Importance of Aerobic Exercise

Posted in: October 8, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

The Importance of Aerobic Exercise

When it comes to increasing our cognitive performance, there are many things we can do. The past few weeks, I’ve shared with you the importance of sleep. This week, I want to focus on the importance of Aerobic Exercise. 

Want the full e-book? I’d love to have you sign up with your email on my website so that you can download the complete e-book for free. Once you do, you can follow along each week as we further break down each section. You can sign up HERE

Aerobic exercise allows you to improve memory, brain processing, and creativity.

While exercise may not be at the top of everyone’s list, it’s an important activity that benefits you in many more ways than just physical.

Improved Memory

Aerobic exercise is the kind of exercise that leads to your heart pumping and sweat dripping. This is the kind of exercise that gets you moving, challenges you, and helps you work away any stress you’re carrying with you. While this exercise is important for maintaining a healthy weight and improving your physique if that’s your desire, often times we aren’t aware of how beneficial it is for our brain, too. Regular aerobic exercise has been shown to be able to increase the size of the hippocampus, which is what’s involved in verbal memory and learning. In people who exercise regularly, it has also been shown that their prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex has a higher volume. These areas play a large role in thinking and memory. From this, we can see how regular aerobic exercise can help improve memory and thus increase our cognitive performance.

Improved Processing Speed

A recent study found that exercise was in fact linked to more proactive brain activation signals, meaning it increased the processing speed and led to both lower stress and a higher IQ. Sounds like a win-win to me! I want to share with my clients and readers that exercise truly can benefit you in so many ways. It has the ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors. Growth factors are chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells. Keeping your brain healthy can give you better ability to process thoughts, think creatively, and continue to successfully create new brain cells regularly.

Improved Mood and Sleep

In the past three blog posts, I dove deep into the importance of sleep. Let’s not forget what a great sweat-session can do to improve your quality of sleep. Moving your body through aerobic exercise can help boost your mood and reduce any stress and anxiety you may have going on at the time. Exercising your body can help your brain and body to relax, thus leading to better quality of sleep. Try keeping track of your quality of sleep on days you exercise and on days you don’t, and see if it makes any improvements!

Ideas for Aerobic Exercise

My encouragement to you would be to find something that you enjoy doing. Finding exercises that you actually want to do will help you be more likely to do it on a regular basis. If you like biking, cycling can be a great way to get out and get some fresh air. Are you a runner? You can jog or run alone, with friends, with your significant other, or with your dog. If you’re looking for a community to work out with, joining a gym or fitness boutique will allow you to work out in a class format with others around you. Who knows, you may even meet new friends! If you know that you will need more accountability, and your budget allows, look into hiring a personal trainer to get exactly what you need out of the time you have to workout. Trainers can customize workouts to help you achieve your personal goals and will lead you along the way.

How Often to Exercise

Making time for exercise doesn’t have to be impossible. Every little bit counts, and it’s easy to start with baby steps and grow from there. Some people may exercise every day, and some once a week. It’s important to start where you are and build up from there. Start with 30 minutes a day, and then grow from there. This can be 30 minutes spent on a brisk walk with the dog, an hour of exercise class, or an hour on the bike. Getting at least 30 minutes a day in can help you keep your brain fresh and moving, and thus get those creative juices flowing!

My Challenge to You

This week, I challenge you to set aside 30 minutes per day (at least) to get moving. Write down what you did, how you felt during it, and how you felt after. Keep track of hunger, brain fog, and sleep quality. Sure enough, I bet you’ll find with regular aerobic exercise you’ll begin to beat the brain fog, improve your quality of life, and achieve the cognitive performance you’re working for!

Bernadette

Initiating Sleep Amidst Intrusive Thoughts and Anxieties

Posted in: October 1, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

As we all know, a day spent recovering from a bad night of sleep is a day spent yawning and in a fog. In the last two weeks, I’ve covered the topic of sleep in depth. If you haven’t yet, you can find my blog on the importance of sleep here, and my blog on my twelve rituals for getting a good night sleep here! Life can come at you fast, and I’ve had my fair share of nights laying awake trying to sleep. There are also days where your body wants nothing but sleep but your mind craves the opposite. Looming, intrusive thoughts and anxieties can fill our head and take away from the relaxing and peaceful zone that a good night of sleep allows us to enter into.

I find my clients often feel robbed of a restful night because of intrusive thoughts and anxieties that they have on their mind. While this is something we can work through one-on-one through my coaching, I’ve put together a list of some of my tried and true tips for initiating sleep when anxiety and intrusive thoughts are keeping you awake. I hope that this list of tips can help lessen the amount of nights you lay awake. With a restful night of sleep, you will be closer to achieving the Cognitive Performance that we are always working towards.

Tip One: Making a List

This might sound counterintuitive at first, but try it out. Keep a journal by your bed for these intrusive thoughts that are keeping you from sleep. Writing them down will get them out of your head and onto paper. By listing them out, your mind can relax knowing that you will address them the next day when you are refreshed and rested. I find this helps especially if your thoughts are things that you’re afraid you’ll forget to take care of. Having this list will bring those thoughts out of your head so that you can get to dreaming instead.

Tip Two: Taking a Bath or Shower

I covered this under my rituals in my previous blog post, but I’ve found it helpful to get up and take a warm bath or shower. This can help “reset” your mind to night mode, especially when it becomes part of a ritual. You can also take this opportunity to utilize aromatherapy during your bath or shower to relax even more. While this isn’t part of easing intrusive thoughts, crawling into bed cozy and clean can help you feel refreshed and ready to dive in to your night of rest.

Tip Three: Create a Gratitude List

Try and focus your mind on the positives that are surrounding you. Write down a list of 3-4 things that you are grateful for in that moment. Is it the warm, soft sheets around you? What about your partner laying next to you? Maybe it’s the yoga you were able to do earlier. Whatever it is, take time to reflect on these items that bring about joy and a feeling of being grateful, especially in the midst of anxieties.

Tip Four: Review your Affirmation List.

Not sure what this list is? That’s okay! In my previous e-book, I discussed the power of creating an affirmation list for times of uncertainty. You can find that book here (will link).

Tip Five: Mindful Meditation

Try practicing mindful meditation. This means saying phrases such as, “I release this day with love and gratitude.” Say this statement 5-10 times slowly. Be sure to breathe in and out deeply each time. Allowing your mind to release whatever worries or thoughts are on your mind can help you become present in the moment and set your sights and thoughts on the relaxation and rest ahead.

Tip Six: Create an Environment Conducive to Sleep

As you’ll read in last week’s list of rituals, your environment for sleep should be dark and pleasant. Consider getting a noise machine to lull you to sleep to the sound of the ocean waves if you’re surrounded by excess sounds outside like cars or your neighbors. Maybe take a look into relaxing scents like lavender or chamomile to help you relax even further. A good night sleep is something worth the investment and worth making changes for.

Tip Seven: Come up with a Plan B

When you’ve tried all of these steps, or any others you use, but they’re just not working, it’s time for plan B. Plan B should come into play when you’ve exhausted all efforts and it’s time to get out of bed and try something else to refocus your mind. I recommend a positive, light book. Try to avoid electronics during this time.

Tip Eight: Come up with a Plan C

When both plan A and B have failed, initiate plan C. This time, lay back and try counting backwards in your mind. Start somewhere high, like 150, and if you make an error in your counting, start from the beginning. This helps give you something to truly focus your mind on. Your mind will not be able to effectively focus on both these thoughts as well as the intrusive ones causing the trouble.

Tip Nine: Try to Avoid Sleep Medication

As helpful as they can be at times, they are often temporary fixes. The use of drugs to help you sleep, such as benzodiazepines and even alcohol and marijuana, is not recommended. For the odd times where you have trouble with sleep due to exterior things, such as jet lag, try melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone that does not necessarily work well for general insomnia, but rather to reset the body’s internal clock to tell it it’s time for bed. This should be taken an hour before bedtime if it is necessary, as if it’s taken any closer to bedtime, it can cause grogginess upon wake-up.

Tip Ten: Yawning is Not Your Friend

When you’re trying to fall asleep, stay away from yawning! I find that often times it is actually more harmful than good. Recent research shows that yawning is a specific mechanism that is used by your brain to actually keep you ALERT when you are drowsy. In fact, this is the opposite of what we want to do. Yawning is actually used by many NeuroCoaches as a tool to help clients enter a calm state of mindfulness. I share more about the timing of yawning on this chapter in my e-book. I recommend Mindful deep breathing instead.

My Challenge To You

As always, it’s my goal to help readers and clients achieve top cognitive performance. My challenge for you this week is to really try out a few of these tips. I would recommend starting with the listing of your thoughts and seeing what is truly keeping you awake at night. This can help you realize the things that you’re thinking about. If you are a client of mine, we can work through these lists to help get your mind focused on sleep at night and less on the things keeping you awake.

12 Rituals to Better Sleep

Posted in: September 24, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

Do you have difficulty sleeping?

If you’re someone who struggles with falling asleep or staying asleep, you might be wondering how you’ll ever get some rest and how to sleep throughout the night.

There are so many things that can prevent us from really getting a good night of sleep, and over the years I’ve looked at the research and used personal experience to come up with a list of rituals to implement to help improve your sleep. Last week, I covered the importance of sleep in our cognitive performance and daily lives. This week, I’m sharing my twelve rituals that can help you get a better night of sleep, as lack of sleep is detrimental to your physical and mental well-being. While everyone’s experience will be different, these rituals have held true across the board.

Cognitive Performance’s 12 Rituals for a Restful Night’s Sleep

 

Ritual One: Going to Bed Early and Rising Early

Most highly successful people go to be at the same time every evening and wake up early. It may seem obvious, but make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to actually sleep! If you are not accustomed to going to bed early, at first you should start by going to bed when you are sleepy. Regardless of the time you go to sleep, set your alarm to get up early (think 5:30 AM-6: 30 AM). You may have to tough it out for a few days without a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep until your body clock resets.  Within a few days, you will be going to bed earlier and waking up earlier naturally. Stick to going to bed right around the same time every night to get your body into the routine. Make sure that you are getting the right amount of sleep for YOU, not based on what anyone else chooses.

Ritual Two: Enlisting Support

Talk with your significant other, or even your roommate. Whoever is around you at bedtime can serve as your greatest supporter in your journey to better sleep! If your significant other is disrupting your sleep by going to bed a lot later, it can hurt not only your sleep quality but also your closeness. Doing something like this together can help build camaraderie and leave you both waking up feeling refreshed!

Ritual Three: Electronics Shut Off

Each night, turn off the electronics around you at least 30 minutes before bedtime, but ideally an hour before. This includes computers, TVs, and cell phones. If you have to have a cell phone on, place it far enough away from your bed that you have to get out of bed and walk to answer it if it rings, or turn off its alarm in the morning.

Ritual Four: Creating a Pre-Bedtime Ritual…and Sticking to it!

Create a ritual to do each night before going to bed. Need ideas? Think of things like taking a bath or shower, organizing your lunch for the next day, meditation, yoga (I find stretching helps me to be less restless once I hit the pillow), or reading a book. Keep this time a safe zone away from intense conversation or contemplation. This ritual should be started around 30-60 minutes before your head hits the pillow.

Ritual Five: Keeping the Bedroom’s Purpose

Your bedroom shouldn’t also serve as your work office. Save the bedroom (and the bed) for the necessary things like sleep and sex. The bedroom and bed should be a retreat of relaxation and rest, not of stress.

Ritual Six: Respecting the Schedule You’ve Made

Find the time that works for you to get up and go to bed each day. This should ideally be done together with your significant other if applicable. Try to keep this the same each day, even over the weekend! However, make sure you allow for flexibility should the occasion arise, such as an especially late night event that requires a later wake up for your body to feel restored.

Ritual Seven: Food and Alcohol Before Bed…yay or nay?

I say “Nay!” Not only can the food or alcohol sit in your stomach uncomfortably, but eating large meals or drinking lots of alcohol before bed can actually lead to acid reflux and heartburn. Waking up to this is not fun for anyone. However, a small snack before bed may be needed by those with concerns like diabetes. You may want to ask your doctor to be tested if you wake up throughout the night. I recommend an apple and almond butter if you do need a snack to keep your blood sugar stable and to help you to stay asleep throughout the night.  Try to also avoid caffeine and excessive sugars for 4-6 hours before bed.

Ritual Eight: Getting rid of Distracting Noise

If you live on a busy road or find yourself with a particularly noisy neighbor, investing in a good white sound machine or fan can be life-changing. Block out that noise that will keep you awake otherwise!

Ritual Nine: What to do When it’s Cold Outside

Baby, it’s cold outside! However, that means a more cuddly night of sleep. I love and suggest lowering the thermostat to a comfortable temperature to allow warmth from the blankets rather than relying on a hot furnace through the night. Adding a humidifier can also support restful sleep if the air in your room is too dry.

Ritual Ten: What to do When it’s Hot Outside

Nobody likes to sweat while they sleep. In the summer, I suggest keeping the room cool enough so that is comfortable and allows for a good night of sleep, sweat-free! Help your busy brain to unfocus on the discomfort of heat by stimulating your tactile and olfactory sensations with a cool shower before bed and then wearing light night clothes. You may want to then add the light aromatherapy scent such as lavender or sage. Your thoughts will wander to the positive sensations and help you to experience restful bliss.

Ritual Eleven: Turn Off That Light!

Invest in blackout curtains, turn off all the lights, and turn electronics face down. Eliminating all light sources actually helps cue your brain to release melatonin, which is the natural sleep hormone signaling your body it’s time for rest. Keeping lights on will only confuse your brain and keep you awake longer.

Ritual Twelve: Establish a “Wake Up” Routine Using Natural Cues

Loud sounds are never a soothing way to wake up! I recommend using a light-based alarm clock that increases light intensity as it gets closer to your wake up time. This helps your body wake up naturally rather than being rudely interrupted by the beeping of an alarm.

My Challenge to YOU:

If you read my blog last week, then you might have seen my challenge about keeping a sleep journal. I’d love for you to continue that this week, implementing one or more of these rituals at a time and then thinking about your experience. Some may be easier than others, but after a while, they will become just another part of your routine.

The Importance of Sleep

Posted in: September 17, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

Last week we talked about tracking progress and making plans (which you can find here). For the next few weeks we’re going to focus on the importance of sleep, exercise, and a restorative diet for your overall wellness. These three components are all necessary to help speed up your ability and focus to execute your plan to becoming extraordinary!

If you haven’t yet, make sure you download my e-book on Becoming Extraordinary. You can download it by entering your email here. You’ll find blog posts here on my website to further unpack each section and give it to you in bite-sized pieces. I look forward to sharing this journey with you!

Today I want to share with you an overview of the importance of sleep for cognitive performance and how insufficient sleep can lead to far more than just feeling groggy. As a NeuroCoach, I find myself talking my clients through a range of things that might be affecting their cognitive performance. One of these things, while often underestimated, is sleep! We all need it. While the amount of hours per night that different people need will vary, I can’t say enough about how important sleep is in every function of life. Settle in, and let’s unpack this a bit!

What is Cognitive Performance?

Cognitive Performance is the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. To achieve our best performance, we should strive to have peak cognitive performance. Included in cognitive performance is the brain’s ability to process information of knowledge, memory and working memory, judgement and evaluation, reasoning and “computation,” problem solving and decision making, comprehension, and comprehension and production of language. So, where does sleep come into play?

Sleep to Improve Cognitive Performance

We tend to underestimate the importance of sleep for our cognitive performance. Our sleep, including how long we are asleep and the quality of our sleep, has a lot to do with our productivity, brain function, and ability to do things like safely operate a vehicle. The National Sleep Foundation took a “Sleep in America” poll in 2005 and found that 60% of adult people (around 168 million people at the time) said that they had driven a vehicle while being drowsy in the past year prior to the survey date. Not just that, but 37% of those people said that they had fallen asleep at the wheel. In my e-book, Become Extraordinary, I share a tragic story of the Hardman family, who lost multiple lives on a trip to Disney due to the teenaged son falling asleep at the wheel.

Sleep doesn’t only translate into driving safety, but also into your productivity levels and cognitive performance at work. Research is demonstrating that sleep deprivation actually degrades higher-level cognitive capacities such as memory and perception overtime. That’s a scary thought! I also took a look at Neuroimaging evidence and found that research shows the prefrontal cortex of the brain is the most affected by sleep deprivation. Why does that matter? The prefrontal cortex just so happens to be responsible for executive function tasks, which we can then connect the dots to see how sleep deprivation could affect major functions, both on the job or off. Staying awake for more than eighteen consecutive hours hinders your reaction speed, short-term and long-term memory, and cognitive speed amongst other functions. Now think about cutting back sleep even more. Not only will it affect your cognitive function, but also other areas of your life and body!

Sleep and its Effect on Weight Gain

The ghrelin hormone is what signals hunger and tells your brain to eat. The leptin hormone is what tells your brain that you are full and that you don’t need to eat anything else. Not getting enough sleep affects both of these hormones, which causes ghrelin levels to increase and leptin levels to decrease. This confuses the brain and leads to your brain wanting more food even when it is not necessary. Heard of the munchies? Not getting enough sleep can also cause snacking when you’re up late as well as more serious things like impaired insulin metabolism. These both can contribute to increased weight gain.

Not only will the late night munchies add on extra and unwanted weight, but they can also contribute to nighttime acid reflux. If you’ve ever gotten up in the middle of the night with acid reflux, you know how unpleasant it can be. Not only is the stomach pain and odd taste in your mouth unpleasant, but the effects go far beyond just internal discomfort. These interrupt your much-needed sleep and can lead you to wake up feeling even worse. Grogginess and brain fog definitely don’t help you on your journey to improved cognitive performance!

Challenge Yourself

My challenge to you this week is this: Take a journal of your sleep habits. Write down when you go to bed and when you wake up, as well as how much you slept. Do this for the next five days.  At the end of the five days, take 10 minutes to mindfully reflect on your entries. As you do this, do you notice any patterns?

How many hours of restful sleep did you get? Did you wake up feeling groggy? What about waking up to go to the bathroom or get a snack in the middle of the night? Did you check your phone or time a few times?

Once you get to know your sleep habits, you can start taking the steps and make the necessary changes to have quality sleep. With quality sleep, you will be more alert and perform your best in your waking hours.

Have questions? Let’s get in touch. I’d love to work with you to help you improve your Cognitive Performance and overall wellness. Sweet dreams!

Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan

Posted in: September 10, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

Today I want to share with you all the importance of developing a plan and tracking progress towards it.

If you haven’t yet, make sure you download my e-book on Becoming Extraordinary. You can download it by entering your email here. You’ll find blog posts here to further unpack each section and give it to you in bite-sized pieces. I look forward to sharing this journey with you!

Planning Through History

Let’s start by going back in history. While these days, the hectic and busy nature of our lives may make it seem close to impossible sometimes, planning has been going on for what feels like forever. Think back to Imhotep (2667-2600 BCE). If you aren’t familiar with this name, he was the architect of the Step Pyramid of Saqqara, Egypt. This is the oldest pyramid in Egypt, and it is still standing today. Think about the planning that had to go into this success. He lived in a world with no “how-to” guide, no Internet search engines, and no textbooks. He used his intelligence and ability to plan to construct this monumental accomplishment.

Pat Riley’s Success

You might be thinking, “How does this apply to me?” Well, think of a plan you have now or one that is in the works. Whether you’re planning your next move or simply your next vacation, mapping out the road to your goals is essential. I want to encourage you today to build a chart for your progress. Write down your goals for where you want to be in the next six months, in the next year, and even down the road up to 20 years. In my e-book, I shared a quote by Pat Riley, the successful coach behind the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Nicks. He states, “plan your work, work your plan.” This can be applicable in all areas of our lives. Pat Riley was successful…and you can be too! In fact, you can be extraordinary.

Measuring Progress

Once you’ve got your plan, let’s talk progress. Progress can be measured in tiny amounts or in huge steps. If the goal is small, use small steps. Note little victories and successes along the way. If your goal is large, create goals along your timeline. These goals will vary, and remember – they can change. Just because you make a goal or plan at one point in your life doesn’t mean it is static. Leave it flexible, and give it room to grow if necessary.

Measuring Goals

I also shared a quote from Peter Drucker, who found success as a management consultant. His phrase, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure” speaks to me in this situation. You have to have a goal to measure. You have to pinpoint points along your journey that will allow you to manage your time and goals effectively and efficiently.

Channeling Your Energy

Now, let’s focus on the energy behind your goals. I want you to learn how to insert creative energy into your work and into achieving those goals that have been set. Do this through documenting your ideas to meet your goals and allow yourself to reel in the energy to make them happen. Share ideas with others and get the ideas down on paper. This also frees up room in the brain for other thoughts. It unclutters your brain and leaves room for creativity, more ideas, and improved clarity. Allow yourself, and your brain, some breathing room! You reward is increased creative thoughts and more “out-of-the-box” thinking.

Recording progress also causes an increase in your belief in yourself and your capabilities. You will learn to move past setbacks, to push through major or small disturbances, and to keep your eyes focused ahead. Writing progress down makes it tangible. Support yourself and allow yourself the chance to recognize positives and progress. Your work has been planned, and now you can plan to work.

For more insights on how to remove barriers and get unstuck, take a look around my website. I’d also love to discuss how my services can work for you!

Finding Your “Why”

Posted in: August 7, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

Are you satisfied with your accomplishments?
Think back on the goals you’ve completed thus far. Most of us tend to operate on moving from one short-term goal to the next. We focus on graduating, then finding a job, then perhaps marriage or another relationship, then family, then our career or starting a business that inspires us, etc. Our list can go on and on – and surprising, our human nature of status quo and our innate need for safety leads to continuing to go after a goal long after is serves our internal desires.

Even though we may be working on the same goal list for years, research suggests that 30-50% of people are not deeply satisfied with their lives. This constant moving from one short-term goal to the next doesn’t necessarily lend itself to our satisfaction and happiness. One thing that’s also important to recognize is that every 5-10 years, as we mature, our goals and desires can (and usually will) change.

What are your goals? What are you committed to?
For most of us, staying dedicated and seeing the goal to actualization can be challenging given the daily demands of life. We’re surrounded by the urge to want to be an indulgent pleasure seeker of bliss or escapism through moderate behavior patterns.

Today, one of my goals is focused on life satisfaction that comes from the commitment that provides a positive impact on others through my business and personal relationships. I am dedicated to finding and teaching the best evidence-based strategies to help the most people find life satisfaction. I help people find out how to find their “WHY” and determine the motivation behind their goals and desires. Those things that inspire you, is the Why that allows you to dig deeper and accomplish goals that propel you forward towards life satisfaction.

Ask your self if your outer goals are aligned with your deepest inner desires. Do you feel stuck or dissatisfied with where you are or getting to where you want to go? It’s important to identify ways to help yourself satisfy your goals for your life. I want to share with you a neurocoaching exercise to help you find your “why”. It will take about 30-40 minutes, and all it involves is you, your honesty, and a pen and paper!

Finding Your “Why” Exercise

Preparation:
On your sheet of paper, make five separate columns.
Column One:
In this column, list your major past goals, desires, accomplishments, and purposes.
Column Two:
For column two, list your current loves. These are the activities or things that give you the most pleasure and meaning.
Column Three:
Column Three should be a list of all your future goals and desires. Make sure that you are listening to your inner voice – these should be goals and desires that you intuitively feel would give your life purpose, value, and direction.
Take a Step Back:
Now that you’ve completed these first three columns, take a step back. Relax wherever you are, take deep breaths, and get to a place of total relaxation. Meditate on these columns. Don’t allow yourself to judge your thoughts or feelings, but rather take them in for what they are. Pay close attention to any patterns of inner truths that come to the surface. These could be concerning your past loves and purposes, or what you desire to focus on for the next couple of years. Write down these thoughts that come to you.
Column Four:
After taking this time, use column four to make a list of your inner obstacles. These are the things that are holding you back from achieving all you want to achieve. These are the qualities about yourself that you would like to be free from or learn how to accept and move forward.
Column Five:
Finally, list the outer obstacles that could potentially make it difficult to or stop you from achieving your future goals. These are outward things that can get in your way, such as money, people, or time. It’s important not to leave this part out because you need to make sure you come up with a plan to overcome both real and imagined obstacles.

Once you’ve completed all five columns, take the time to reflect on them.
Research shows the importance of recognizing problems visually so that you can then create solutions. Going off this, you can then start to visualize yourself overcoming these obstacles and taking actions on your goals and desires. This visualization is essential to then make the decision of the direction you want to take your life in. This exercise will help you identify what is important to you, what you desire for your future, and give you the ability to recognize the importance of addressing your past skills and experiences as ways of making you who you are today. Keep being mindful, and continue to write down any intuitions that come to mind – including those “a-ha” moments and experiences!

I hope this post and exercise is able to help you identify what your future goals look like and what your big “why” is. I’d love to hear what you discover about yourself and what steps you take to overcome both inner and outer obstacles to help yourself achieve your goals and desires.

A Roadblock to Change: Past Traumas

Posted in: March 5, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

When Old Habits and Painful Memories Get in the Way of Success –––

As you begin to replace habits that no longer serve your new goals, the old habits and memories formed out of past trauma and painful events may resist this change. This natural resistance can trigger fear reactions that have nothing to do with the present. This is due, in part, to our innate need for security and survival. For most of us, trauma-based habits were formed to protect oneself. After the traumatic event, the trauma’s visual image (“the movie”), our associations, our mental, physical and emotional interpretations (may) settle into semi-permanent memory circuits buried in our unconscious. When this happens, our negative thoughts, feelings, and memories can get in the way of our desire to become fully present and focused.

Path to Goal Acceleration

When you find a strong negative reaction coming up as you strive to reach your goals and develop new habits, it is usually a sign that you are ready to excel and create the life of your dreams! Use the recommended NeuroCoaching techniques such as journaling, developing a CRAP board, and/or make of list of 3 things you can complete today to restart your motivation circuits.  But if you get “stuck,” know that there are resources, support groups, therapist, and certified NeruoCoaches,  to help you become centered, internally quiet, and to walk you through a trauma mindfully.  Rule of thumb is after a week or two you can’t get unstuck, look for support from someone you feel comfortable with and helps you to discover your unique resolutions. www.mindfulneuroleader.com

 

Turn off the Worry Switch!

Posted in: February 27, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

Brain Science and Worry —

The brain is the most complex and complicated organ in your body – with over 160 billion living organisms (neurons and glial cells). Your complex brain is motivated by pleasure. If a project, a job, a relationship or any other activity that promises a future reward, your brain is to stimulate to capture this pleasure as long as it appears to be achievable.

Here’s the catch­, if it experiences pain – physical, mental or emotional, the deepest part of our brain (i.e. nucleus accumbens) activity lessens. Even is the pain being from a past memory, worry and frustrations can set in and stall us from performing or completing the desired project.

Who Worries?

We all worry to some degree. Worrying can also be a condition that is culturally acceptable and habitual. For some of us, we’ve been a condition to worrying.  We may be concerned for other’s well-being over ours and unnecessarily “think” too often about other’s lives, then try to offer input and advice – in effect, try to control something that we cannot change. Thus, we fret and worry.

Worrying can stop you in your tracks. Worrying is a form of mental stress, and 90% of your uncertainties and doubts are based on fantasies and memories from the past. If you get in a cycle of rumination, the brain will respond to those worries – as if they are actual threats in the world. Worrying is unpleasant and it will, over time, push you into depression which means your motivation centers have shut down.

Turn off the Worry Switch!

Take action! When my clients are stuck in worry, I recommend they make of list of 3 things they can do today that moves them one step closer to their goal.  The list can be comprised of simple tasks that are fairly easy to accomplish. Actions such as going to the gym, taking a 20-minutes mindful meditative walk, or writing down a lit all of their successes and they appreciate what they have accomplished help you to get unstuck and the brain to shift.  Doing something – anything – that will bring you’re a sense of pleasure and that focusing on the potential of success turns back on the motivation centers in your brain.

But if you’ve been stuck for a long time, you’ll have to “oil” that motivation machine by asking for support from friends, colleagues, coaches, and mentors. You have to learn how to become a knowing that there is always something you can do today, right now, to bring a little more pleasure into your life!

How to Get Rid of Weight Gain Due to Stress

Posted in: January 8, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

 

Are you over eating due to stress?

––

Stress takes a toll on our body. It also can have a damaging effect on our brain health. Long-time exposure to it can even have deleterious effects on people[1] and can cause havoc in our daily life.

As a result, many people have taken to different coping mechanisms. One of the more popular ones is through food, or what is known as “stress eating.”  A recent study found 35-60% of people report eating more total calories when they are experiencing stress. Stress eating is also double whammy in that while it provides an easy “escape” from stress, it also exacerbates its effect, thanks to its behavioral and physiological effects.

There are, however, a number of simple things that to help reduce or prevent these so-called extra “stress calories” from adding up. Mindfulness-based approaches may reduce compulsive overeating, address associated behavioral and emotional dysregulation, and promote internalization of change.[2] Mindfulness, exercise, and developing good habits help to ease and ward off the damaging effects of daily stressors. With consistent practice, one can reduce destructive eating habits and learn to manage stress effectively.

Stress-Induced Eating: A Vicious Cycle

Accordingly, acute or chronic exposure to stress evokes a number of behavioral and physiological responses that change a person’s metabolic and behavioral state.[3] This simply means that continuous exposure to stress can have major effects on one’s physical, mental, and even emotional well-being.

Stress has been shown to affect the body’s caloric intake. A number of studies even indicate that constant exposure to stress can promote eating disorders like anorexia or even cause obesity, depending on one’s dietary environments. This almost works in conjunction with the aforementioned emotional changes stress induces, which leads many people into looking for an appropriate coping mechanism such as stress-induced eating.[4]

As so, the negative physiological effects that stress already has on the body are complemented by eating when stressed. It creates a vicious cycle: stress promotes bodily intake, which leads to changes in calorie consumption, and overeating supports that notion through the introduction of unnecessary “comfort food” into the body.

Appropriate Coping Mechanisms

There are several ways a person can practice stress management other than indulging in comfort food. One effective way is by seeking assistance from family and friends. Having positive reinforcement can help give one a sense of healthy positivity and even assistance when it comes to formal mental health treatments, if necessary.[5]

Actively engaging in physical activities may be helpful in managing stress levels. A study done on river flood survivors who were tasked to undergo yoga practice as a coping mechanism for stress showed that just one week of yoga relieved them of their anxiety and their self-perceived sadness.[6] It may thus prove helpful to engage in physical activities that may take one’s mind off stress.

One other way that could help is through psychological or even pharmacological assistance. While stress eating is indeed a way to cope with the stress one is undergoing, this may merely hint at deeper problems, such as anxiety and other related disorders. Moreover, unresolved issues may be associated with distinct risk factors.[7]

Reduce “Stress Calories” The Proper Way

“Stress eating,” while an easy coping mechanism, is not the most effective way to deal with everyday stress. It merely complements the physical effects that stress has on the body while assisting in its caloric intake. There are, however, a number of ways to improve on stress management, such as by engaging in natural rewards that provide similar effects.[8] There is no need to engage in unhelpful eating habits when there are many safe and healthy ways available today to manage stress.

As so, if the problem is unresolved in the long-term, it may be helpful to seek advice from a health professional or performance coach.  If you would like to learn more how to develop the habit of mindfulness to reduce worry and stress, contact Bernadette today for a complimentary 15-minute intro session. Learn more about this exclusive offer at www.mindfulneuroleader.com.

[1]    Chrousus et al., 1998. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/83/6/1842/2865131

[2]    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-012-0179-1

[3]    Dallman et al., 2003.

[4]    Ulrich-Lai et al., 2015. Stress Exposure, Food Intake and Emotional State.

[5]    Griffirths et al, 2011. https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-244X-11-196

[6]    Telles et al., 2010. https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-244X-10-18

[7]    Schaal et al, 2010. https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-244X-10-55

[8]    Ulrich-Lai et al., 2015. Stress Exposure, Food Intake and Emotional State.

Let's Connect
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons