PODCAST 16: Neuroscience for Your Life and Biz: an Interview with Dr. Sarah McKay

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Transcript:

Emily Carter  

Hi, I'm Emily. And this is From Hustle to Hell Yes. The podcast with insights and interviews about entrepreneurship, the culture of work, and how to build a business that thrives with you. You'll walk away from every episode with ways to create more ease, enjoyment and effectiveness in your business. So you can really play by your own rules. Welcome to From hustle to hell yes. I'm your host, Emily Carter. Have you ever wondered what's going on in your brain? With the giant leaps in neuroscience making headlines over the last decade, chances are you've come across brain based something or other. But what's that really mean? The answers can be hard to come by. If you've noticed, neuroscience is usually locked away in ivory towers behind the paywall of academic journals, presented at scientific meetings for other scientists, or delivered in a way that is irrelevant to our daily lives, then you're in the right place. Today's guest on the pad is Dr. Sarah McKay. And neuroscience is her thing. Yes, neuroscience is broad, deep, complex, mysterious and transformative. But learning about the mind and brain isn't only for scientists, doctors and academics. And if you've learned about the mind and brain from people with little training and science or understanding of the complexities of research, and there are plenty of folks jumping in the neuroscience bandwagon, marketing themselves as brain gurus and selling outdated, or even mythical neuro nonsense. You're also in the right place. Dr. McKay is writing, teaching and online training programs are created so that we can easily understand and implement evidence based neuroscience strategies for our everyday life and work. I got to ask her, what are some misleading or false neuroscience ideas that have been circulating lately? How can we use what she knows about neuroscience to better handle anxiety or uncertainty in our life in business? And what is going on with the brain fog that folks are experiencing lately? She answers these in so many other questions today using common sense, real world examples, stories, and humor.

Sara, thank you so so much for being here. Today. I am just really excited to talk to you about neuroscience, would you mind starting off by telling us a little bit about your background? And then I've got a really long list of questions for you.


Dr. Sarah McKay  

I'll try, I'll try and be quick. It's always nice opportunity to be self indulgent and talk about yourself. But I'm at the moment setting in Sydney, Australia, with my very needy dog next to me. But I actually grew up in New Zealand. So I had a, I was very fortunate part of the world to grow up, be nice if the borders reopened, so I could get back in that will. That's another story. So I headed off to university to do a sort of a health sciences major way back in the early 90s. And met and fell in love with neuroscience in a first year psychology lecture, talking about synapses, and just utterly captivated by the idea of brains and new neurons, and what could go wrong with people when things go wrong with the brain. So really, my undergraduate degree, I changed my major to be in neuroscience, which was a brand new discipline at that point in time. I was very fortunate to win a scholarship to Oxford University to do my PhD and Master's there in neuroscience. And it's really kind of been sort of the guiding light, the North Star of my career sense. Although I haven't always stayed in academic research. I've, that's always just been where my interest has, has aligned. It's an incredibly broad, rich, deep and super complex subject. And I've like barely scratched the surface of the cortex. But it's, you know, it's what gets me excited every day. And I think, over the years over decades now, of being involved in various ways, teaching, researching, writing, talking about neuroscience, I can start to see how so much more of it can be applicable to people's everyday lives. And certainly people are getting far, far more interested. Yeah, and neuroscience, it's really just kind of enjoy to me and I, I suppose the my primary kind of job these days as I run online professional development courses, teaching neuroscience to people who want to learn a little bit more, but perhaps, you know, they're grownups and they now are doing the jobs they do. Perhaps the teachers, psychologists, therapists, you know, leaders working in big business or working for themselves and they didn't have have the opportunity to learn about neuroscience at university. Well, they don't want to go back and do a degree, they just want to understand a little bit more. So yeah, I guess it's really on that. And I've written one book, and we're about to start writing another on all things brain and do a bit of work on TV and radio as well.


Emily Carter  

Well, that's exciting, I'm going to be looking for that. One of the things that, you know, you mentioned is that more and more folks are discovering neuroscience or learning about neuroscience or curious about it. And there might be a tendency in media, or in like self help spaces, or even in business leadership spaces, to latch on to the watered down version of neuroscience, or like, kind of the pop psychology side? And can you can you talk a little bit about some of that that's more recently in the media or or just floating around online?


Dr. Sarah McKay  

Yeah, look, I think neuroscience is a really compelling lens, to view people's thoughts and feelings and behaviors. And it's a really valid and important scientific discipline, which to do that. But because it's, I mean, I've been working in neuroscience various ways, like, coming up to 30 years now. Yeah. And, and I barely know anything, there's so much more that I don't know than what I do. And I think what we what we see in a really complex scientific discipline that also feels so meaningful to people is that enthusiasm for integrating neuroscience or using it or understanding it far outpaces people's literacy and the topic and the subject is incredibly compelling. It's incredibly exciting. But it's also really, really complicated. There are a lot of aspects about neuroscience, which make it exciting and compelling but complicated, you know, it's it's so highly relevant to who we perceive ourselves to be as people. It's there's a, there's a lot of information it can give us about things that matter, like around around mental health around healthy aging around childhood development. It doesn't necessarily answer but people perceive it perhaps being awakened to answer some, some really age old philosophical questions about the mind and the brain and consciousness. People have quite specific ideas that you know, that don't have necessarily or not at all informed by science about those topics. And so, this is another way in, I suppose, from the perspective of neuroscience, I mean, I've just always found the neurobiology interested, hey, we've got a brain so we've got a neuron has an axon attending writes, why did the axon become the axon, not a dendrite and hazardous know how to find its way, all the way through the brain to find its synaptic partner, you know, into hundreds of kilometers away, if you're walking, those are the questions that really actually fascinate me. But people often want an awful lot from from, from your research, it's gonna like answer all of the great questions of humanity, including, you know, where does consciousness come from? And all of these kinds of things, there's there is a really interesting field of study called seductive allure of the neuroscience explanation was saying, is there any, whereby people are far more likely to believe anything about the thoughts of feelings or behaviors to grow effort and neuroscience explanation accompanies it, or if there's a picture of a brain next to it, or if there's a neuroscientist talking about it. And there's lots of kinds of reasons we're still trying to unpackage why that is, for me, that's beneficial because people want to hear what I have to say. But as I say, very few people have very, very good scientific literacy these days. So it's pretty easy to be bamboozled by brain words. carry off with some idea that may or may not be valid simply because someone says something neurosciences founding about it.


Emily Carter  

A friend of mine, Alyssa Patmos says that there are only two things that bring out like all of your insecurities and its relationships and building a business. And there are so many things to be anxious about when you run your own business. And certainly a lot over the last like two years that might actually compound you know, the typical stress levels of entrepreneurs and business owners, dealing with that fear and anxiety is pretty much in the job description. What is going on in our brain when we're experiencing that kind of fear and anxiety? And can you help us unpack that and kind of like, get a grip on what's going on internally?


Dr. Sarah McKay  

That's such an insightful comment, your greatest anxieties around what what and I think you can almost sort of sum it up, you know, our greatest anxiety is what will they think babying others which is around you know, you just don't want to be accepted and loved and seen as valued. And whether that be in the relationships we have with other people, or running your own business, and I remember when I first set up my own business So I've kind of been running it in various guises since I had my oldest son. So we're kind of looking at 2008 Nine. And I remember I'd go to these some of these like business, Women's Business breakfast, like things back in the day, belong to a thing like that without a second thought. And I'd be like it just becoming a Self Help Forum. And it drove me bonkers, actually coming out of academic neuroscience. So yes. And I was like, why what's less fluffy, whoo, I still can't stand fluffy woowoo. But I kind of constantly felt like I was doing self help courses, not building business courses. And then I came to realize that there is a reason for that, so much of building a business is around dealing with your own insecurities, and, you know, anxieties, and, you know, building something that that you have created that is new, and then presenting that to the world. And as the years have gone on, it's funny because I, I spent quite a bit of time a few years ago, here in Australia, New Zealand, mentoring scientists who are coming out of academia who are looking to move into different disciplines. And a lot of that might be around science, communication, or writing or editing, which is a natural fit for lots of lots of medical scientists, good health communications, as everyone has seen in the last two years, it's pretty important to get public health patients have a good understanding of science and health and medicine and translate that to the world. But But what I, what I used to say to so many of them, was you can't if you if you want to be a business owner, or a freelancer, you can't be a secret. And so many of them was like they really wanted to do, I don't want anyone to know what they were doing. They didn't, they wanted to keep the business a secret message, you can't run a successful business if it's a secret. And they, it took them so long, and I was not at all well. I watched them through that process. I've learned far more skills in the last sort of 567 years since I did being apart, all I did was tell them my story. Because I know what it's like. And I think, you know, we humans, it doesn't matter whether we're a newborn baby, or, you know, I've had my son start high school two years ago, my other one my other son's about to start next year in such a vulnerable time. You early teenage years and sadly and you scorn and and then we know with pets, you're you know, you're a new mom, you've got a little baby, or you're going through different phases of your life, the greatest vulnerabilities are around feeling accepted and seen and valued by other people. And if we're not cared for and we're not loved, and then you can pay more for a baby. But unless it's nurtured and loved and cared for insane what a teenagers want, they just want to feel part of a tribe, they just want to fit in, they just want to not feel like other people are looking at them that something wrong with them. As a matter of which point of life you're in. You have these points when you're incredibly vulnerable. And often it's about what what am I am I doing okay? What are other people thinking of me, we have this was it need that fundamental need to belong. And when we're not feeling like we're belonging, there's all of these emotions that emerge. And part of it's just almost like a survival instinct than that being a member of a tribe is a really a really important thing for us, physically, but emotionally as well. And I think like over the last, you know, the pandemic, I think you have to do fairly convincing to people to teach them how the importance of social connections for health outcomes. Because so many people have been so lonely and isolated and seen a cry whenever I think about it, I haven't seen my mom in nearly two years. It's because she's in New Zealand. And she isn't the same my boys, nearly two and a half. And I had dinner with her and February 2020, because I was in New Zealand doing some work and didn't see her again for however long. And it's just don't you everyone just wants to be you just want to be connected. And I think when you're building a business, and you're doing it by yourself, want to make it a success and so much of yours and that that you want to be seen and accepted. And as soon as you haven't got any of that that loss of connection is a fear of being not accepted. So it's a fun, it's a real it's a real fundamental drive. And I think sometimes when we when we start to understand that and certainly that's one great gift neuroscience has always given me as an understanding of kind of what's what's is sort of a typical human response to something almost it allows me to be a bit more dispassionate about that. I kind of see it as well, that's kind of how humans are great. Nothing wrong with feeling with feeling that way. It's funny like this is unrelated to building businesses, but maybe some parents listening, because I learned a lot about through my career and also being in the mix of now, the adolescent brain because I have two adolescent boys, and one of the great drives of a young adolescent or a teenager is capacity to belong. And that kind of almost divorcing the appearance of moving out of the family nest and finding a tribe of their own. Who are my knees? Who are my new people, and how can I fit in and be with me and, and everything and all of your drives are towards your brand. So my son would dry it would catch the bus home from schools not found the bus, but it's up quite a steep hill. And then he rang me is is getting so tired. That well, because his 13 year old boy, and if he wants with mum with mum will jump and leave a drive or drive him home doesn't say much grants a bit, and then I just let him be and then you sort himself out. And then half an hour later, you might come downstairs, the ball and resume says, I'm going off to my mates at The Oval. And I'd be like, do you want me to drive he's like, No, and he will walk twice the distance that he would have walked home from the bus and the other direction, because he's driven and he has energy to be with his crew to be with as big as his new little tribe of boys. And that, so so that it's not that he doesn't want to hang out and meet but he doesn't, he's driven to be with them. And that is just 100% Completely developmentally normal for someone of his age, that drive for him to belong to them, has given him the physical energy to walk twice the distance that he couldn't happen earlier. Right. And I just suddenly understand that there are some pretty predictable ways people might behave in certain situations. You can give them grace, you can give yourself grace, you can always forgive, forgive the humaneness. And, you know, our greatest vulnerabilities are really always around that around that acceptance, I think.


Emily Carter  

Yeah. And, you know, as you're talking, I was thinking, you know, of course, understanding what those typical responses are, might make you feel a lot less lonesome in experiencing them yourself, you know, and understanding like, Oh, I'm, of course not the only person going through this, because this is actually very typical.



Yeah, and, you know, that's why there's often books written about these ideas. And, and I think we sometimes get too scared to admit it to ourselves, let alone anyone else. But if you go, Oh, that's kind of what humans are like. You know, and I suppose that that was the biggest thing that surprised me was so much self help, but with business building, like, what is that about? And then I now fundamentally 100% realized, because mostly, that's what building your businesses? Yeah,


Emily Carter  

yeah. You know, and so one of the things that I wonder is, is, what are some brain based solutions for kind of coping with stress and anxiety, and particularly at a time when we might ordinarily be able to form community? If we're not able to do that in person to alleviate that fear and anxiety and stress? What are some brain based solutions that we can tap into instead?


Dr. Sarah McKay  

Yeah, such a good question. And I think a lot of what we're facing now, and we've probably got more used to it actually say we've been a bit more well trained in it in the last year or two is, is uncertainty, and feeling tolerant to uncertainty and not kind of knowing what the future holds. Because up until, to start at 2020, most of us could kind of figure out how the year was going to roll out and how we would say in the conferences, and you could make a reasonable amount of predictions. And if you think about your brain, receiving data from your body, and the outside world, and making meaning of that we kind of it was kind of reliable information coming in, but you kind of figure out what to do next. And when you know what's happening next. It's not, it's fairly stressful, then when you don't know what's happening. Next, it's a little bit like riding a bike down a really busy road, if you've done it 100 times, you kind of know, well, these kids are going past the school and they might be kids. And it's a bit of an uphill climb here. And then I'm going to go past the shops and I have to be careful because it's fine. If you're riding along that road with your eyes closed, you don't know what's coming next. It's way more stressful. So I think if we kind of think about the current state many of us are in right now is just being a degree of uncertainty. How can we build our tolerance to that because if we are uncertain, we're in an a state of stress and anxiety versus when there's a great deal of certainty and reliability and comfort with Alice, so I kind of think well We can't what can we control? There's some things we can control. We can't control when the next flip and peak of the virus will be and where and when? And what's going to be open and closed? And who can we say but but there are certain things much closer, we always have to pull our focus in closer and you know, the idea of control what you can, what what certainly can you build in almost artificially into the system to provide certainty. And so then there's the really simple things like having you know, I having a detailed daily or weekly schedule, so you know what you're meant to be doing the next hour you might not know about next month, but at least you know, what's immediately in front of you. And you can work towards little, little tiny, wee goals, check them off, and give yourself a high five and celebrate and remind your brain continue giving your brain information that hey, good things still happen, I still have agency, I still have choice, I can still decide what to do next hour and achieve it and feel good about myself, instead of looking Mars into the future. And just normally, you can't see what's the So build as much certainty, reliability, and little tiny weak goals. And then you can then like, wallow around in the joy of completing, I have the last two years had constantly on the go 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, and after about 12 or 13 or something. Because I find such comfort and joy and each little piece of the puzzle, I get in it sometimes back to me half a day before I get one better, and what you know, might get 10 in 10 minutes ending on which pace you're doing. And it's like I've got this 1000 little opportunities to feel really good about myself, even though it's just putting a jigsaw puzzle pieces in. But there's so much comfort in kind of joy. That sounds so silly, but it's so true, am I building joy in and these really, really small, little ways because you've got a piece of the jigsaw puzzle, you've pretty good about yourself, it's really meaningful, but your brain doesn't know if it was meaningful. That was that was a good bit, it was a good piece well done. So if we can think about doing that on a bigger scale as well, not just the jigsaw pieces, but what other sort of, you know, little goals and things can we sell


Emily Carter  

little accomplishments Can we see it into our day so that we can start getting some of that positive feedback.


Dr. Sarah McKay  

Even if it's like, you know, you really like a glass of wine and I want a glass of wine and like I say, have a glass of wine and enjoy the glass of wine don't like beat yourself up over whether or not you know, like, if you want to have one, have one and lean into the pleasure don't have it if it's going to make you feel terrible. You say you know the moments of joy in the little pockets of happiness that we can find like roll roll around and unlock a peg in the mud. I think in other ideas, we often we're so familiar with ideas around, exercise and get out and I this year. As I said before, and I'll cry again, if I think about my mom, I was made to go to New Zealand and the beginning of July, take my boys over with ever going to see her for the first time two years and then all of the Delta variant had Australia, New Zealand, the borders closed a couple of days for me to fly out. And it was absolutely devastating because I knew that New Zealand was going to take a really super conservative approach and couldn't wouldn't get there this year. So I cried most of and then went for a swim one day and I lived near the beach was the middle of winter and I was just going to go for a swim down in the ocean. Just because I don't I just wanted to feel my I wanted my body to feel something wanted to get out of my emotions. And I just went and threw myself in the sea in the middle of winter. And I that was really good. And none of this whole cold water breathing. Wim Hof. And just like it was so nice to be physically doing something that was uncomfortable, but not dangerous. And I just felt so good. And so I say to my 11 year old I said why don't we see if we can swim every day of August, end of July. And I said let's call it Dory August Just keep swimming. So we set ourselves a goal and swim in the ocean every day of August. Only Rosie had to get an Ananda would if we could spend an hour snorkeling with the local sharks of which there are local sharks that we could spend an hour snorkeling with, it's very safe. Or we just have a quick surf or we don't do some laps in an ocean pole. We're just jumping in under the waves if it was cold and stormy. And it just gave us this like physical joy every day. And and there were two things in the one that gave us certainty. It gave us something that was ours that we did every day. This familiar place where we could sort of lose ourselves. But there was also the added sense of change and kind of curiosity. So even though we're in the same beach will want to two or three local beaches near us and having the certainty of the drive and we play the exact same music and the car every day for a month was three songs that my 11 year old DJ made. And there was so much comfort that came from the certainty of the drive to the beach. And these three songs, and the two of us together. Because there was no unpredictability there. But because the same was different every day, there was a bit of curiosity, which kind of kept it so so like, oh, wow, it's completely flat and clear today, or today, it's wavy, or it's raining, or it's, you know, there was there was that kind of ticked off a lot of things. So I think if we can find ways to be outdoors in the world, and if it's walking the exact same path every single day, that's okay. Because that's there's comfort in that, and there's comfort and extra certainty in that you know, exactly what's around the corner. And that may be just what you need, you may need to exercise doing exactly the same thing every day. And that's fine. Or maybe what you need is something different and new and curious. And that's when you perhaps have to do something different every day. So I think just just finding ways to get the outside and data, the outside world in another way to help manage your mind. But the hardest way, the worst, may the most impossible way to try and manage my mind is to use my mind. Right? I'm not skilled enough to do that. I don't, I can't meditate. I can't, you know, change, use my Chiang Mai thoughts as my thoughts. I go from the bottom up jumping in the ocean, or the date of visual input, or the jigsaw puzzles, I use all of the other ways into my mind, then my mind itself. You had a great deal of cognitive control. And problem sure I can manage if I tried really hard, but when I'm stressed or uncertain, there's other there's other that's


Emily Carter  

not what you want to do when you're stressed and feeling uncertain, as


Dr. Sarah McKay  

DN and the world around me to my body versus trying to think my way out of the norm.


Emily Carter  

Yeah, that totally makes sense. You know, a lot of the work that I do with clients really focuses on how we can kind of use those physical sensations to create a better relationship with our work a healthier relationship with our work, right. So much of the work that a lot of us do is very sedentary, you know, we're sitting in front of our computers, like I can feel it's doing damage to my body, I'm pretty sure it's doing damage to my brain. And and what are some ways that we might think about creating some healthier ways of working, that are really about paying attention to the health of our brain and how the work that we're doing is impacting that.


Dr. Sarah McKay  

Yeah, I think into being intellectually engaged and challenging as and damaging your brain. So if you're like completely engaged, and you're sitting at a desk, you have a lot of intellectually challenging work, actually, it's having the opposite effect is building resentment in your brain, so that you're not damaging it. If you are stressing yourself out, and you can't do those too challenging, and you're physically causing physical stress in your body. I mean, that's not damaging your brain. But you should find some more useful ways to approach your work or to buffer that stress, or, or whatever. So I don't think there's anything new under the sun. And I would take bottom up outside and top down approaches to brain health as I do everything. And we're all pretty familiar with a lot of the bottom up things you know about having a good healthy diet and making sure you exercise. I think, perhaps one of the sort of biological ways we can approach and it's related to outside and as well, good health is to get good sleep, and I do not, there's nothing else that matters more, it is the foundation on which everything else must be built as with sleep. We every cell in our body has a biological clock that's been trained to the rising and the ceiling of the sun, the spending of the earth on its axis journeys around the sun. And we can we can wiggle our way out of that. lightbulbs and iPhones and Netflix in the evening. So I think many people under consume natural light during the day and then over consume artificial light at night. And I've lost the fact that we're just organisms that evolved in a planet, that we have a biological clock and every one of our cells as does every tree out the window. So learn to honor your your sleep, there's a couple of things people can probably do to help manage the sleep more above and beyond. When it gets dark, dim the lights and get rid of the screens. As to it doesn't matter where you live in the world. But you may have to artificially manipulate light if you're too close to the pole, for example and winter is to observe sunrises and sunsets because there are specific cells in the retina of our eye, which pick up the signals the chromatic shifts between oranges and pinks and blues. low's and that provides a signal into our brain as well about the shift from day to night and night to day. So there's certainly no harm and watching a sunrise or a sunset, there's there's a biological kind of rhythm base to that. And to understand that, when night falls, and people have been familiar with the idea that that melatonin is released from our brain to signal our body is going to sleep that body temperature is intimately tied up with that. There is a reason why and they're not our wives towels to have a warm shower before you go to bed. And because it's the cooling down of your body, which sends you off to sleep. So if you start off warmer, and then you slowly cooled down, that's an easy way to fall asleep, then a few that have really hot and stay hot, like it's a really hot night and you can't sleep. Or if you start off cold and you stay cold, it's harder to fall asleep, it's a transition that's important. And what melatonin does is it helps to start to throw that it starts to encourage heat loss from your body. So let's pose the app at night. That's why when animals get ready to go to sleep, they'll curl up in a tight little ball to kind of building up the heat so then it can be lost. And it's that transition is that delta loss of age. So that's why have a warm shower. And then sleep in a cold room is a really good idea. That's why it's hard to sleep in a really hot summer's night. Because you can throw the heat off anywhere, it's you know, falling asleep. So just total ideas, the around regulating sleep that people might not be aware of. I also often nap in the afternoons for about 2025 minutes, I feel the urge to I will sleep. And then I think the other thing that people and we've touched on it already is the importance of other people in our lives and the need to belong. Loneliness is so incredibly damaging, there's nothing illness likes more than to get its teeth into it and who a lonely person is because someone who's really lonely, is sad, as anxious as perhaps depressed. And that has biological impact on your body. So that's why we need to build in the right kinds of social connections, you don't need hundreds. And it doesn't only need to be done by zone, but you need to feel that, you know, you've got those people that you can call on if you absolutely need to. And we all know how damaging that is to not be able to be with the people we love. I'm going through right now it's hard. Yeah, so just understand the importance of, of building those social connections. And however you can. And if you feel lonely, I guarantee someone else probably is to waver. I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself, I try and reach out to someone else because we're pretty sure someone else we're pretty pleased for you to call or whatnot. So that that's that's, you know, our our brains are fundamentally driven by sleep and social connection.


Emily Carter  

You know, I love hearing that I launched my business a few months before we were in lockdown. And I had envisioned a completely different path for myself. And so I found myself not only in the midst of like, uncertainty of having having a global pandemic, but also the uncertainty of like, what am I even doing here? Right, like, what is this business? I think I'm starting, you know, and rest and finding folks at the same place in their business. So just starting their business, those two things were pivotal for me, and I leaned hard into them because it felt good, right? Like, I could tell that it was helpful. So it's really good to hear that there's really a good reason for that. You know, we are we're coming up on the end of 2021. And some of the stuff that I'm hearing, especially from from the folks that I work with, is that this year's been harder than the year before. You know, like, it seems like 2020 felt easier than 2021 Folks are tired, we're still dealing with a lot of the same things we're dealing with in 2020. It seems like we're dealing with a lot of like brain fog, it's like, harder to identify what we need to be doing when we plan to do it. So what might be going on there with our brains and maybe what are some ways that we can reset it? I know you've talked a little bit about some of those already. I think


Dr. Sarah McKay  

you look at anything goes anything perhaps new or different than what I what I've said in terms there's no sort of magic solution. Brian Yeah, I want to be partly perception and a lot of it was often tied up with you know, have a degree of stress that we're experiencing, how much sleep we're getting, and then the sense of overall well being. And when all of you know when we feel positive and connected and on purpose and you know, physically well rested and fed etc. It's very easy to pay attention and to set goals and feel motivated and work towards them and achieve them and have some sort of kind of see Insert, story and purpose and engagement. They are the kind of real fundamental drives and when we haven't been brain fog, as a as an interesting phenomenon, because it can just kind of mean sort of a lack of attention. But they couldn't be under other underlying physical issues, sort of putting under the land sort of health and health and well being sleeping, one of the main main ones are perhaps not managing stress appropriately, there's so many again, bottom up outside and top down ways to manage stress might be having a laugh with your mates, might be a glass of wine might be reading a psychological thriller, I like nothing more than a police procedural array and bed at night when I'm going to sleep. It could be jumping in the ocean every day, it could be walking a familiar path, could be cooking, it could be anything. It could be maybe meditation, just thing, it's not mine. I never mentioned that, because everyone else mentioned that he recently taking care of all of those things will reduce any physical reasons for feeling fuzzy and foggy. And then I think beyond that, it's that, you know, liver has now familiar with the idea, Adam Grant writes great post about languishing, and how there's, you know, there's this sort of, like shades of blue, there's the spectrum from, you know, feeling like everything's working, and you're on purpose, and you're engaged and socially connected, and all of that to clinical depression or anxiety or other kinds of ends of the mental health spectrum. And then there can be that kind of languishing, kind of unwell pneus in the middle. And if we can recognize it, that's also kind of a normal response to a couple of years of what the globe has been going through. Again, I think we can forgive ourselves a bit more and not expect so much, so much myself. So I also think, often when there's a crisis, and I've been thinking about this a lot, often when there's a crisis, it's not every single person in the whole planet affected. You know, I often think sometimes there's something terrible thing happens and, and, and you can wrap people around you, or you can provide support to people. And then if you're a support person, then you have another support person you can lean on and someone else they can lean on. So myself, the pedals were flare, we're kind of leaning out, and we can kind of collectively provide support, but when everyone's looking for someone to lean on, and no one's got anyone to lean on, like, like now. You know, we're a lot of the ways that we would traditionally support ourselves there. And I think that that's also okay. And sometimes if we understand that and reflect on their wish, we can we can, we can be a bit kinder and ourselves to them. We still expect ourselves to be able to perform at peak all of the time. Yes. Even to this carry on. It's hard to get going. I mean, I just, I cannot wait, I'm not going to take six weeks off, but I live in Australia, we do. You know, we take really long holidays, over the summer. So I'm I'm putting I'm putting my you know, out of office on six weeks. This summer, I'm signing out of social media, forget it all on, you know, first of all, you see, January I'm out, I am only going to read books, watching Netflix, and swim in the ocean, walk the dog hang out with my kids, I'm not going to do anything else. And I know I feel like revived revived after that. But to do that I know like in the US that's people don't


Emily Carter  

listen, part of what


Dr. Sarah McKay  

audience does is like, you know, two or three days annual leave a year, which is kind of sad. This part of the world, we will kick back for weeks.


Emily Carter  

Yeah, I wish I wish we did.


Dr. Sarah McKay  

A summer holidays. It's the end of the academic year, kids are finishing up School for the year. We have a really long summer break with Christmas sort of in the middle. And it's an it and then you can and then no one really goes back to work in Australia until sort of late January, early February. This national holiday at the end of January kids go back to school in a Jan beginning of Feb. So we've got like a really long time to recover from everything. And the bar is going down because it's summer as well. But but easier for me to approach near the end of 2021 than perhaps other parts of the world without having to go into hibernation.


Emily Carter  

Some of what I tried to address in the work that I do with clients is really thinking about like what is this cultural structure that we've created around work and what is our relationship to that because so much of our life in the United States culturally is wrapped up in what we do for work, right. It's one of the first questions that we get asked when we meet someone new. What do you do for work. So so much of our identity can be wrapped up in that. And that can give us some other weird things that we have to work out mentally before we can really start to make some decisions based on what we want to do versus what we think is expected of us. And, and being able to unpack that a little bit is is important, what you're talking about in terms of how our brains function and the things that we can do to help us get cut, like, kind of stack the deck in our favor, as we're trying to work through those like really common cultural problems, right? Really common things that we're all experiencing, it's like a really powerful way to, to clue ourselves into the fact that like, we're not actually doing this alone. None of us is operating in a bubble. And what we're really doing when we're building businesses is we're building relationships, and not always with people. Sometimes we're building them with ourselves. Sometimes we're building it with time and with work. You know, those are those are dynamic things that change over time, depending on what season of life that we're in. Do we have kids? Are we looking to retirement, you know, all of these transitions that happen? And being able to think about that, from the perspective of, of dynamic relationships that change over time. And I find it really like kind of helpful to, to be able to lean on something like neuroscience, to kind of like, oh, yeah, so it's not, it's not all like magic, or smoke and mirrors. And I'm not alone doing it. But these are dynamic things that change over time. But there's ways of looking at it that are more precise, that can kind of give you a a kind of anchor. So I think of the things that you're talking about today as like anchors, that kind of help keep me on the path that I want to be on. Being able to find ways to physically bring yourself back into that kind of sense of groundedness I think is incredibly helpful. We are coming up on the end of our time here. And I have certainly learned a ton from talking with you, Sarah, thank you so much. for your time today. Thank you so much for being really generous with your knowledge and really digging in on on how we can start to use neuroscience as a as a way of planning our day and really starting to feel good about our day. You know if we're not feeling good about it already.


Dr. Sarah McKay  

Yeah, yeah, I will. Thank you very much for the invitation to check. It was a pleasure.


Emily Carter  

Thank you so much for listening today. If you want to dive even deeper in today's episode, just go to www dot change agent dot studio slash podcast and look for this episode shownotes sign up for our newsletter, or hit up our Facebook group from hustle to hell yes. Where we discuss and share even more resources for building a thriving business and actually playing by your own rules.