Today our expert guest is Sarah McKay, a neuroscientist and science communicator who specializes in translating brain science research into simple, actionable strategies for peak performance, creativity, health, and wellbeing. She sums up her research with three words: Nature, Nurture, and Neuroplasticity. She also authored the popular science book “The Women’s Brain Book: The Neuroscience of Health, Hormones, and Happiness,” which explores women’s health “from womb to tomb” through the lens of neurobiology.
After her first year of university, she read the classic book “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” by Oliver Sacks and, from that moment, became gripped by the idea of brain science. She switched universities to start studying neuroscience, and she discovered it to be a rich and diverse subject. She had a clear idea of what interested her and she followed through with it.
Sarah is an expert on mind and body health, and she believes in approaching brain health from three different dimensions:
- From the bottom up: how can we nurture our body and biology to keep our brains happy and healthy?
- From the outside in: The outside world is fundamental to who we are and how our brain has evolved.
- From the top down: Our mindset, our thoughts, and our emotional regulation.
She recommends starting from the bottom up: focus on sleep (one of your innate superpowers), get your nutrition in check, and make sure you are moving your bodies regularly. This reminds us that we have agency and that we have choices in how we move. If you get these things down, you will have a really solid foundation for your brain health.
From the outside in is all about connecting to nature. We are meant to be natural creatures and spend time outside. We are also social creatures, and we need other people and community to nurture our mental health.
The hardest one to manage is the top down approach to brain health: What can we do to promote our brain health when looking at our thoughts, our mindset, and our emotions? Our brains need intellectual stimulation and growth. We need to look at how we can remain cognitively challenged throughout our lifespan.
With everything that’s going on in the world, we need to be thinking about our mental health more than ever. These tips will help you approach it from three directions to optimize your brain for happiness and performance.
The Biggest Helping: Today’s Most Important Takeaway
“Without even one good night’s sleep, everything else starts to fall apart. It’s harder to exercise, it’s harder to be emotionally regulated, it’s harder to connect socially, we’re not going to eat as well, we’re not going to want to run or connect with the world. Finding ways to honor the fact that we are these biological organisms that evolved to function best in a light dark cycle, that’s the best way we can help ourselves. And it’s a lovely way to pass time.”
Thank you for joining us on The Daily Helping with Dr. Shuster. Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Google Play to download more food for the brain, knowledge from the experts, and tools to win at life.
- Instagram: @drsarahmckay
- Read: “The Women’s Brain Book”
- Read: “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”
The Daily Helping is produced by Crate Media