The Importance of Brain Health

In the podcast episode “Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Brain Health” from Well Said, Dr. Gupta reminds us of the importance of brain health in maintaining cognitive function as we age. He spoke of 5 pillars of optimal brain health:

  • Movement – which means more than just exercise. In fact, he believes that “activity is the cure for disease.”
  • Nourishment – how and what we eat. He speaks of an acronym “S.H.A.R.P” that we can all follow that helps to nourish our brain.
  • Rest & relaxation – features why sleep and stillness is important for our brain health.
  • Connection – Here he speaks about the importance of “profound connection” and the impact of loneliness on our brain.
  • New activities and experiences – how challenging our brains with something creative will help to form new and valuable pathways.

The 23 minute podcase is filled with valuable information and goes into much greater detail. It is well worth the listen:

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has also written the book “Keep Sharp – Build a Better Brain at Any Age.” 

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Soft Addictions – Know What They Are?

I have been listening to a podcast called “The Healing Catalyst” with Dr. Avanti Kumar Singh who specializes in both western medicine and the eastern healing tradition of Ayurveda. In an episode entitled “Identifying Soft-Addictions to Reduce Inflammation,” Dr. Singh speaks about inflammation and how it is often the common denominator of illness and chronic disease. Some of her wisdom that I pulled from the episode include:

  • “There is a connection between the stressors we experience in our lives and inflammation. The bridge between the two which is our choices.”
  • “Stress is a physiological response that happens inside of us. Every choice that we make is either anti-inflammatory or inflammatory.”
  • “Soft addictions are those that we choose to cope and include overeating, drinking lots of coffee, watching too much TV, procrastinating, scrolling social media, compulsive shopping and overworking.”

Singh goes onto explain that what we often see as an acceptable way to cope, can in fact be a “health weakening choice.” The podcast episode features ways that we can reduce such choices through simple Ayurvedic techniques, that she refers to as “Ayruveda for everyone.”

This is a podcast worth listening to. Follow this link to hear the 19 minute episode:

To visit Dr. Avanti Kumar Singh’s website:

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Harriet Lerner’s Advice on Apologizing

I have a stack of books that I read for work; in fact, sometimes I have to limit my purchasing as I remind myself to catch up on the ones I have on my shelf! (I have this issue with fictional books too.) Most recently, I read Harriet Lerner’s “Why Won’t You Apologize?” and gained some insight into the art of the apology. Here are some points I resonated with:

  • We are all apology-challenged with certain people and in some situations; some apologies are easier to offer than others.
  • What drives over-apologizing? We can never know for sure. It may be a reflection of low self-esteem, a diminished sense of entitlement, an unconscious wish to avoid criticism, an excessive wish to placate, some underlying river of shame, or a desire to show off what a well-mannered Brownie Scout is. You don’t need to know what causes something in order to fix it. If you over-apologize, tone it down.
  • Perfectionism can make it difficult for any of us to offer a simple apology, because we are unlikely to be able to view our errors and limitations in a light and self-loving way. 
  • Not everything is forgivable. Accepting an apology doesn’t always mean reconciliation. The best apology in the world can’t restore connection.
  • A true apology does not ask the other person to do anything – not even to forgive.

Lerner’s chapters on forgiveness and finding peace were especially worth reading. Lerner’s words are easy to read, direct and woven with humour. “Why Won’t You Apologize?” is a worthy read.

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A Podcast of Possibilities

I have discovered a new podcast that I am passing along to you. Hosted by success coach and registered psychotherapist, Hina Kahn, “Possibilities” provides to the listener short episodes that promote self-reflection and end with a gratitude practice. Some episodes that I have recently listened to include: “The thing about money,” “Let’s go on a mental detox,” “The thing that will change your year,” and “How to create a better morning routine.”

Hina creates an energetic kindness in her delivery of the topics. What I really love about the podcast is that the episodes are only about 12 minutes long. In a very similar fashion to this blog, we can give ourselves a way to anchor our day that doesn’t take up a lot of our time but still gives us something valuable to think about and work towards. Hina also ends each episode by getting us to jot down something in our gratitude journal that is reflective of the topic she spoke about – what a great way to reinforce the nugget of great information she has provided! “Possibilities” is a wonderful addition to our self-care routine 🙂

To check out the podcast “Possibilities” by Hina Kahn:

(It also comes up when you search for it through your Podcast app)

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A Thought About Choice

In a podcast episode from Oprah SuperSoul Conversations: Finding Your Authentic Self, Oprah sits with Sarah Ban Breathnach. Featuring a candid conversation about living authentically, she speaks about what holds the power to change the trajectory of our lives:

“There are only three ways to change the trajectory of our lives for better or worse: crisis, chance or choice.”

When I first heard this, it resonated with me. We have all had at least one moment in our lives that we can remember so clearly, it was like it happened yesterday. Crisis has the power to change the direction of where we were going, both in its emotional and physical impact. Sometimes that crisis affects us only as an individual, or within our family or village context; it can even impact us at a community or societal level.  Chance can also change the trajectory of our lives in the opportunities we are given, the serendipitous moments we experience, or simply being somewhere at the right time. It was what Ban Breathnach said about choice that really stuck with me:

“Choice is a spiritual gift – one of the most spiritual gifts we have been given. Choice is the centerpiece of creating your life.”

Although I have never thought of choice as a spiritual gift, I am heartened to think of it that way. The thought that our ability to choose is tied to our spirit brings me comfort. It cements the overall knowledge that regardless of what comes into our lives via challenges, we always have the ability to choose how we are going to react. And that the choices we make both according to our values and our every day experiences have the power to create and design our life. What a lovely way to think about choice. 🙂

To listen to the podcast:

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Podcast Advice About Suffering

In a podcast episode on Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations, she sits with Bishop T.D. Jakes to talk about Covid-19 and the suffering that has been created by this global pandemic. Although the conversation centers around the experience of the coronavirus, his words about suffering are wide reaching:

“God has never hidden from us that suffering is a part of the journey. It’s dignity that we bring to the suffering that determines the outcome thereof. In the face of our pain, we must not forfeit our dignity.” He goes on to explain that our painful experiences have the ability to create resentment, cynicism and hate; yet we have the choice to allow ourselves to challenge those feelings with dignity.

“Feel the fear, but never give it the wheel.” I particularly love the analogy on this one, as my work with clients often reflects on how best they can be ‘in the driver’s seat.’ Fear will often keep us in the passenger seat of our own life.

“There is a silver lining that lives in the darkest cloud….purpose will always out wrestle pain.” 

As in all challenges we are faced with in life, we have the option to face them with faith, purpose and dignity. A lovely reminder by Bishop T.D. Jakes that we can lean into our pain in order to find its purpose.

To listen to the full podcast:

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The Winds of Luck

In a Ted Talk entitled, “Tina Seelig: The Little Risks you can Take to Increase your Luck,” I was impressed by her three pieces of advice that in many ways can be applied to having a healthy emotional life as well. They are as follows:

  1. Change the relationship with yourself: “Be willing to take some small risks that get you out of your comfort zone.”
  2. Change your relationships with other people: “You need to understand that everyone who helps you on your journey is playing a huge role in getting you to your goals. And if you don’t show appreciation, not only are you not closing the loop, but you are missing an opportunity.”
  3. Change your relationship with ideas: “Ideas are neither good nor bad. And in fact, the seeds of terrible ideas are often what grows into something truly remarkable. You need to look at ideas through the lens of possibilities.”

Tina Seelig refers to chance as the “winds of luck” and how it is very often the setting of our own sail that helps to capture those very winds.

To listen to the 12 min Ted Talk:

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4 Goals to Wellness

In an Oprah SuperSoul Conversation podcast episode entitled, “Oprah and Dr. Dean Ornish: Your Life in Focus,” they start out by discussing that “it is our nature to be peaceful and healthy.” Through research, Dr. Ornish has been able to prove that four simple techniques will help to prevent and even reverse chronic disease:

  1. Eat well.
  2. Move more.
  3. Stress less.
  4. Love more. (By this he refers to the importance of connection.)

In all of these techniques, the focus is on simplicity. Most of us already know what we should be eating, the importance of movement, the contribution that stress management plays in feeding our comfort system and how critical connection is to our soul.

The podcast was a simple yet powerful reminder that we can focus on simple strategies to create a healthy life.

To listen to the full episode:

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Emotional Agility

In a Ted talk that I was listening to entitled “Susan David: The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage,” she talks about the concept of emotional agility. She says, “How we deal with our inner world affects everything; how we love, how we live, how we parent and how we lead. The conventional view of how we see emotion, as good or bad, positive or negative is rigid, and rigidity in the face of complexity is toxic.  We need greater levels of emotional agility for true resilience and thriving.” Susan continues with her own personal story of living as a child in South Africa during the midst of apartheid and how her father’s death greatly affected her. She goes on to say, “Emotional agility is the ability to be with your emotions, with curiosity, compassion, and especially the courage to take valued-connected steps.”

We remain open to our emotions simply by observing them; to not place judgement on them, trying to decide if they are good or bad. Rather it is to simply acknowledge that “I am feeling sad,”  “I am feeling disappointed,” or “I am feeling content.”  This is essentially the concept of emotional ability; the openness to our feelings no matter what they might be.

To listen to the full 16 minute Ted Talk:

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The Choice by Dr. Eger; a Great Read

My friend recommended the book “The Choice” by Dr. Edith Eva Eger, a Holocaust survivor who was sent to Auschwitz at the age of 16. Now in her 93rd year, she continues to be an inspiration to all of those she encounters. Here are a few excerpts from her book that I resonated with:

“My own search for freedom and my years of experience as a licensed clinical psychologist have taught me that suffering is universal. But victimhood is optional. There is a difference between victimization and victimhood. We are all likely to be victimized in some way in the course of our lives. At some point we will suffer some kind of affliction over which we have little or no control. This is life. And this is victimization. It comes from the outside. – In contrast, victimhood comes from the inside. We become victims not because of what happens to us be when we choose to hold on to our victimization.”

“No one heals in a straight line.”

“Bela,” I whisper, “I think I’ve come far enough. I want to go home.” “You’ve been afraid before,” he says. “Welcome it, welcome it.” Bela is reminding me of what I believe too: This is the work of healing. You deny what hurts, what you fear. You avoid it all costs. Then you find a way to welcome and embrace what you’re most afraid of. And then you can finally let it go.”

If you are looking for a book to read, pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed. 🙂

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