This week on Real Talk with Rachael I’m excited to talk with Dr. Caroline Leaf about her new book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess. She is a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist with a Masters and Ph.D. in Communication Pathology and a BSc Logopaedics, specializing in cognitive and metacognitive neuropsychology. Since the early 1980s, she has researched the mind-brain connection, the nature of mental health, and the formation of memory. She was one of the first in her field to study how the brain can change (neuroplasticity) with directed mind input.

Dr. Leaf is also the bestselling author of Switch on Your Brain, Think Learn Succeed, Think and Eat Yourself Smart, and many more. She teaches at academic, medical, and neuroscience conferences, churches, and to various audiences around the world. Dr. Leaf is also involved in the global ECHO movement, which trains physicians worldwide on the mind-brain-body connection, mental health, and how to avoid physician burnout.

Dr. Leaf is currently conducting clinical trials using the 5-step program she developed while in private practice to further demonstrate the effectiveness of mind-directed techniques to help relieve mental ill-health problems such as anxiety, depression, and intrusive thoughts. The primary aim of these trials is to make mental health care more affordable, applicable, and accessible worldwide, and to reduce the stigma around mental health.

Key Points from Our Conversation:

  • The benefit we get from exercise is determined by our mind.
  • The book was inspired by the research Dr. Leaf did to determine out what can actually change when we renew our minds, as well as how that impacts the brain, body, and how we function in life.
  • Mind and brain are separate. Your brain is physical; your mind is your thinking, feeling, and choosing. Your mind produces thoughts in your brain.
  • A neurocycle helps allow you to track thoughts and behaviors.
  • Once we connect with wisdom, we can better observe our behavior then analyze it.
  • Like a tree has branches, thoughts have memories.
  • If you want to find the root, look for warning signals like frustration, irritation, depression, anger. Don’t push them aside – inspect them. Suppressing warning signals causes physical damage to the brain.
  • Analyze your physical symptoms like stomach problems, tension, and rushing adrenaline. Also, check behaviors like non-verbal communication.
  • Mental health is not a disease. The label is leading is mismanagement of health. Misery has become medicalized and treatment is typically symptom-focused, which is great for the body, but not the mind.
  • The quick-fix mentality of symptom treatment has led to suppression.
  • We are wired for love. Negative thoughts physically vibrate incorrectly in the brain and cause inflammation that affects the immune system and how we function.
  • Jesus modeled pushing through and digging into the difficult. There is not a quick fix. The only way out is through. Embrace, process, and reconceptualize.
  • Don’t be scared of depression and anxiety. Instead, see them as helpful messengers.
  • Renewing your mind is a lifestyle.
  • Switch – 21 Day Brain Detox App

Dr. Leaf’s 5 Steps to Reduce Anxiety, Stress, and Toxic Thinking:

  1. Gather awareness – become aware of emotional and physical warning signals
  2. Reflect – ask, answer, and discuss. Get to the core.
  3. Write it down. It helps you get into the depths of why you think this, what you’re doing, and how you feel.
  4. Recheck
  5. Activate mental reach – bringing order out of the chaos

Let’s Get Real Practical:

Let’s get practical by addressing one area of your life that you know God is calling you to take your thoughts captive.
Action steps for this week: Identify what area of your life in which you feel stuck. Ask if your thinking in that area is toxic. Then write down the thought and replace it with the truth.

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Connect with Dr. Caroline Leaf: website | Instagram | Facebook | podcast
Connect with Rachael: website | Instagram | Facebook

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