kai conversations with neuroscientist and mental health expert, dr. caroline leaf
today is world mental health day and we are delighted to introduce our special guest, dr. caroline leaf. a renowned neuroscientist, bestselling author, mental health thought leader, and creator of the world’s first scientifically-tested brain detox app, dr. leaf is dedicated to helping the world manage anxiety, depression, stress, toxic thinking, and other mental health challenges. her unique perspective on the mind-brain connection has helped hundreds of thousands learn how to use their mind to detox and grow their brain to succeed in every area of their lives including school, university, and the workplace. join us as we explore dr. leaf's fascinating journey and top tips for living a life with better mental health.
use code neurocycle20 to enjoy 20% off any subscription on dr. leaf’s brain detox app, neurocycle (web version). click here to activate.
how do you embody kai’s “breath*life*flow” lifestyle?
when life gets hard, and anxiety starts creeping in one of my favorite practices i do to help calm my mind and brain is pausing for 10 seconds and just breathing. this slowing down helps reduce the neurochemical chaos and allow the brain to rebalance. allowing space to stop and breathe every day and often is vital to a happy and peaceful existence. too often we judge ourselves and others for slowing down and just focusing on something simple like breath and rest, yet it is one of the most powerful things we can do for our mental and physical health.
what are your favorite kai products and why?
i love all kai *rose products! especially the body glow and body butter. it smells so wonderful and so many people have complimented me when i use these products.
how did you start your career and what do you do now?
i started my career back in south africa in the 80s working with patients who had severe traumatic brain injuries and other brain injuries. my goal was to help them use their mind to heal their brain using neuroplasticity, which at the time was not seen as viable or a good solution. but overtime my work and research and the work and research of many other amazing neuroscientists proved the power of neuroplasticity to help heal the brain from injuries and to help heal a person suffering from mental health issues. i turned my work and research into a program called neurocycle, which is now in an app that helps people around the world manage anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health struggles. most of my time is spent working on research and trials for this app as well as writing books and hosting my podcast cleaning up the mental mess!
what is something you think everyone should know about mental health?
mental health is not an end journey but a continues decision we make every day. some days will be good and some will be bad, but that doesn’t mean you have a bad life or are regressing. a bad day does not mean a bad life. and it’s ok to be a mess as long as you don’t let that mess define you. also, you can’t change the past and sometimes cannot change your circumstances, but you can change how you respond and react because that is what is built into your brain and becomes physical real structures in your brain. lastly, thoughts are not facts! it’s ok and good to questions your thoughts.
what is your favorite fact about the brain and mind?
most people assume the mind and brain are the same, but they are not. the mind is like software and the brain is the hardware. the mind shapes the brain and you can change the physical structures in your brain with your mind and mind-management. that is why mind-management and how you think is so important!
what are 3 simple ways to effectively manage stress?
first: you have to acknowledge and allow feelings of stress and anxiety without judgement. stress and anxiety do not mean you are bad, they are signals pointing to something deeper and important so acknowledging them without judgment is vital to finding what is deeper. second: get some movement. this can be dancing, walking, exercising, whatever you like! movement helps rebalance the brain and can help distract you temporarily from whatever is causing stress so that the cortisol (the strep hormone) has time to reduce. third: listen to bird songs! there have been numerous studies out about how bird songs and any type of calming nature sounds can help reduce stress in adults, kids and animals.
where can people learn more about your work?
the best place is drleaf.com or find me on instagram @drcarolineleaf and my podcast is available on all podcast platforms including youtube.
what’s something you are excited about right now?
my latest research paper on habit formation just got accepted and will be published soon! i am also excited about how mental health is becoming so much less stigmatized and spoken about so much more. oh, and my first granddaughter who was born a month ago!
what brings you joy?
my family, my dogs, white chocolate, the beach, and my work!
what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
when worrying about something ask yourself “is it true (the thing you are worrying about?” this often helps reign back my fears and helps me realize my worry is often based on assumptions not facts.
what do you feel is your greatest achievement?
my four kids! 3 of them work in the business with me and i absolutely love my family.
do you have a mantra you live by?
be an infinite learner always.
where is your favorite place to vacation?
my home in miami on the beach! or paris.