insomnia slows down the reaction time, a particular problem while driving, doing work, or other activities requiring a quick response. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at least 100,000 police-reported crashes are due to driver fatigue each year. Nearly one-third of Americans reported nodding off while driving in the 2017 survey of the National Sleep Foundation.

Evaluate your quality of sleep

Because the needs of an individual’s sleep differ, experts say how you feel is the best way to assess whether you get enough sleep. If your body is getting proper sleep, you shouldn’t feel sleepy after waking up. You should be enthusiastic all day long and wind down gradually as you reach your usual bedtime. 

Ask yourself if your performance is where you want it to be. Is a lack of sleep affecting your cognitive performance? Evaluating your daily skills and quality of life is critical to assess whether a lack of sleep is affecting your cognition, emotional well-being, and performance. 

Learn more about how to improve your sleep and quality of life by getting a free copy of Becoming Extraordinary 

References

http://jass.neuro.wisc.edu/2017/01/Lab%20601%20Group%201.pdf

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41105-017-0099-5

The Brains Behind Conflict and Conflict Resolution

Posted in: June 14, 2019 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

Conflict and the Brain

            As a leader of teams, you’re no stranger to conflict. It pervades all aspects of daily life at work; between your employees, between you and your employees, between you and others, and of course, within yourself. Yes, conflict is a human condition. Would you like to learn how to manage conflict and use it to achieve the best possible outcome – at work and at home? Examining what is occurring in your brain in times of conflict is the key to understanding and resolution. This exercise is also highly recommended by the top cognitive performance coaches. 

So, what is conflict? 

Here, we’ll define conflict as an interpersonal disagreement, when two or more individuals disagree because of a difference in opinion, competition, negative perceptions, poorly defined role expectations, or lack of communication. Organizational conflict is considered to have a negative impact on team functioning, weakening company stability, disrupting the status quo, and impeding productivity. It’s important to learn to resolve conflict lest it interferes with your company’s operations. 

What is the genesis of conflict?  

The good news is that conflict origination is a well-studied area. “Conflicts can result from an incompatibility of expectations, motivation, goals or values between two or more individuals or groups. In many situations, social conflicts reflect a competition for common and limited resources, goods or territories.” Studies tend to frame that conflict as manifested in one of five predisposing phases. Conflict starts with unawareness leading to a sense of awareness where there is first unease. Then believed minimized conflict (denial, placating), and then personalized conflict of emotions and thoughts towards self and others (resentments, accusations, blame). The final two phases are when the conflict is more manifestly expressed; and, how this affects the individual and team dynamics. Conflict arises from social hierarchies in the company or differing values, views and goals.  

What does conflict do to the brain?

Whenever you experience something (good or bad), the positive or negative stimulus is registered in your brain’s thalamus, the brain’s relay station. In simplistic terms, from there, the thalamus then sends signals to the amygdala and the neocortex as well as other areas of the brain. 

The amygdala is the part of your brain that generates emotional responses, and helps form, store, and consolidate memories. When a stimulus is received, the amygdala compares that stimulus to a reservoir of memories to determine whether the new stimulus represents a physical threat to your safety. 

Your neocortex, on the other hand, executes your rational thought processes, decision making, and moderating behaviour, and it is often referred to as the conscious mind. When a stimulus is non-threatening, the neocortex plays a regulatory role, keeping you within a range of standard behaviour. The amygdala determines if there is a threat with a yes or no response. The neocortex works through a complex set of options and considers various outcomes and possibilities.

But when your brain perceives a threat, like when you begin to encounter a conflict with someone else in the office, many neurological processes begin to rev up and overlap creating a whirlwind of thoughts, and thus, emotions. Your amygdala processes the stimulus faster and before the neocortex, so you have an emotional response within milliseconds before your neocortex produces a rational one. To complicate things, while your amygdala is creating an emotional response, it also immediately restricts signals flowing to the neocortex, essentially shutting down your rational thought processes. This happens because you need to be able to act quickly if it were a real physical threat, but often times, what you’re perceiving as a threat in the workplace is not really a threat, but conflict. This prevents rational conversation and may elevate the conflict further. 

Once your brain perceives something as a threat, it triggers an increase of production of adrenaline and cortisol, which are stress hormones that makes your heart rate increase and, your breathing faster. As your body shunts neurotransmission away from your neocortex, your focus is no longer on how to tell the difference between something “good and bad,” making effective decisions, moderating your behaviour, anticipating future consequences, or properly expressing your ideas. This is why people often need some time to cool off if they’ve been in an argument; this happens without your consciousness but can be triggered by memories and your senses.

While this sounds biological and daunting, it’s still not impossible to manage your employees with these facts. Given the right company culture, cognitive performance training and good habits that develop over time, the neocortex can override the initial emotions encountered during conflict.  

The Brains of a Leader

To be an effective business leader is to know how to prevent conflict from being seen as a threat, rather an opportunity to reach a higher level of extraordinary performance. Not being able to recognize this complex system and manage it during the time of conflict can impair your ability to close an important business deal, and can unnecessarily damage an important relationship. Understanding this system works within you as well as your colleagues provides additional insights and management opportunities. While understanding your vulnerabilities to this normal neural pathway will improve communication and promote conflict resolution, which is vital for all leaders. 

References: 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28132555

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4014093/

If you would like to receive personal or team training in conflict resolution or learn more about performance training go to Cognitive Performance go to www.cognitive-performance.com.  

Optimizing Mental Efficiency and Physical Performance During Times of Stress

Posted in: April 26, 2019 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

Most of us have read numerous articles and studies documenting the damages of stress and burnout. Despite knowing this information, why do we continue to overwork ourselves beyond peak performance levels, only to suffer the damaging results of stress – poor physical and mental health, along with damage to our relationships? 

The answer lies in who we are as humans. It is in our humanity, our need to survive that pushes us to do more. Our brains automatically react to positive and negative stressors, often without our conscious awareness. When we are faced with a tough situation – a demanding boss expecting a project to be delivered on a short timeline, negotiating the waters of an employee conflict, facing the perils of starting a new business, our natural instinct is to work harder and manage competing priorities to manage the immediate stressors. This state is a useful short term tactic.  Our brains and our bodies can endure the neuroendocrine surge for a brief period. However, after a protracted period of stress our brain, and bodies, reach a tipping point of exhaustion.  

Pay attention to signals that indicate your performance tipping point.

Our individual past histories, physical, mental, and cultural conditioning give some of us the ability to endure stressful occurrences longer than others. Many of us have witnessed successful leaders who have mastered techniques to reorganize their thoughts quickly, and who remain calm and focused through negotiation or managing high-risk deals with finesse.  They are amazing highly productive leaders!

Whether one is a highly skilled leader or still learning foundational self-management skills, if left unchecked our natural responses to stress can get the best of us. Without self-awareness, overtime we can suffer symptoms of fatigue and burnout. Our physical health, mental performance, and relationships can suffer from the fallout of these prolonged periods of stress. 

I am not professing to avoid hard work. It is in this hard work that we find success. However, if you are driven to work for too long a period of time, burnout will begin.  When our life choices or conditions require us to enter a high-performance state, taking intermittent breaks will help rejuvenate the brain and allow one to return to the task with increased vigor, creativity, and determination.

How do you know when you hit the point where a break is beneficial? 

Three things are essential to achieve anything worthwhile: Hard work, persistence, and common sense.” – Thomas A. Edison

As stated by Thomas Edison – “common sense.” When feelings such as fear, anger, boredom begin to dominate your thoughts or manifest in physical symptoms that interrupt your productivity.  Set a timer and take a break every hour or notice when strong emotions begin to surface. The goal is to recognize these feelings early and often as they occur, then take a pleasurable break –take a short walk, stretch for a few moments, and breathe!  

Using Stress to Your Advantage

Stress is needed and can be a positive driver. We use stress to motivate us to perform, to kick start our brain’s neurological drive system. When we perceive a stressor, our system releases hormones including cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine. These hormones send neurological signals that increase blood pressure and our heart rate and kick start our drive.

Recall a recent time when you had to give a presentation in front of a group.  Most likely before you gave the speech you experienced a physical change in your breathing and perhaps had the twinge of butterflies. Your mind was focused on your speech and the audience (vs thinking about your next meeting of the day). Furthermore, to avoid feelings of nervousness and embarrassment, you did the “work” of preparation beforehand.  The thought of a stressful situation motivated you to reach your potential. 

We also use stress to keep us enthusiastic about reaching the finish line of our goals.  A good practice is to set multiple, short term,  achievable milestones.  As we strive for a goal that is in near sight we have some level of stress, but it is manageable.  Once we reach the milestone, we are rewarded. Upon success, we are flooded with natural feel-good hormones, neurochemicals, and neurotransmitters (i.e., endorphins, dopamine,  serotonin, and oxytocin.). 

Implementing habits such a mindful practice, taking small pleasure breaks through the day, and setting reward milestones will provide the needed edge on stress. Knowing when we are approaching a critical mass, i.e. “tipping point” in our work and life stressors is crucial to deploying corrective actions that will lead to optimizing our physical and mental health and overall cognitive performance.  

Relaxing techniques and habits such as a consistent mediation practice, deep breathing, or placing yourself into states of gratitude and positivity can help your brain to reorganize and reenter a state of calm and rejuvenation.  

What is NeuroCoaching?

Posted in: February 5, 2019 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson
Cognitive Performance

Hello there!

After an interview with Mari Frank on Fighting for Love (88.9FM and www.kuci.org), that aired today, November 5th, at 8:30am, I was excited to share what I spoke about with you all. You can listen to the entire interview HERE. I hope that this blog post helps give you insight into the amazing potential NeuroCoaching has for the lives of so many.

What is NeuroCoaching?

In such a new field, I find it is so important to explain what I do as a NeuroCoach to others. Don’t be shy if you’ve never heard of it before either! As a NeuroCoach, I utilize a set of protocols developed over the years founded on science-based principles. The foundation of NeuroCoaching is the 10 or so protocols that are used in every session with clients. The methods I use are all evidence-based and found through large amounts of research and practice. I am a certified NeuroCoach and have been practicing NeuroCoaching for two years now. I have found it to be extremely amazing and transformational for both myself and my clients. In my NeuroCoaching, I utilize traditional mindfulness techniques to connect with and guide my clients to their ultimate Cognitive Performance.

 

Working with Values

Values are one of the foundations we work with in our coaching sessions. We all have different values. Some common values I hear are love and truth. When I’m working with a client, I’ll ask them for a value that is close to their heart. From there, we want to work to associate that value with a feeling, a picture, and an insight. We work together to imprint that feeling, picture, and insight on every fiber of their being so that it is a safe place to come back to. That place becomes sacred and good, and it is a place to return to when someone may be working through trauma. I help coach clients to go to this blissful place and “overlay the trauma.” Your brain has a choice to give life to negative or blissful thoughts. Our goal is to get you to a life where you can go to that safe place during problems that arise or trauma that returns. When you think about the trauma or problem again later down the road, you will not feel as triggered as a result of this brain training.

 

The Breakthroughs

After only one or two sessions, my clients are finding amazing breakthroughs and transformations. During the sessions, I bring myself to a state of mindfulness alongside my clients. This creates a state of calm awareness for us both. Think about it. How often do you truly feel calm and mindful? Life is often so busy and fast-paced that we forget about or don’t know how to reach these mindful states.

What happens when you are in a state of calm awareness and mindfulness is that your brain isn’t racing. You’re not consumed by other thoughts, ideas, or stories as you might be on a normal day-to-day basis. Instead, you are able to get in touch with your truth. You’re able to get in touch with what is deep inside of you and might be buried a little bit. In my coaching sessions, I am able to ask you questions and guide you onto the path that you want to get to so you can overcome obstacles, achieve healing, and feel in touch with yourself.

 

When to Experience NeuroCoaching

My clients come in to my sessions for all different reasons. There is never a right or wrong time or reason to start. I help my clients receive coaching in both professional and personal development through NeuroCoaching. You may feel stuck, frustrated, anxious, and maybe just in seek of purpose and excitement in life. There are sometimes where anxious days turn into weeks and it can become a vicious cycle. Stop the cycle and train your brain to thrive.

There is never a bad time to begin, and I would be honored to help you on this road through NeuroCoaching. Let’s connect today to talk about my services and how we can work together.

Bernadette

New Year’s Resolution Blues

Posted in: January 21, 2019 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

With a new year comes new opportunities and excitement. You’re likely surrounded by others, like yourself, who have made their new year’s resolutions. Maybe you’ve read posts about goal setting on social media. (Most of us are surrounded by these conversations at this time of year.) Along with these resolutions, though, comes an immense amount of pressure to follow through with your verbal commitment.

However, what happens when you’re feeling unmotivated and uninspired, and no longer can see the big win of completion? What you do when you just don’t” feel like” doing the steps needed to reach your goals?

Sure, the adrenaline of your resolutions gets you off to a good start, but hitting the wall of temporary frustration, boredom, or apathy can take the wind out of your sails. First, realize it’s okay to feel low energy and uninspired and accept your current state of mind.  Then, rest into the thoughts that “there is a way out.”

We all know what it feels like to lose our motivation.

You might find that it happens when the results of your actions do not meet your expectations, or the results of your efforts are not occurring fast enough. Your actions can begin to feel too hard to achieve or pointless. Whatever it is, you may feel a bit off. You might find yourself feeling a little down or melancholy. Other symptoms that tell you you’ve hit a wall or are beginning to veer off track are difficulty focusing, getting distracted easily, or not being as excited about the things you feel like you should be excited about.

Get Unstuck

Believe it or not, the act of motivation is complex, and when you find your selves stuck, our low energy and lack of drive can occur for a variety of reasons.  What inspires you to act and motivates us to accomplish a set goal is derived from many internal and external integrated sources. Each thought and action has a predominate root driver.

Your basic drive can be stimulated by what naturally brings you internal rewards (Intrinsic motivation) and pleasure. Your human instinct of a need for belonging could also be at play. The degree that you believe you will have succeeded in achieving what you set out to accomplish is a self-efficacy function that has roots in our self-confidence and self-esteem. Achievement of goals and self-enhancement motives push you to reach beyond your expectations. Self-consistency motivation is what gives you confidence due to the consistent patterns and reliable nature of your habits.

As the new year progresses, I’ve noticed many of us begin to feel a little out of sorts. There are expectations we may have had for ourselves or those around us that went unmet, which leave us disenchanted. So take a brief look at why this may be happening and talk about ways to start moving past the funk and get back to performing our best!

Tip One: Begin journaling.

Sometimes it’s hard to really be in touch with our deeper feelings. So often we feel like it’s best to hide them and pretend that we’re alright, but it’s important to be able to process. Neuroscience studies confirm that writing things down or journaling is an easy way to feel privacy as you express your thoughts and the feelings you’re going through. This can be a first step in addressing these feelings and moving forward to get out of the funk.

Tip Two: Find a connection with others.

Even though it might feel easier when we find ourselves in a funk, isolation can only prolong these feelings. If left unchecked, this can foster deeper symptoms of depression. Make it a point to seek connection and time with others. Call a friend and make plans for a walk, spend time with your spouse outside of the home, or join an exercise class just to be around others. The feeling of connection can do a lot for our mindset and for our souls.

Tip Three: Get moving.

It’s always easier to not do anything on those days (or weeks) where we feel off. However, it’s important to get your body moving! As I’ve talked about in previous blog posts, exercise is so important for our overall well being. Something as simple as a brisk walk can improve your mood and get your heart pumping.

Tip Four: See something new and inspiring.

This will look different for everyone, but a new perspective can help shift your mind away from the funk. Go visit a local museum, see an uplifting movie you’ve been eyeing, or travel if possible. Seeing things in a new way can help motivate you to get back to living “loudly!”

Tip Five: Set new goals.

If you had a goal that you maybe didn’t meet or that something got in the way of, set a new goal! The thing about goals and resolutions is that they can constantly be changed depending on whatever factors are coming into play. It’s normal, and okay, to re-evaluate and set new goals for yourself to get back to feeling your best.

With the new year, don’t settle for not feeling your best because of a missed opportunity or unmet expectation. Find a new goal to chase after and let yourself feel set on fire with excitement again!

The Importance of Holiday Social Awareness

Posted in: December 19, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

You may agree that the preferred response to daily life events is to be mindfully aware of our interactions with ourselves and others and to use compassionate communication strategies along the way. However, with the holiday season now in full force, you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed and overbooked. You might find that any mindful neuro-leadership habits that you have in your toolbox are temporarily put on hold!  

For most of us, it’s hard to escape the pressures that surround us during the holiday season. We are pulled in so many directions. From finding the perfect gift to taking the time to rekindle the “once a year” relationship with distant relatives or completing work before offices close for the holidays, the to-do lists seem to keep on growing, and time seems to slip by at an alarming pace.

The number of social opportunities to connect and build friendships that are on the calendar during this time of year may appear to be growing also. Whether it is a holiday party at work, a family gathering, a friend’s gift exchange party, or just going out to do last minute shopping amongst crowds, social interaction is magnified, anxiety levels can increase, and our mindful stress reduction habits are all but forgotten.

So how can you improve your social AWARENESS while lowering the impact of negative stressors?

First, let’s define “awareness” in “social awareness.” Awareness is the knowledge and understanding that something is occurring. This awareness can be perceived both from an inward and outward vantage point. Inward “self-awareness” includes your emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations, while outward awareness includes your awareness for others, your interactions, and your environment.

Social awareness is categorized as outward awareness. To be socially aware is to be mindful of your words and how what you say will be received by others. It also means being mindful of your outward actions and intentions. It is having the knowledge and understanding that something is occurring in your interactions with others. To have mindful social awareness, it is essential to pay attention to your internal self (self-awareness) as well. Be kind to yourself and recognize that you may have a barrage of thoughts amidst the chaos of this season. When you practice small acts of self-compassion, you will naturally become calmer or at least understand the root of your stress so that you can take further steps to diminish any anxiety and worry that you may have.

Mindful Social Awareness

In this post, I will be sharing three Cognitive Performance coaching tips to help keep you aware of yourself during each and every social situation you have on your calendar this season. With some intentional social awareness, a plan, and practicing how to adapt positively to negative stressors, you will be on your way to enjoy the holiday season with ease and confidence.  

Cognitive Performance Tip #1: Be More Engaged.

This may sound obvious, but try to relax and enjoy the presence of others. Often times we can find ourselves not necessarily looking forward to an event due to hectic schedules, or when we do arrive, we are preoccupied with our thoughts.

Before you attend a stressful event, take 3-5 deep cleansing breaths. As you do this, think about one or two people in your life that you care deeply about. Savor any deep feelings of love or admiration that arise. Now, in your minds-eye, select who you are going to try and make an extra effort to connect with at the event. Visualize how you will be intentional in your conversation. See how you interact with them. Envision that while in a conversation, you are asking them questions as well and not focusing solely on yourself. See them respond with warm, engaging gestures and comments.  When it is time to attend the event, recall this experience and engage with others in confidence.

Cognitive Performance Tip #2: Monitor Your Alcohol Intake.

It is a known fact that alcohol impairs brain functioning and changes how we interact with others. Have you ever been at a holiday work party and experienced someone drinking just a little too much? It is in your best interest to avoid emulating that person. If you choose to drink, space them out and have a glass of water in between.

If you are worried you may over-drink, ask a friend or date to please remind you if they see you partaking in too many. Many social situations will have other options such as water, soft drinks, or tea. Keep yourself hydrated with plenty of water, and be sure that if you are drinking alcohol, you are also keeping your stomach lined with food to absorb it. The best way to be entirely in control and aware of your actions and words is, of course, to not drink.  However, one or two glasses of wine or champagne, or 1-2 oz liquor, is the generally prescribed moderate amount for those who choose to have festive alcoholic beverages. Download my eBook, Become Extraordinary, to learn the best practices when it comes to this subject and to learn how to live an enriched life. 

Cognitive Performance Tip #3: Practice Gratitude.

When a social situation feels frustrating or is overwhelming, try to bring yourself back to a place of gratitude. It might seem hard in the moment, but being aware of what you are thinking is integral to keeping yourself positive and composed. If someone says something that rubs you the wrong way, take a deep breath and in your mind express gratitude for the challenge they are teaching you (although, don’t say this out loud!). If you find someone sitting alone, express gratitude by being kind to them and engaging in conversation. Practice gratitude to yourself by taking care of yourself amidst your busy schedule. Thank yourself for all you are doing.

You can also practice gratitude by thanking each host in a small way. Bringing flowers or a nice bottle of wine is the perfect way to extend appreciation to another. Not only will you be a good guest, but you will be aware of your presence in another person’s home or social event.

Gratitude eBook

Gratitude eBook by Bernadette Wilson

If you want to learn more about gratitude and practicing it in your daily life, I invite you to download my latest FREE eBook now! Just subscribe to my mailing list to get access to not only this eBook but three others as well. You can join HERE.

I hope you all have a fantastic holiday season full of gratitude, positive connections, and awareness of each moment.

Bernadette

Pushing Past Resistance

Posted in: November 12, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

I don’t know if anyone else has been feeling this lately, but at this time of year, I find myself feeling somewhat resistant and less motivated to complete my to-do list. With the end of the year on the horizon, it’s easy for our thoughts to wander and think about all that we’ve yet to do and achieve by the end of the year. And to top it off, as the busy holiday season approaches, we are even more susceptible to hitting a wall. Without awareness, this feeling of being overwhelmed can impact our attitude and our productivity.  

Because most of these obstacles are created from negative thinking, we need to bring awareness to what we are saying to ourselves. The root of this resistance could be mental (i.e. thinking, imagery), physical (i.e. lack of activity), value-based (i.e. compassion, truth ), or emotional (i.e. memories or relationships). Here are some of my tips to move forward and push past resistance when you’re tired of hitting those walls.

Positive Thinking & Visualization

Research confirms that positive imagery training has reported decreased negative affect and treat anxiety, and increased optimism.  Often times, when we’re met with resistance, thinking positively can be the last thing we want to do. However, it is so important to focus on positive thoughts and use daydreaming to visualize positive outcomes. For example, if you procrastinate and can’t get started on the book you want to write, visualize seeing your book listed as a best seller on Amazon books! Imagine all of the good feelings that achieving this goal would mean to you. Visualize the positive impact it would have on your life, how it would make you feel, and the happiness that would come along with the accomplishment of that goal. Set your sights on big things! Believe in the power of positivity.

Physical Well-Being

Studies have shown that the change in season influences your body’s melatonin and serotonin levels. Both of these substances play a role in our sleep and in our mood. Most of us adjust to the seasonal changes with ease. However, about 5% of the population suffers from a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that occurs more frequently in the fall and winter months. As sunlight decreases during the short, dark days of winter, many individuals struggle with seasonal affective disorder or SAD. As the acronym so aptly illustrates, those afflicted experience feelings of sadness and loss of energy. Some symptoms of SAD are ongoing feelings of hopelessness, guilt, and loss of interest in activities. This can take a toll on you as you work towards those end of year goals, or even planning forward for the coming months.

Some forms of prevention that have been found to be effective include increasing the amount of light at home, taking time to meditate, and exercising more frequently. If you work in an office, I also recommend taking your breaks outside. Try taking a quick 10-minute walk. Take in the brisk air, feel the ground beneath your feet, and enjoy the sensations of moving your body. After your walk, reflect on how you are feeling. Can you feel an improved mood and an increased sense of mindfulness?

Values

When you are feeling resistance and lack of motivation, ask yourself if your values are in alignment with your attempted actions.  For example, I recently had to give a speech. Until I reframed the topic of the speech, I was stuck and uninspired. What I was trying to do wasn’t in line with my values and what I wanted out of the speech. Once I reframed my message to more accurately reflect my core values of compassion and helping others, the words flowed! To try and move past this resistance, make a list of your core values. Then, see how you can apply them to the project at hand. Our brain loves when we are in alignment with our true values and passion. Watch how your mind more easily moves toward activities in line with your values and how naturally the creativity begins to flow.


Emotional

One factor that may be holding you back is fear. Fear of the unknown is an extremely common feeling to have. Regardless of your reasoning behind the fear, our emotions can get in the way of our productivity. It’s easy to allow our emotions to take over and act as a blocking agent. Just like when you feel like you’re emotionally hitting a wall. It’s important to recognize walls you hit not as impossible, but as another threshold to move through and get over. Stay in tune with yourself and your emotions. Recognize and write down the things you can change and the things you cannot change. Encourage yourself to validate your emotions and come up with a game plan to move forward in love and excitement.

Did this post help you recognize areas of resistance in your life? I would love to hear how the ideas and challenges presented to you here have helped you overcome resistance and push forward towards a productive and positive time. You’ve got this!

If you want to talk more about how NeuroCoaching can help you push past resistance further, let’s connect today. Together we can work to break down the walls holding you back so you can live your best life.

I also want to take this opportunity to invite you to join in on my five-day gratitude challenge starting NEXT Monday, November 19th. Together, for five days, we’ll talk through feeling gratitude for ourselves and our surroundings. I can’t wait to guide you through this challenge! To sign up for free, visit the campaign sign up page here: http://eepurl.com/dMQULU

 

 

References:

Depress Res Treat. 2015; 2015: 178564.
Published online 2015 Nov 25. doi:  [10.1155/2015/178564], PMCID: PMC4673349, PMID: 26688752, Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview of Assessment and Treatment Approaches

Psychiatry Res. 2015 Nov 30; 230(1): 36–43.
doi:  [10.1016/j.psychres.2015.07.059]
PMCID: PMC4593863 PMID: 26235478 Imagining a brighter future: The effect of positive imagery training on mood, prospective mental imagery and emotional bias in older adults

First Annual NeuroCoaching Conference

Posted in: October 29, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson
Cognitive Performance

I had the honor and privilege of organizing the First Annual NeuroCoaching Conference in California.

It was a weekend full of sharing and exploring the new methods of NeuroCoaching. Attendees were able to gain wisdom and the ability to learn about business collaboration with the group. As coaches, I believe it is most important to first learn how to coach ourselves. I recently talked about this on-air at KUCI.org with Mari Frank on her show Fighting for Love, Monday, October 29, 2018.

 Listen to Interview

I worked alongside Mark Robert Waldman, a top-selling author, to plan this two-day retreat-type seminar. The purpose was so NeuroCoaches could practice together, learn better techniques, and connect with their peers. Mark is a friend of mine and colleague who recently released his book, NeuroWisdom: The New Brain Science of Money, Happiness, and Success, alongside Chris Manning, Ph.D. Both Mark and Chris were able to attend the conference in addition to forty people from around the world. The conference was sold out and included learning experiences for NeuroCoaches of all levels.

Reach of Conference

Attendees came from many nations throughout the globe. While the conference was held in Malibu, California, eight different countries were represented. With attendees from Australia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Mexico, we were so proud to see the reach that NeuroCoaching is making all over the world. The conference was held to bring together certified NeuroCoaches, those in training, and those interested in becoming a certified NeuroCoach. Since this is a relatively new field of coaching, it is more important than ever to connect with peers.

Mindfulness and Introspective Work

We focused on the importance of skills within NeuroCoaching and practiced introspective coaching strategies. We helped each coach learn more about themselves and how they could be more coachable through scenarios in their own personal lives. Learning how to coach yourself before you coach others, as mentioned earlier, is essential to understanding the importance of NeuroCoaching. The focus on mindfulness throughout the weekend allowed attendees to tap into their own authenticity. The techniques learned could be used in personal life with attendees’ family, friends, and partners, as well as in their professional life. We were happy to equip attendees with this education and experience to confidently send them out into their own lives and careers.

Importance of Research

Throughout the two days, attendees were able to learn from one another and from the experts. I led a session on Business Coaching and was able to work one-on-one with some attendees present to share what I have learned in my career as a NeuroCoach. It is important that I am continuously staying up to date with the newest science-based NeuroCoaching techniques to powerfully guide my clients. In such a new field, I feel that it is especially essential that I do this.  I enjoyed sharing my knowledge and experience with coaches on all levels and from all different backgrounds. I truly believe this is the way of the future, and it is exciting to see the community of NeuroCoaches continue to grow around the world. It is an exciting movement to be a part of!

Strategies Covered

During the conference, attendees engaged in new educational and coaching skills that are grounded in brain-based, evidence-based, and mindfulness-based communication strategies. We covered strategies such as using your intuition, exploring ways to solve problems quickly, and improving physical pain. The conference also consisted of an insight meditation called “Streaming,” which allowed attendees to fall into deeper layers of self-discovery. The panel discussions held throughout the weekend allowed those who were in the process of becoming certified or who were considering it to be fully immersed in what the field consists of. It was a rewarding weekend for the organizers and attendees, and I look forward to doing it again next year!

If you found my page because of the conference, welcome! I’m so glad to have you here. Please be sure to sign up for my newsletter list here, as well as “like” me on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter and on Instagram to stay in the know about what is going on in the wonderful world of NeuroCoaching!

If you missed the conference this year, stay tuned as next year’s conference is in the works. Next year, our conference is open to anyone that is interested in NeuroCoaching. We’re excited to spread the reach of this field even farther across the country and world.

Eat for Brain Health!

Posted in: October 22, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

Learn tips to eat well for peak Cognitive Performance and overall well-being

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you know how important eating well and nourishing your body is for your Cognitive Performance and overall well-being. To support you to be the best throughout the day, here are some of my favorite personal recommendations for a healthy diet and a healthy life.

Hydrate for Health!

Drink up….but focus on the good stuff! Water should be plentiful, with a gallon a day being the minimum amount a full-grown adult should be drinking. Of course, there are many factors that come into play such as body weight, energy output, health, etc. Keep yourself hydrated and avoid the dehydration blues (it’s true…when you’re dehydrated, it can make you grumpy) Water is key to superior cognitive performance. 

To Drink or Not to Drink Alcohol

When it comes to other kinds of drinks, take alcohol, for example, it’s best to drink in moderation. I believe it’s best to minimize or avoid alcohol and sugary drinks altogether if you are striving for peak performance, emotional well-being, and high mental agility. Besides making you feel bad the next day, alcohol can cause you to gain weight in the belly due to its Acetaldehyde metabolizing into acetate and then converting into fatty acids. However, many individuals make up the 56% (source: National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) who have consumed alcohol in the last month. If you are looking for a “drink” that is best for you, try red wine. In studies dated back to 2010, it has been reported that red wine has more antioxidants than other alcoholic drinks. You may be confronted with social situations that entice you to drink alcohol which can be challenging, but for those with the desire to do so, it is not impossible to change your drinking habits. [Brainfit Tip:] Try ordering sparkling water in a wine glass – a pleasurable brain fit experience without the side effects!

Importance of Vitamins and Minerals

Be sure that you’re giving your body a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential to a healthy life. The easiest way to get all your vitamins is through a multivitamin that is taken daily. I recommend thiamine, folate, other water-soluble B vitamins, and vitamin C as the key supplements to your diet. You should also make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D to help with your cognitive performance and energy levels, especially if you live in a place where some seasons keep the sun away.

Calcium is important to keep your bones healthy, so make sure that you are getting calcium in whichever way you like best – dairy, almonds, kale, navy beans, and cheese are all good sources. However, remember the most important factor for ensuring that the dietary calcium becomes made into bone, is that you exercise. The exercise does not need to be intense, walking every day will help ensure you are encouraging the calcium to go to your bones.  

There are many multivitamins on the market and selecting a brand can be overwhelming. A rule of thumb is to make sure that they do contain the above mentioned Thiamine, folate, other B vitamins and vitamin C.  Also, be sure the vitamins don’t contain any added preservatives or unnecessary ingredients.  If you are seeking vitamin optimization,  ask your Doctor about a full panel blood test. This type of test can determine where you may be lacking in vitamins and minerals.

Eating WHOLE Foods

Eating food in its natural form is the best way to ensure that what you’re eating feeds your body in the best way possible. Some age-old truths remain the same – Fruits and vegetables are necessary to any diet. Vegetables should make up a large portion of your meals, and leafy greens are great to fill you up and provides you with the essential fiber to aid in digestion. When selecting fruits, avoid processed versions, and anything with added sugar or syrup. The fresh fruits and vegetables you purchase should be pesticide free. If it not possible to buy organic, invest in a fruit and vegetable wash that easily removes pesticides, waxes, and chemicals.

You can complement both of these with some whole grains. Try to avoid excess salt in your foods and stick with fresh and unprocessed foods as much as you can. When it comes to carbohydrates, stick to complex and natural whole grains. These come naturally with fruits and vegetables, too, which is great! Avoid sugary bread desserts like cookies, pies, and donuts if you’re looking to lose weight and take away some brain fog that comes with a sugar crash.

Protein as Building Blocks

Protein should be your primary source of calories. When it comes to types of protein, I recommend fish, lean meats, and nuts. Wild caught fish is a superior source of protein. With over 1,000 centenarians, Okinawa has earned a reputation as a “land of the immortals.”  Their diet, which is rich in fresh fish, is one of the key reasons claimed for their life longevity. I would also recommend avoiding farm-raised salmon and shrimp. Farm-raised shrimp and fish can contain toxins that are bad for your body. Chicken is another great option if you are eating meat. If not, adding in nuts, whole grains, beans, and legumes are perfect ways to get protein in your diet.

Good Fats vs. Bad Fats

It’s important to not give fats bad of a name. Essential for brain and body fitness, fats are necessary and keep you satiated when they are “good” fats. A simple way to include “good” fats in your diet is to add in some olive oil to your cooking. Be sure to bring more Omega 3 fatty acids into your diet via salmon and other fish. Avocados and almonds make great snacks and/or additions to your meals. Don’t shy away from adding good fats to your diet! To learn more download my book “Become Extraordinary!” here

My Challenge To You

Try to brainstorm some healthy meal and snack ideas that contain whole foods, good protein, and healthy fats. Having a list on hand of healthy foods can help if you’re in a time crunch or if you are eating out and looking for good ideas. Invest in a water bottle that you can carry with you everywhere you go to ensure that you’re sipping away throughout the day.  [Brainfit tip:] Try replacing one “poor” food choice with a “healthy” selection for 10 days. Notice any changes and write down your observations.

In health,

Bernadette

The Importance of a Healthy Nutritional Intake

Posted in: October 15, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

The Importance of a Healthy Nutritional Intake for Brain Health

Taking care of your mind and body isn’t always easy. However, it is necessary to maximize our cognitive performance.  And, it is essential that we pay attention to what we put into our body. Today, I want to focus on the importance of a healthy nutritional intake for your brain health and physical well-being. Feed your body in a way that helps it rather than harming it. Not all foods are created equal!

If you haven’t yet, be sure to sign up for my e-mail list here so that you can get a free download of my full e-book, Become Extraordinary.

How to Select Food

To start, I want to go over a basic helpful tip to remind you what to look for when selecting your food. Whether you buy your food on Amazon, through a grocery shopping app, or while walking down the grocery store aisle, keep these tips in mind. If you must buy packaged food, you should always look into the ingredients. There are a million different products out there packaged to appear healthy that claim to be “good” for you. So, how do you know what isn’t good for you?

It’s All in the Labels

It’s all in the labels. The label on the back of the package should be read to find out what is inside. The ingredients list goes from top to bottom. For example, juice would have water as it’s the first ingredient because it is predominantly made of water. If the first ingredient is sugar or another questionable ingredient, that’s most likely a choice you should skip. Try to pick those foods lowest in “sugar grams” per serving and with low oil content.  A few years ago, in 2015, Dr. Esselstyn from UC Davis noted that “monounsaturated and saturated fats contained in oils are harmful to the endothelium, the innermost lining of the artery, and that injury is the gateway to vascular disease. It doesn’t matter whether it’s olive oil, corn oil, coconut oil, canola oil, or any other kind. Avoid ALL oil.”

Look for the ”No GMO” and organic labels on your foods! Make sure that your food is coming from a reliable source if its food that is grown or farmed, such as vegetables, meats, and fruits. You should be able to trust that food that is labeled to be free from pesticides, hormones, and preservatives really are. It’s also a good idea to stay away from processed food. You’ll mostly find these in the middle aisles of the grocery store.

Speaking of Grocery Store Aisles…

Think about it. Usually, the produce, meats, and other fresh foods are along the outer rim of the store. The inside aisles are usually the more processed foods, such as chips, candies, and cookies. Of course, moderation is key. I never want someone to deprive himself or herself of something, because that can just make it more tempting to partake in. Think of the 80/20 rule in eating healthy and fresh, and aim to eat whole foods as the majority of your diet.

How Often to Eat

This question can’t be answered through a broad blog post and will depend heavily on the individual person. I’ve read and researched this topic and still have not been able to find a conclusive or blanket answer for the entire population. The debate, I find, is often between eating many small meals throughout the day versus eating three large meals. Research has implied that going about eating smaller, more frequent meals can increase metabolism and keep insulin levels better, amongst other positives. However, other research has shown that making this switch in meal amounts doesn’t actually boost fat loss as much as some would think. I personally believe, through research, that the smaller meals are the more optimal choice because it can also help with indigestion after meals.

Calories In Versus Calories Out

What it all boils down to is calories taken in versus calories put out. Adding in more exercise and keeping your body moving increases the number of calories put out, which in turn can lead to feeling better. If you’re not able to engage in physical activity, for whatever reason, you’ll need to learn how to lessen your calorie intake so that it can balance out more. I’d recommend smaller servings and being in tune with your body when it tells you that it is full. It’s also important to make sure that your meals are balanced and contain a variety of whole foods and not a lot of processed food. Another important thing to remember is that not all calories are created equal. Different molecules go through biochemical metabolism on different pathways. As an example, carbohydrates (often called “carbs”) are converted into fat if consumed in excess. They’re not all equal, and they don’t all affect your body in the same way.

Next week, I’ll dive into more detailed recommendations for your best health and nutritional intake. This week, focus on eating as many whole foods as possible. Focus on feeding your body the “good stuff.”

Take care of your body so it can take care of you.

Bernadette

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