Ep 4: Understanding The Brain

Improve your understanding of the brain by listening to Oxford University-educated Neuroscientist Dr Sarah McKay in this fascinating episode. Understanding the brain doesn’t have to be confusing. Whether you’re a teacher, parent or big-hearted human, our complex brains share similar, predictable qualities that we can learn from to enhance our brain health and brain function.

So what’s this episode really about?

  • The brain is complex, but our conversation about it doesn’t have to be. Dr Sarah McKay explains how the brain works, how it has evolved, along with the most recent thinking in the field of neurobiology.
  • We discuss an easy to understand Brain Model we can use to help us understand why ourselves and others behave in certain ways. The Brain Model includes three elements: bottom-up, outside-in, and top-down.
  • We dive into the effects of stress and uncertainty on the brain and share practical strategies we can all use to keep us functioning well, despite the challenges we face.

Why you should listen 

If you’re like us, these last few years have probably felt confusing and unpredictable. Perhaps you’ve acted in ways that have surprised or concerned you. You’re not alone. In this episode, we talk about how the brain works, why it’s completely normal to be experiencing what you’re feeling, and what you can do to boost your brain health for better wellbeing.

Links from this episode

Dr Sarah McKayInstagram and Facebook

The Women’s Brain Book

The Emotions Wheel

The Positive Lexicography

Actionable Skills

  • You can build your tolerance to stress. The way to do this is to introduce activities into your day that you have control over. (1) Create a structured diary for the day with a task list, (2) re-watch movies or TV shows you already know the ending to, or (3) choose a familiar walking path in your neighbourhood and walk the same route daily.
  • A brain without sleep is not a happy one! Prioritise getting enough sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try watching the sunrise in the morning, or turning off bright lights and digital screens two hours before bedtime, or taking a warm shower before getting into a cold bed.

You can quote us on that…

 “We’re social beings whose brains need interaction with other people.”

Dr Sarah McKay

“I think sleep is perhaps the most underrated human skill.”

Dr Sarah McKay

“Every cell in our body is tightly linked to the rising and setting of the sun. We’ve got a chronological clock that’s ticking in every cell of our body.”

Dr Sarah McKay

Want to learn more?

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Hi, I'm Meg!

B.Phys Ed, M. Ed (Student Wellbeing), CIPP

I’m a teacher with experience working in primary and secondary schools across Australia, and a specialist in the field of wellbeing education and coaching. I founded Open Mind Education in 2013 with a vision of sharing practical, enriching wellbeing education with staff, parents, and broader school communities.

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