A Magical Life: Health, Wealth, and Weight Loss

How Conflict and Emotions Effect the Brain and Body with Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider

January 24, 2024 Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider Season 1 Episode 241
A Magical Life: Health, Wealth, and Weight Loss
How Conflict and Emotions Effect the Brain and Body with Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider
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Show Notes Transcript

In this episode I'll visit with Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider, a neuropsychology expert and author of the book 'Frazzled Brain', about the role of the mind in our physical, emotional and spiritual health. Dr. Gina explains how our imagination shapes our physiology and emphasizes the importance of focusing our thoughts in a positive direction and intentional behavior. She discusses techniques for managing stress, anxiety, and anger, giving practical tips such as smiling at strangers and small acts of kindness.

Also, she details nature's impact on boosting immune systems and increasing our overall happiness. Additionally, she delves into her book, which is centered on the impact of our thoughts and behaviors on our experiences. She also offers resources free tips and advice her website and a new assessment tool which will be soon available on her site.

Connect with Dr. Gina at her website: https://frazzlebrain.com/

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Online: https://wholisticnaturalhealth.com.au
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Magic Barclay:

Welcome back to a magical life. I'm your host, Magic Markley. And today Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider joins us. She's the author of frazzled brain break free from anxiety, anger, and stress using advanced discoveries in neuropsychology. She is a licensed psychotherapist, executive coach and corporate trainer, and she serves as co director of Schneider Counseling and Corporate Solutions. Dr. Gina is a coping skills expert with more than 25 years of experience helping people regulate difficult emotions and conflicts. She is certified in neuroscience for clinicians through P. E. S. I. and critical incident stress debriefing through National Trauma Services. Gina has been quoted in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times. And the San Diego union tribune Lawrence Knight interviewed her for the BBC world service program, how to be angry. Dr. Gina blogs for psychology today and writes the award winning manage anger daily blog. She has blogged. For Forbes and Women in Crime Inc, which the Wall Street Journal named a blog worth reading. Dr. Gina provides training for Fortune 500 companies and other organizations online and throughout the San Diego County. Welcome.

Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider:

Thank you so much, Magic. I'm excited to be on your show and talk to. You from the other side of the world.

Magic Barclay:

And I'm excited to have you here. I've really been looking forward to this podcast because in my own work, I work with the PNEI of trauma and I see what emotions can do to the body. And so I've really been looking forward to having this chat with you. So what we're going to do is jump straight into our standard three questions. Everyone gives us a different answer and. I'm really excited about what you're going to say. So here is the first one. What can your expertise do to accelerate health, not just physical, but also emotional and spiritual health?

Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider:

It's interesting what I've discovered in the research that I've been diving into, how powerful our imagination is. And how much our mind and the way we think shapes our physiology. It shapes our hormones, our reaction to stress in the environment. So I think it's really important to cultivate the ability to generate happy thoughts, to generate happy images, images that excite and inspire you. Goals That make you excited to get up in the morning. It starts with the mind and a lot of times when we're feeling, ill or burnout or You know stressed or at our wits end and we we forget that we have this really powerful mind that can Take us to a different place in our imagination, and we can do that instantly. A lot of times we think, you know, we need, month off of work just to recover from stress, or we feel like we need some massive intervention from a therapist or medication to just feel better. And. What the studies are showing is that if you can activate your imagination in vivid detail in the direction of things that make you inspired and happy and, and, uh, and, and, and experiencing some, some level of delight. That that changes us, on a physiological level. Our beliefs change us on a physiological level. So it's, it starts with the mind. I would really play around with how we're defining what we're going through. Because the story we're telling ourselves is also, shaping our physiological reaction. So, you know, I got off the phone with someone who was saying, you know, I feel like my brain is going to explode from my stress. Well, no, my brain doesn't explode from stress, you know. However, Why imagine that? Why not imagine? I can calm down. I can imagine that I'm on a beach in a beautiful setting, you know, and, and I'm, I'm enjoying watching dolphins play. I can imagine something else. Other than my brain exploding. Um, so I think I would really work first with the power of your own mind. And it's, it's, it's actually really, really astounding how powerful it is. And I think we all underestimate how powerful it is. Agreed.

Magic Barclay:

And I think our languaging around our brain is, Not self serving at all. That whole, I think my brain's going to explode. I mean, that could be rephrased as, wow, that conversation opened so many loops in my brain. I'm so grateful for this in depth exploration or more knowledge. I know we don't say things like that to ourselves, but we really do need to start making that normal.

Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider:

Yes. And how we. Welcome our suffering. You know, we can, we can fight our suffering. Suffering is part of the human condition, right? we're going to suffer at some point, you know, all the time. and so we can either, we can either battle that and, and then exaggerate it and magnify it and amplify it with the language we're using to describe it. or we can welcome it and go, what is this here to teach me? Is this pain in my gut teaching me that I maybe need to look at what I'm eating or go to the doctor and see if there's, you know, something that needs to be treated? What is the signal, you know, my body is telling me and, how can I welcome that signal? As, you know, a sign that I can do something about, about my life, I can do something to improve the conditions of my life. So I've been really, really, doing this with myself going, well, why, why am I assuming this fact about this thing I'm suffering about, you know, let me challenge that assumption because that assumption is just making me upset, you know, and it's not necessarily true. So our assumptions often get us, really thrown off track, you know, like the assumption that somebody was trying to hurt our feelings when they made a nasty comment. Not necessarily the case, right? But that assumption magnifies our suffering. Now we have the hurtful comment that hurt our feelings and we have the further hurt of assuming the person did that on purpose. So now we don't have just a misunderstanding or we have some hurt feelings that might be resolvable. Now we have somebody we have to really be worried about because they're trying to hurt us. So those kinds of assumptions, Are really, really where we can get into a lot of trouble in our, internal body, but also with our relationships with people. Couldn't agree

Magic Barclay:

more. Now our next question is around wealth. People think wealth is just the financial, but it can be your personal and emotional wealth as well. So what are your top three tips to creating wealth?

Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider:

Well, not surprisingly. I am on this kick now with all the research I'm doing to not limit my imagination in terms of what is possible. And that includes wealth, includes wealth, health, aging, the whole, the whole thing. So if, if you're thinking about wealth. It's important to set goals that scare you a little bit and excite you and are big, big, big, big goals. the reason is that I think most of us really underestimate what we're capable of. we limit our imagination to what we deem as realistic, but we, most of us are not really qualified to know what's realistic. Realistic is just what the common person would assume. It doesn't mean that, that it's the truth or there's this, this rule book in the sky that says, this is real, this isn't real, you know, so if we have a goal that really excites us in terms of wealth, building wealth. make sure it's a, it's one that's really exciting and a little bit scary and, and, and worthy of your efforts. you know, because I think most of the time if we have a goal and we develop a plan to that goal. We will achieve it. So I hear from a lot of people. well, the famous, playwright George Bernard Shaw says the two worst things in life are one never getting your heart's desire and two getting your heart's desire because after we achieve our goals and we get what we desire. We need another goal, you know, so, so it is good, I think, to continue to see setting goals for your wealth, setting goals for your health, make them big, you know, my, my friend, um, decided she wanted to live to 100, you know, that, that's her goal. So she lives her life, with this idea that That's how long she's going to live, at least to a hundred, you know, and, um, I thought, well, that's interesting, you know, why not, you know, why not dream of, living that long and being healthy. Of course, that's part of her dream is to be healthy and, and, um, have, have a full rich life. So, so I think dream big and set goals that are a little scary because they're so. And, and then of course, you know, if you pick your top one and you make a plan and then you work that plan, you're going to get somewhere, you're going to get somewhere beyond where you are today. And likely I will achieve that goal. And then the other thing I think is extremely important is to recruit helpers, you know, recruit. Other people who are maybe experts, it's, it's so amazing to me how many people I meet who say they, they, they worry about money, they stress about money, and they have never consulted a financial expert. They have never sat down with financial planner said, help me, you know, help me get out of debt. Help me, uh, manage my money better. Help me invest, help me figure out if I'm on the right track in terms of buying a house or whatever the goals are that you have and. And so. You know, these people are experts for a reason. They study this, they study this and know about it all the time. So consulting with financial experts is helpful. uh, if you want to have your own business, you know, consult with a business coach, people who've helped people develop lots of businesses. You know, one of the dreams I had in my life was, you know, writing a book and publishing a book, and I'm a big consumer of and so I hired a writing coach because I'd been writing for many, many years thinking, I'm just going to write a book. Well, you need a, I got a writing team that, you know, we all share each other's writing and we read and critique each other's work and are, all getting better and we're becoming much better writers every, as each passing year goes by. Why? Because we're getting help. So get help. Don't be afraid to ask for help. I think a, A lot of people are afraid of that, especially Americans. I think it's a very American thing to think like we're these big individuals and we're going to just do it all by ourselves. And you know, there isn't anybody that accomplished anything big all by themselves. You know, it's, it's always been, the people that came before you or the people are helping you along the way, or the people that are giving you ideas and inspiration, or the people that wrote the books that taught you how to do what you know how to do. it takes a team. So don't be afraid to set big goals that scare you a bit, pick the top one and work and create a plan and work your plan and ask for help from experts and get a team, get a crew around you.

Magic Barclay:

Great tips there. Now, our final standard question is around weight loss. Many people battle with their weight quite needlessly. And what we see is not only comparisons they make to other people and think, well, that person's gorgeous. They've never had my problem, but also the stress that your weight can put on your mind. So have you ever battled your weight? If so. How did you win the war? And how can you help the listeners who may be on this journey and experiencing this kind of internal trauma?

Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider:

I think that is such a great Question. And I think it's because it plagues people all over the world now. in women in particular, but now we're also seeing a lot of men that are going and getting cosmetic surgery and doing all kinds of extreme procedures, because of body image issues. I think the biggest thing that happened for me, when I was in my 20s, I was on every diet kick there was. I was on the food combination diet, the raw food diet, the vegan vegetarian, don't eat anything, you know, that comes out of a box diet. I, I, would go on health food kicks. I always felt like I was overweight, um, and I think finally one day I was reading some self help books on, diet and, your attitudes about your weight. And it finally dawned on me that. I was treating myself like an object, not a human being. I was treating myself like I was looking at myself like I was a thing. And that that was really internalizing these patriarchal notions that women are only as good as their appearance. And our Value is how a man would see us determines our value, how a heterosexual man who wants a partner with would value us. and that that is a toxic. Message that isn't in alignment with my values is seeing myself as a spiritual being, as a, uh, a person with a mind and an ambition and a person who's curious and wants to learn and, you know, person that has, uh, loved ones and is loved for something way more than my waistline. and when I got that message, I stopped dieting. And I also realized that dieting, uh, for me, and, and, and now the research sort of points that out, the more you think about food, the more your ghrelin levels go up and you'd feel hungry. So it was really counterproductive. I found out that if I just listened to my body, my body would be hungry and I would eat regular, for me, three meals a day, uh, an occasional snack if I've really, burned a lot of energy doing extra hiking or something. I sometimes need an extra snack, but I, I just listened to my body. I only weigh myself when I go to the doctor, and my weight has remained stable and I'm, you know, well into, my sixth decade. So, and everybody said, Oh, menopause, you know, you're going to gain a bunch of weight and menopause. Well, I didn't, you know, why? Well, I think I just listened to my body and was mindful about. You know, being active and eating healthy food that, that tastes good and getting off the diet treadmill and, just accepting also my body for what it is instead of evaluating my body parts as if they were objects on a doll. And I do think, um, I also changed as almost a political statement, uh, how I talk with women. Uh, my women friends, I, I shut down discussions about weight, weight loss, waistlines. I just say, you know, let's not talk about that, it's, it's beneath us, there's so much more that's interesting for us to talk about, you know, you're all interesting women, I don't really care what you weigh, I don't really want to know, um, and I think we're just doing ourselves a disservice, we're going to have a lot more fun if we're not talking about body insecurities all the time. and I think what I do that almost for political reason because I think women, I know so many brilliant women. I mean, just amazing people doing amazing things. That's so much more interesting to me than whether you had a half a grapefruit for breakfast, you know. and so I, I think that we need to rise into our full power as women. And we can't do that if we're treating ourselves like objects. if we're treating ourselves like we're things, uh, instead of human beings that have, you know, all kinds of stuff that's way more interesting to talk about. So since I started doing that, you know, at first, you know, I'd get pushback. Well, I didn't know you were like that. I didn't, you know, you were sensitive, you know, and I'm saying it's not, it's not that I'm sensitive, it's that, you know, you're so much more interesting, you know, and, and let's talk about literature. Let's talk about, you know, anything else. Um, so that, that's my approach. It's not for everyone, but I found that it totally got me off the diet treadmill. My weight's been stable. Pregnancies got back down, didn't try to diet, just got back to being active and trying to, you know, keep a nutritious diet. Um, and, uh, and that worked for me. It's not going to work for everybody, but it helped me.

Magic Barclay:

Excellent input there. Now let's talk about Frazzle Brain. Tell me, where did this name for this book come up from? And what is it about? What can people expect to see or read in Frazzle Brain?

Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider:

Well, it's fun because, uh, the word frazzled brain actually was a happy accident in my writing group. my original title of the book was Heal Your Frazzled Brain because the go to word for everybody, I think, has been frazzled. People keep saying I feel frazzled. I just feel at the end of my rope, feel stressed, angry, irritated, anxious, worried about I all kinds of stuff, health, what's going on with wealth, you know, the lack of it. so in my writing group, we were talking about, you know, heal your frazzled brain. And one of the women in the writing group said, so how's it going with frazzled brain? And she just shortened it. And I went, Eureka, that is the title. That is so bad, so much better than my title. And, what it. Does intuitively, I think when people hear the word frazzled brain, they kind of know what that is intuitively that it's this mixture of feeling, uh, agitated, worried, stressed out. A little bit irritable, and maybe also some feeling of fatigue or burnout, and then it does affect your brain. Sometimes you get headaches, right? Sometimes you have symptoms of feeling, low concentration, like it's hard to focus, uh, cause there's so much going on, you know? So that is kind of a term that I use to describe this condition where most of us have emotions that come at us. lots of emotions come at us because life comes at us in complicated ways. So we can be feeling. Lots of different things at the same time, uh, and anxiety, anger, and stress tend to go together. And so, uh, when I was digging into the literature, I realized that that also has effects in our neuropsychology. It has effects in our, the way our gut functions and so on and so forth. So when I got into writing the book, I divided into three different parts. Uh, the first is really looking at focused thoughts. It's back to that idea of your imagination, focusing your thoughts in a direction that you want to go. and so I give people a little frazzled hacks or little strategies that are really easy to use so that you can help yourself focus on the things that are going to be more uplifting and be more help, uh, helpful to you in terms of calming and, creating a more positive emotions. the second part of the book, is on intentional behaviors. So you have your focus thoughts and then you have intentional things that you do with your behavior that the research shows. Help us feel better, help us relax, help our body calm itself. So some of those intentional behaviors can be like acts of kindness, for example. Uh, we know that being helpful to other people, uplifts our spirits. We also know that just thinking about something we could do that's uplifting for a friend or a loved one. Can uplift us, we get calming, chemicals going through our brain and body when we are thinking about how to make the people around us feel happy, uh, planning a birthday party or a baby shower for a friend, something like that. but sometimes even just little small, tiny acts of kindness. Like offering to have somebody go in front of you at the grocery store or, they create a ripple effect. And they make us feel safer in our environment. They make us feel safer in our communities. And, that feeling of safety is something we generate with our own behavior. The way we treat other people, the way we treat strangers. So I look at just smiling at other people randomly. I look at, you know, all the little, little things that we can do. And it, it, it uplifts me. And it makes me feel like I'm creating the influence. I'm creating the world that I want to create. And then the last part is, there's, there's a whole bunch of different tips. I'm just giving you a few, but, the last part is healing experiences, the last section and healing experiences. the reason why I picked that is when I was digging into the neuropsychology research, when we look at trauma, When people have been through really, uh, life threatening experience or something really, shatters your sense of normal, you've been through something like that, the amygdala and the hippocampus of the brain are, are impacted, and if you've ever experienced repeated traumas, uh, it's impacted even more, such as people who've been in wars and have seen the horrors of war. And the way the brain recovers from that is from new experiences. our amygdala and hippocampus don't really listen to positive thoughts or, you can't really think your way out of a trauma. But what you can do is you can incorporate that trauma into a life that's meaningful with new experiences that can heal. And so we know that experiences in nature of awe and wonder have a very healing effect on the body. Uh, I know you've got the, all these nature images behind you, but, being in a forest for two hours, just being in a forest for a couple of hours, you don't even have to be hiking. You can just be sitting there. It has about 30 day antidepressant effect, because of the phytochemicals and, the chemicals from the soil, that we're breathing, uh, have a natural antidepressant effects. So healing experiences also like the healing experiences of a, of a quality relationship with a close friend. Or a loved one, focusing on our, our, the healing experience of love. so there's a, several different experiences I talk about that we can intentionally create in our lives that can help us recover from any trauma we've been through. and that is because new experiences overlay. the trauma and teach us something new and then the brain responds to that new experience and helps us to heal.

Magic Barclay:

And you mentioned forest bathing just before about, you know, being out in nature, several studies have been completed that. Suggest that 30 minutes of forest bathing, whether you're hiking or just sitting there, enjoying it, you're actually breathing in the essential oils released and you're building your immune system, particularly natural killer cells, which are part of your innate immune system. And. And your T cells, yeah. And so you are really enforcing a physical health as well as a mental health by doing that.

Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider:

Exactly. The immune system is boosted, and that also, when the immune system is boosted, that can counteract the negative effects of, The burnout and, the feeling, uh, the, the threats to our immune system that come from severe stresses and traumas. So it has, it has counteractive effects. So that, that healing experience of just going into a forest. Um, we also know there's, there's healing, um, benefits from blue spaces to being by the ocean rivers, lakes, streams. that blue spaces also have that sort of calming effect, on the, uh, nervous system. Also, helps the immune system. It helps our gut functioning, which also helps the immune system. So it's, it's all interactive. And the, and the thing about the brain is that, you know, if something can delight our brain, It is connected to every organ system in our, in our body through the vagus nerve, you know, so so we are impacting our entire body by just generating small little moments of, and in fact there's a study, um, Barbara Fredrickson I think did a, did a really cool study on just mild joy and contentment, just the mild joy of a great cup of tea, you know, on a Back porch, you know, just a little moment. Yes. There you go. I'm going to ask you what kind of tea you're drinking.

Magic Barclay:

so for the listeners, I just held up my teacup and that is actually an Australian bush detox. So it's got lemon myrtle. It's got some, wild berry in there and it's. Yummy. Sorry, had to interrupt with my tea

Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider:

joke. It sounds, it sounds amazing. Yeah, tea, just a comforting cup of tea. I mean, we do know there's a lot of antioxidants and, and good stuff for, uh, in, in green teas and other teas, but just the mild joy and contentment you would get from just a few moments of peace. actually we know that it physiologically counteracts the negative effects of any stress we've been through. So we can intentionally generate that. And, and on a daily basis, you know, having, having a cup of tea on a daily basis, taking a little tea break or. Just to taking a little walk, putting our feet up on, on the sofa and reading a magazine that delights us. so there are many different moments that we can intentionally create that purposefully counteract, or that can intentionally counteract the negative effects of the stresses that we experience. And we need to do those on our daily, regular basis. Because otherwise, if we're neglecting or denying our own, feelings and our own needs, then that's how we can kind of get a buildup of these symptoms that can lead to some, some diseases that we don't want. Now, we just

Magic Barclay:

want to backtrack a little bit. You mentioned smiling. And You know, I'm not going to say what the world's been going through, but we're coming out of a pretty crazy time. And one of the things that was taken away from humanity was a smile. So, you know, with all the measures that were put into place, that's all I'm saying. Listeners, we lost that connection of when you walk past a stranger. And you just give them a smile. And I'm sure we've all been in that moment where someone smiled at us. We don't know them from Adam and you know, we get this warm sensation. We get this light feeling and it's like someone pulls the corners of our mouth up and we smile back. It's an unwritten rule that your brain will respond with happiness. So how do you suggest people enact smiling at strangers without being creepy?

Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider:

Well, you know, I think, I think one of the things that was interesting is, um, I have a lot of school teachers in my family and, they had to teach children who were masked and they had to meet children for a whole year. Where everybody was masked and they hadn't seen everybody's face. and what they found, and the children were able to do this, the children were actually able to see the smile in the eyes. And that even though your mouth was covered, that you can communicate warmth in many other ways. We can communicate it with our eyes twinkling. We can communicate it with a, a hand gesture and a wave. and so, I still, when I'm in public places, I still wear a mask because I'm, you know, not interested in, in getting sick if I can help it. and I find that I, I smile and people who are unmasked will smile back. They'll notice that I'm smiling with my eyes or I'll wave and there is this sense of connection. And I think that's what all of us. Yearn for is we want to be seen and we want to feel safe. And so when we notice someone, who's walking by us, well, some people are in a hurry and they're not interested in. Any kind of human connection. Other people might look at us and you can make eye contact and, and you can smile masked or not. And it's communicated. there's a sense of safety that's communicated there. There's a sense of you see me and I see you and you're communicating a basic level of kindness. And so I think that that isn't creepy, unless maybe, I guess there are certain contexts where someone, you know, smiling at your teenage daughter or something would be a little creepy. but I do think that for the most part, being seen feeling and noticing others and looking at how our body language communicates safety. is contributing to our community in a positive way, and it doesn't cost us anything. And it's usually pretty easy. Now, sometimes we're in a hurry. We're the one in a hurry. We don't have time, you know, and that's okay. but I, I do think most people do not. interpret that as a creepy thing, unless it's followed up with some kind of creepy behavior.

Magic Barclay:

Cool, let's not be creepy people. I agree. But just smile at people, please. Now, Gina, we love freebies here. And. We always ask the guests, come on, please have a freebie for the listeners. So what can you offer the listeners and where can they find it?

Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider:

Well, one of the things I do is a lot of free writing. So I write articles on psychology today that offer. More in depth things than I've talked about here. so you can look at the frazzled brain on psychology today and, and read my articles there. Also, on my website, frazzledbrain. com. you can have a link to my, uh, managing your daily blog and I have all kinds of interesting interviews and tips. and, uh, uh, that's all. Free free writing for you. Um, I'm on the process of creating a free assessment that will be on my frazzlebrain. com. site, but it isn't up yet. and it'll be a nice, uh, how frazzled are you assessment so you can kind of see where you are. and it can give you a little few tips on how to. Unfrazzle yourself and feel a little better. so it's not up yet, but if you subscribe to myfrazzlebrain. com, website, you'll, you'll be able to get it.

Magic Barclay:

Brilliant. Listeners, this was your episode 241 with Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider. Gina, thank you so much for your time. I've really enjoyed this chat and I'm sure the listeners have gotten a lot out of it also.

Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider:

Thank you so much, Magic. It's been a pleasure.

Magic Barclay:

My pleasure and listeners, don't forget to leave us a review, reach out, let us know who you want us to talk to, who you want us to ask those questions of, because this is your podcast and for now, listeners, thank you for your time, go forth and create your magical life.