Sugar Solved Podcast

Dr. Hayley Nelson - Neuroscientist & The Brain and Mental Health Expert

July 04, 2022 Sugar Solved Media Season 2 Episode 4
Sugar Solved Podcast
Dr. Hayley Nelson - Neuroscientist & The Brain and Mental Health Expert
Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Hayley Nelson earned her PhD in Psychological and Brain Sciences from The Johns Hopkins University, is a tenured professor of Psychology in the Philadelphia area, and is an international speaker. She has several peer-reviewed research publications and previous research and faculty appointments with The National Institutes of Health, The Johns Hopkins University, and The University of Pennsylvania.

By combining her knowledge of the human mind and brain health with her passion for education, teaching, and consulting, Dr. Hayley created the Academy of Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience and Be Well with Dr. Hayley to make neuroscience approachable.  With the academy ACBN, she offers professional certificate programs in cognitive and behavioral neuroscience for coaches, wellness professionals, teachers, counselors and other helping professionals who are ready to stand apart and show up as true leaders in their field.

With Be Well with Dr. Hayley, she offers individual and group consulting and speaking services. By learning easy-to-swallow knowledge of how the brain works in real-life situations, her graduates and clients are armed with an education in a subject they can use literally every single day. Not only that, they gain the power to serve their clients better and create an environment for their communities to thrive.

In this episode, we break down how the human brain works, how habits and behaviors are formed and changed, and how you can take control of your mental and emotional health to live a better, longer, and healthier life.

Connect with Hayley:
https://academyofneuro.com
https://bewellwithdrhayley.com
https://www.instagram.com/bewellwithdrhayley
Clubhouse: @dr.hayley

Connect with Sugar Solved:
https://www.instagram.com/sugarsolved/

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[00:00:02] Rebecca 

Welcome to the Sugar Solve podcast where we're demystifying health one gram of sugar at a time. From eliminating excess sugar to cutting back on carbs, diving into keto, or becoming a devout vegan, today's diet landscape can give you a sugar crash just thinking about it. Sugar Solve is here to demystify all the nutrition and health trends you're bombarded with on a daily basis, bringing you unbiased insight, research and real world experiences from experts in the field of medicine, nutrition, health and wellness. You'll gain knowledge and clarity around the biggest trends in health and nutrition and leave each week feeling empowered to make informed decisions in your own life to optimize your diet and personal wellness for longevity, long lasting energy immunity, improved focus and performance that will leave you feeling better day in and day out. The truth won't be sugar coated here. Welcome back to the Sugar Salt podcast. Today we'll be speaking with Dr. Haley Nelson, who's a neuroscientist, a psychology professor and the founder of the Academy of Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. And be well with Dr. Haley. She's going to be talking all about neuroscience, neuroplasticity, habits, behavior change, mental and emotional health and self care. Hi, Dr. Huey. Welcome to Sugar Solve. Can you give our audience a little bit of background about yourself and what you do? 

[00:01:34] Hayley 

Sure. Thank you so much for having me. I'm Dr. Haley Nelson. I am a neuroscientist, psychology professor and founder of the Academy of Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience and be well with Dr. Haley. And most importantly, I'm also a mom and a wife and a dog mom and a homeowner and all of those other hats that we all tend to wear, especially lately. 

[00:01:56] Rebecca 

So I guess I always like to ask a little bit of background about like, what's your own journey with like nutrition and diet and just health overall? Like how did you struggle with that growing up? Did you have like a good upbringing, especially? We always like to touch on sugar and how that's always played a role in your life? 

[00:02:13] Hayley 

Absolutely. No, it's a great question because I was one of those people that was very blessed early on that I could pretty much eat whatever I wanted. And I was very active. I was a tap dancer and I was a swimmer. And it was just a kind of I could eat whatever and it would just go away. And then I in college, I actually ended up discovering I have a hiatal hernia. So I was getting a lot of stomach pain and GERD acid reflux and it was able to fix it with my diet and nutrition. So really cutting out a lot of those just really acidic foods and alcohol and all of those bad habits that you're not supposed to do, which was very hard for a college student. But I did manage it, but it wasn't really until after the birth of my first child that I really started taking my nutrition more seriously because that was breastfeeding and everything that I was eating was going to him and he was having a lot of health issues, undiagnosed allergies. He had blood in his stool, he had really bad eczema. And every time we were going to the doctor, they would say, okay, cut out this, cut out this, cut it. And it was just one thing after another after another. And then I was also dealing with my own postpartum anxiety and depression, and they gave me an EpiPen once they discovered that he had several allergies and was like, just in case you accidentally eat a piece of bread that has egg or soy or dairy in it here, just save your child's life.

[00:03:34] Hayley 

And it was just so overwhelming, more so for the mental aspect of it. So I was also going through my own, as I mentioned, mental health concerns and I had the baby weight. So I wanted to try to make myself feel better and look better and also care for my son. And I practiced an elimination diet, so a 30 day clean eating, I eliminated processed sugars and really was focusing on low glycemic index foods and whole foods and whole nutrition. And I was working full time, so I had to try to figure out hacks where before I used to be able to just walk down to the corner and grab a hotdog from the vendor on the street. Now I had to figure out, okay, what are some quick, easy meals that if I don't have time in the morning, what can I make really quickly in my office that's healthy, that checks all these boxes and allows me to feel better? And I didn't even need to go the full 30 days. Like within two, maybe three weeks. The first week was really hard, but after about two weeks, I mean, yes, I started losing weight, but my acid reflux was gone completely. My anxiety levels were starting to subside. And it was one of those things where I just I felt my skin was looking better, my hair was looking better. I had more energy. People were asking me what I was doing, like, what supplements are you taking? I'm like, I'm not taking anything. I'm just eating healthy and trying to get sleep and drinking water and all of the things that your doctors told you to do from the time you were two years old on and actually doing it. 

[00:05:05] Hayley 

And it really did change my life. I discovered that I have a sensitivity to gluten, so I've cut that out of my life. And every once in a while, if I do have a slice of pizza, I don't have celiac or anything. So if I do splurge in those moments, I know what to expect and then I know how to care for myself afterwards. And I'm very mindful of what I'm putting in and on my body ever since then, because it really has changed my life. And even though I have my PhD in neuroscience, I wasn't taught about how the foods that we eat impact our brain health. You would think that I would have learned that. I mean, I came from Johns Hopkins University, for crying out loud. But I mean, I understood that there were precursors for different neurotransmitters, but really understanding that inflammation and how to care for your body's overall health really does impact how the brain works and the neuroscience behind it. And so that's when it started becoming a platform of mine that I really loved working with other people, especially mothers, to help them because I resonate. I mean, I was that person and I really wanted to help those people figure out what might be causing potential triggers in their inflammatory system and trying to help subside some of their their concerns, especially focusing on the mental health concerns. 

[00:06:21] Rebecca 

So what initially drew you to neuroscience? That's a major to go into in college and graduate. What made you go in that direction? 

[00:06:30] Hayley 

So I was, you know, freshman year, actually, I'll start before then. In high school I was really good at math and science and but I was also really into performing arts. I just loved musical theater and productions and I'm a big Broadway geek, but so I really had to decide, what do I want to do? Do I want to pursue performing arts or do I want to pursue science? And I decided to go the science route, but I selected a school that offered a minor in musical theater. And I will come back to this in just a second way. That's important. But I went in with my blinders on. I'm biology pre-med. I want to become a medical doctor. I wanted to actually be a pediatric oncologist. I don't know why I picked that field of all fields to be in. I mean, that was my direction and that was my passion. And as an elective, I just happened to take introductory psychology as one of my gender studies, and I said, Oh my gosh, this is what I want to study. The brain. Yes, biology in general is really cool, but I don't care as much about photosynthesis and plants as I do about neurons and neurotransmission and our moods and our emotions and how that is all controlled by our brain and really understanding that. So I started taking more coursework, but I went to a really small liberal arts college that didn't have there was no graduate program there. So I didn't have really a lot of upper level options for me in the field of biological psychology and neuroscience. So after undergrad, I moved down to Washington DC and I worked with the National Institutes of Health. I did. I was a research fellow with the National Institutes of Mental Health, as well as the National Institute on Drug Abuse, where I really honed my skills in the laboratory setting and understanding the importance of ethical research and publishing and really understanding the nuts and bolts behind the stuff that we read in textbooks. 

[00:08:19] Hayley 

And I just I fell in love with it. I absolutely loved being able to ask a question and then find an answer in a laboratory setting. So I knew I wanted to go to graduate school and I ended up going to Johns Hopkins University for my PhD work straight from NIH. And then while I was there, I fell in love with teaching. We had to teach in order to be able to get paid to be a student. So I was a teaching assistant and then I had opportunities to actually have my own classrooms and I loved it and it was a great way to kind of blend that performing arts passion of mine as well, because I literally feel like every day when I'm standing in front of my students, I mean, sometimes neuroscience isn't the most. Engaging and it can be very confusing and very technical. And so I feel like sometimes I need to be doing cartwheels and tap dancing and things like that to keep it entertaining. And I do feel like I'm performing almost every day when I'm standing in front of my class and teaching and conveying these messages. And my students really do resonate with it. So I've decided to continue that passion. I'm still I'm a tenured psychology professor, but then I've also put on an entrepreneurial hat to create a way for other people to be able to access this information through me, to be able to help other people as well. 

[00:09:36] Rebecca 

So if someone like me or the average person doesn't really know, like what is neuroscience, what's neuroplasticity, what are all these terms like? As easily as you can define them. What? What are they?

[00:09:47] Hayley 

Sure. So neuroscience is the study of neurons, right? So neurons are the cells in our brain and throughout our body. So we have our central nervous system, which is our brain and spinal cord. And then let's say you want to raise your right hand, something has to tell your arm to contract the muscles. And so that has to go through all the peripheral nerves. So we have the central nervous system and then our peripheral nervous system, which is composed of our somatic nervous system. So voluntary movements, but then also autonomic. So automatic processes like our fear response and what is telling your heart to beat and our how fast we're breathing and all of that, you know, and also controlling our hormones, all of this, every single thing that we do, if you're able to hear me right now or see me or smell me or have a feeling about me or the chair that you're sitting on, whatever it is, that's because your brain is active and it's doing something that's allowing you to interact with your external and internal world, right? Your thoughts, but also things outside of your body. And so that's what the nervous system does, right? It allows us to integrate that information, process it and make sense of it, remember it, and then be able to respond to it in one way or another. So neuroscience is the study of that, and there's many different fields within neuroscience. So I'm more of a behavioral and cognitive neuroscientist, so really focusing on our thoughts and our actions and how the nervous system controls that. So both from a very cognitive level, how we remember how we think, but then also more of automatic processes like our hormone system and different neurotransmitters and from a very chemical and cellular level, how that can guide our thoughts and behavior. 

[00:11:32] Hayley 

So that's more of my area of focus, but there are many other types of neuroscientists out there. And one of the most I would say popular or buzzwords out there is neuroplasticity. So really what that is, is how our brains and our nervous system can change over time, through experience, through different exposures. And our brains are very, very plastic and that's really moldable is another word you can use. So we're looking at how we can change these neural networks and neural pathways to allow for greater optimization. So if our brains can change and allow us to start thinking about things in a negative way, if we're very pessimistic, and that's a trait that we've picked up or habit that we've we've encountered, well, how can we change it? Or let's say you want to start running a marathon, you don't just wake up one day and start running 26.2 miles, right? You have to train for it. And so you have to set these regimented goals. And so how do you create these habits? And you can do that through neuroplasticity. You can automate things, make it easier for yourself to be able to do every mundane type task. And it can start very simply with what are the words that you're feeding your mind, and also what are the foods that you're feeding your brain, right? So that distinction between your mind and your brain and that can help fuel neuroplasticity to kind of ramp it up a little bit and make it more effective so that you can have an easier time creating these new habits with new motivation and things like that. 

[00:13:04] Rebecca 

So a lot of people will be like, Yeah, but it's not so easy to do that. They mean they've tried. Let's say they have like a sugar addiction or a food addiction or they have these not so good eating habits or even sleep habits where they just can't get themselves to start engaging. They try and they fall off the wagon, you know, in one or two weeks. So how do people actually make these permanent changes? Yes, it's going to be a slow growth. Obviously, it's not going to happen overnight. But what are certain ways that you've seen the most effective for changing those ingrained habits? 

[00:13:38] Hayley 

Yeah, so there are a few things that can make neuroplasticity work even better for yourself. So one thing is novelty. So new things, right? Trying new restaurants, new foods. Try dragonfruit. If you've never tried dragon fruit before, right? Try these new things. Try eating with your left hand instead of your right hand. Sit at the different side of the table. Don't eat in front of the. Just little things like that that are a new setting, a new situation, a new time of day, anything like that. If it's novel, if it's new, it's going to really wake up these neural pathways because it's something it's a change. So our nervous system is set up to really adapt to the norm. Right? But as soon as something new comes in, it wakes up, it pays more attention. And of course, I'm using that as an analogy the neurons don't actually like. Wake up. They're already awake, but they are able to gather more of that information. It's a much more salient stimulus, is what we like to call it, just it's a much more potent reminder. And so when you try these new things, it's easier to create new neural pathways when more focus and energy is in that. So novelty is a great way to do it. Obviously repetition, right? And we are all going to fall off the wagon and I don't even like to use that term. We all have those moments of weakness. If you and again, I don't even like to call that. We just we live right. And so it's okay and don't beat yourself up over it. 

[00:15:10] Hayley 

So just know that that's part of the process. And this is what people with substance use disorder, there's going to be times where there's going to be challenges and you might relapse and it's okay. Then the next day is a whole new day and you just start over and it's the same thing when you're talking about these kinds of habits. Another really great way to increase neuroplasticity, believe it or not, is aerobic exercise. So here's somebody who is like, Oh, I'm trying to change my diet. Now you're telling me to work out too? Like, can I just focus on one thing at a time? And yes, so the aerobic exercise is great for your cardiovascular health and your overall body health as well, but specifically for neuroplasticity, what happens when we have aerobic activity? It actually releases a chemical. It's a NEUROTROPE and known as BDNF, which stands for brain derived neurotrophic factor. And it helps preserve neurons. It keeps them safe, it prevents them from dying, and it also helps to regenerate new neurons. So it's a great way to really boost neuroplasticity just by exercising. So even if the habit has nothing to do with your health, let's say you want to just create a new habit that the time of day that you drive, I don't even know something that has nothing to do with your mental or physical health. But adding that aerobic exercise at least three days a week can actually increase the productivity of that neuroplasticity. So it ends up making it easier in the long run.

[00:16:33] Hayley 

So that's something I, I think surprises some people because they're always so hesitant to do any kind of aerobic exercise unless it's something that they're already used to doing. But if you look at it from, Hey, I'm going to change my mindset around why I'm exercising, it's not to lose weight. It's not for me. I'm already taking care of my health. Otherwise this is more to make it easier for me to continue on this path. So those are just a couple of tricks. Oh yeah. And tying a motion to it as well. We are a very emotional species and there's a it's been conserved through evolution for a reason and things that evoke emotion, whether it's a fearful emotion or a positive, happy emotion, whatever it is, if it ties to an emotion, then you're more likely to stick to it. Neuroplasticity is more likely to occur as well. So those are a couple little hacks to kind of ramp up the system so that it makes it a little easier for yourself. So really tie that emotion to why you're doing what you're doing instead of just, Oh, I'm doing because my doctor told me, Well, what does that mean to you? What does that mean for your children? What does it mean for your parents? Or what does it mean for your neighbors or your community, whatever? It somehow try to tie that emotion, that reason why to it and make it really, really crystal clear. And it makes it that much easier as well. 

[00:17:52] Rebecca 

So is there a reason why some people seem, you know, people who are like addicts or something, that it's so much easier for them to fall into that like some people don't. It's harder for them to build. So they don't have they don't fall into such like ingrained addictions or things like that. And some people are able to change things really easily. Is it like self discipline or like what is that? Why do some people struggle with it more than others? 

[00:18:17] Hayley 

First of all, I don't like to use the term addict, so I'm just going to say that so people who have substance use disorder, so I like to use people first terminology, but so people who have an addiction or substance use disorder, they're really I mean, I feel like we are all recovering from something, right? Maybe I'm not addicted to a chemical substance like cocaine or something like that, but maybe I procrastinate too much. Maybe there's somebody else who is addicted to working out too much or on their phone scrolling through your phone. We all have some kind of maladaptive patterns of behavior. Right. And that's really what an addiction is. It doesn't have to be to a chemical. Now, sugar is a chemical, so people can very easily get addicted to sugar. But when you're talking about these patterns, how can you so easily get into it? There's a couple a couple of reasons. First of all, some people are genetically more susceptible, but genetics really only plays about a 50% of the role. So it's this whole battle between nature versus nurture. Right. And so even if you had all of the worst genes in the world that are saying, you know, you are definitely going to suffer from substance use disorder if you never use or if you don't live in an area where it's available to you, then you won't. Right. So there's. Also that environment. So community involvement, what you're watching on TV, what you're reading, all of those things also and what you see your parents do, for example, how you were brought up that also forms how likely it is that you're going to develop certain personality traits, for example, that might make you more susceptible to trying substances and then becoming addicted to them. 

[00:19:55] Hayley 

So that's one thing. But another thing is that all of these things feel good, right? So you're not going to become addicted to something that feels bad. Even people who might get addicted to painful stimuli like getting a tattoo. One of the things that happens is you get a release of opiates as a natural painkiller and so people can become addicted to other things that might not necessarily feel good, but in the brain it feels good. And one of the things that happens in the brain is you have a release of dopamine. I mean, there's many neurotransmitters that get released, but dopamine there's a dopamine reward pathway that has been conserved through hundreds of millions of years to allow us to survive. Right. So when we eat, when we're hungry, when we drink water, when we thirsty, when we have sex, when we're horny, right. When we listen to music, all of these things naturally release dopamine and in this pathway. And so the brain thinks that it now needs it for survival. And we do need sugar for survival. Our brain needs sugar. We just need to make sure that it's a good quality sugar and in the right balance. Right. And so that's not my area of expertise. However, these are things that our bodies need in certain levels and to be able to function. And so that's why when you consume them, they feel good. So now let's take a drug, cocaine. I said that before as an example. 

[00:21:17] Hayley 

That chemical itself also releases dopamine. So it feels good and it's tapping into that same reward pathway. And it's almost as if the brain is hijacked to now think it needs that for survival. So if it's procrastinating, it's whatever it is that you did, if it released dopamine in that reward pathway, now the brain thinks that it needs it for survival. And so that's why some people can it can become that much more challenging to break habits when your nervous system is set up to keep you alive. And here you're taking something that it 

thinks it needs to survive and you're saying, nope, I'm not going to do that anymore. Instead, I'm going to eat broccoli all day or whatever it is, and it can be a big transition and it can really kind of shock your system both mentally as well as physiologically. You can have a lot of withdrawal symptoms and it can be that much harder. So baby steps. And if you're going from something that releases a lot of dopamine and you're trying to do something that might not give yourself those little dopamine hits, right? Take baby steps, reward yourself. When you do, you wake up 5 minutes earlier and maybe you didn't work out, but you woke up 5 minutes earlier and then the next day you're going to wake up 5 minutes earlier than that, and eventually you're going to have more time in your day to start working out. And so reward yourself for those little things. And that's going to help keep you going to keep you motivated to continue on your journey of health. 

[00:22:47] Rebecca 

So obviously that all revolves around learning healthy coping mechanisms. So the things that you do that do become habits are good, but that also plays into your emotional health and your mental health. Now, when we say these terms, what do they mean? Because a lot of people think, oh, it's self care, you know, it's the bubble bath with the aromatherapy, and that's it. That's my mental health, that's my self-care. You know, I'm good, but it's so much more than that. So what? When we think about these terms, like, what do they really mean?

[00:23:16] Hayley 

Yeah. So I mean, self care. I mean, it has to be a very individualized definition. So for some people it is taking that bubble bath or going on the spa day. I mean, I love doing those things. It feels good. I feel rested and relaxed and rejuvenated. But you know what else I do every single morning? I have a green a green drink that so because I know that sometimes I'm so busy that I don't necessarily have enough time to have a good healthy salad with some fresh salmon or something like that. So I know that every single morning I have a bunch of fruits and veggies that are healthy and I have my probiotics and I have it in my little smoothie and I drink it. And then it's just something that I do for myself that makes me feel good. And it's both mentally and physically good for me. And so that's for me. But for somebody else, it might be meditating or riding a bike or reading a book or whatever it is that's going to help you recenter and ground yourself is so important to make that a priority in your life. And it's so hard, especially for young parents. You know, this is something that I still to this day find very challenging, is to put myself first, sometimes before my kids and their needs. But I know that if I don't, they're just getting what's left of me instead of the best of me. So I would rather take those ten, 15 minutes every single day and say, okay, hold on, guys, I'll get to you in a minute. And they're going to be annoyed and and upset with me for those 10 to 15 minutes, I'm going to do whatever I need to do to recenter myself so that when I am with them, I'm fully present instead of just going and doing whatever they need. 

[00:24:48] Hayley 

And then the whole day I'm thinking about what I should have done earlier in that morning that would have taken 10 minutes. But, you know, now, the whole day, I'm not giving my full attention and my full focus to my kids or whatever my job or whatever it is. If I just took that little bit of time, then I would be more present for everybody else who needs me and wants me in to do something for them. So I think it's really important to have self care. And another form of self care is setting your own boundaries and being able to say no and being okay with saying no. You can't say yes to everything. You can try, but eventually you're going to wear yourself too thin and then you don't want to have that happen. And you can see that there is a direct correlation with people who really do practice self care and their mental wellness and well being that if you are taking care and thinking and being mindful of what you are consuming, and I'm not just talking about the foods that you're putting in your mouth, but consuming with all of your senses that there is a correlation with mental wellness and mental well-being. And yes, emotions play a huge role in it, but there's also a biological component to it. There's so many different components to mental health and really keeping that in check. And it's so, so important because as I mentioned before, your brain controls everything. So if it's not functioning optimally, then all of these other aspects of your health and your life are going to also start suffering. 

[00:26:19] Rebecca 

So when people just feel like they're under so much stress and so much pressure right now, and they're like, Well, now you're telling me to find time to start taking care of like of that, like things that I like. What's that mindset shift that you recommend for someone who is just so overwhelmed, so stressed? They don't even know how they can even find that time to practice that self care. 

[00:26:41] Hayley 

I've been there. It's really, really hard and it's one of those things where a lot of it is just your thoughts right there is you think that you don't have the time or the energy, but in actuality, if you started doing those things, you would have more time and you would have more energy. And it's kind of that conundrum of what are the words that you're telling yourself and what is reality. And so people do, especially in the beginning. I mean, that's why psychologists and social workers and life coaches and wellness coaches and doctors, they're there. They have jobs because they help people see that. They help people see that sometimes their thoughts are not necessarily in line with reality. And so when you start with some of these practices and it can be very, very small, it can just be I'm just going to change the word I have to write instead of saying, Oh, I have to go to work today, change it to I get to go to work today. Right. Very, very simple, very minor. Just do these little it's called habit stacking. You start changing the words that you use, the things that you. 

[00:27:46] Hayley 

In very small amounts that eventually over time, if you keep stacking them on top of each other, you've made really great large strides towards your mental health without really putting in that much extra effort. If every day you're doing just something very minor and just being more aware and mindful of it, then it becomes that much easier down the road. So it is very, very challenging and that's why I always advocate for people to find somebody that they can talk to. Maybe it's their pastor or their next door neighbor or their friend from high school that they haven't talked to in years. You know, give them a call and say, Hey, remember that really happy person that I used to be? I want to find her again. What would remind me, what are some of my best qualities? Right, and have people tell you these things and then eventually you're going to start believing them and you're going to start realizing that you do have value and worth and it's worth it to put in that extra effort initially, because in the long run it's going to save you a lot of time and anxiety and stress. 

[00:28:45] Rebecca 

You have been an awesome resource and so much knowledge, but if there was one key aspect that you want the audience to come away with or something that they can practice for themselves right after they listen to this, what would that be?

[00:28:58] Hayley 

I always like to remind people that everything that we encounter in our life flows through a psychological filter, right? So if you're listening to this podcast right now or if you have a really let's say you have a tough task that you have to complete at work or at home or whatever it is. Right. You have the power to set the trajectory. Is this going to be a threat or is this going to be a challenge? It's a stressor. Either way, stressors can be good or bad, but how you view it is the impetus for the rest of it, right? So if you look at it as a threat, then you're going to activate your stress response system. It's automatic. Remember how I said we have our central nervous system and then we have our peripheral nervous system that has a portion of it that is just automatic and unconscious control. We don't really have control over it. Once that is triggered. And these the circuitry in our brain and throughout our nervous system is activated, there's going to be a flow of chemicals that are released. You're going to start experiencing some of these side effects of the stress response. But if you view that exact same stressor as a challenge instead of as a threat, then now a different set of neuroplasticity, neural networks are going to be activated and you're going to be more aroused and focused, and you're going to look at it like, Okay, well, what are all my resources? Who can I call to help me? What can I do to make this successful? So you have two options there. 

[00:30:21] Hayley 

One is to be very anxious and fearful, and the other is to be really aroused and focused. And we all, every single one of us has that power to be able to change the way that we think. But as we just mentioned, some people naturally comes more towards leaning towards that. Everything's a threat instead of a challenge. Right. And so that's where working with somebody I'm a big proponent of working with life coaches, as I mentioned, or psychologists and people who can help you change your thoughts because that in turn is going to change your actions and your thoughts going forward. So and because our brains are so plastic, knowing that they can actually change and these can become habits that are relatively permanent. Right. You can just they become automated over time. And so eventually, instead of having that initial automatic thought be a negative pessimistic one, now it can be one filled with gratitude or optimism or hope. I just had this situation just the other day happened to me where if it had happened a year or two ago, it would have been a completely different story. But through working on gratitude, journaling every single night before bed when I dropped my youngest, I have a four year old when I dropped him off at school and they told me this is just a couple of weeks ago that he had to go back home because there was a COVID exposure in the classroom two years ago. 

[00:31:48] Hayley 

A year ago, I would have panicked, I would have freaked out. I would have looked at that as a threat. But the very first automatic thought that came to me was gratitude. When this happened, I said, I am so grateful that I have a career and a job that is flexible, that I can work from home while he has to quarantine at home. And that was the initial thought. And I remember when that happened, I said to myself, Wow, like I have definitely shown some improvement and it really did not take that much effort. And it was just through that repetition that I was able to create these automatic pathways that now when adversity comes my way and of course, I'm going to have moments of freaking out, obviously, right? But hopefully these pathways through that repetition, they become the stronger ones. And then I can live my life full of gratitude and optimism and things like that, instead of fear and threats coming my way, how I evaluate them. So I think that would be the big take home message is that we do. All have the power to grow and change. And it's just these little tasks over time can make a huge, huge impact. So don't give up and definitely reach out to people to help support you. And of course, I'm always available for your listeners and for yourself as well. If you ever have any questions, I'm happy to speak and chat with people as well. 

[00:33:06] Rebecca 

Yes. If you can let everyone know where they can reach out to you, your website or any way they can work with you too. That would be great. 

[00:33:12] Hayley 

Awesome. Yeah. So I'm excited. I'm just launching my Academy of Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience and really I focus primarily on life and health coaches who work with other people. So it's really teaching them about the brain and neuroscience and really going into the science. I kind of am like a bridge between the really hard core science and the average everyday person to be able to make neuroscience approachable. So through a series of modules, they'll get a certificate program, and so that's available. That's one way people can work with me if that is that fits your your lifestyle. But also I do offer individual and group consulting and speaking services as well. And so you can find me and reach out through Academy of Neuro or be well with Dr. Haley. And that's I know the last one is harder it's hey why why? There's two whys in my name, but Academy of Neuro is probably the easiest way to reach out and get in contact with me. And I do have some free resources on my website as well. I actually have a free course on the neuroscience of stress. For anybody who's interested in grabbing that, you're welcome to it. And I have a glossary of drugs of abuse and what they are, some common commonly abused drugs and just a little blurb glossary of terms on what they are, because there's so many different drugs out there that there's new ones every day. And I literally went through it's called the ABCs of Drugs. It was really fun to put together every single letter of the alphabet I found a drug to describe in there. So it's just one drug representing each letter of the alphabet, but that's also a free resource for people. So feel free. Go to my website. So Academy of Neuro, you can reach out to me there. I'm also on social media, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Clubhouse. If anyone's on clubhouse, I'm active on there. My handle is at B well with Dr. Hailey and on clubhouse I am at Dr. Period. Hailey. 

[00:35:11] Rebecca 

Awesome. We all have all that in the show notes. Thank you so much for coming on, Dr. Hailey. 

[00:35:15] Hayley 

Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. Have a great day.

[00:35:20] Rebecca 

Thank you for tuning in to another episode of the Sugar Solved podcast. As always, if you like what you hear. Share it with a friend. Leave a rating and review on your favorite podcast player and tune in next week for another episode of the Sugar Solved podcast, where we demystify health and nutrition. One gram of sugar at a time.