Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain

Mindfulness Can Change Your Brain

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is---his good, pleasing and perfect will."   
Romans 12:2
The business world is abuzz with mindfulness. But perhaps you haven’t heard that the hype is backed by hard science. Recent research provides strong evidence that practicing non-judgmental, present-moment awareness (a.k.a. mindfulness) changes the brain, and it does so in ways that anyone working in today’s complex business environment, and certainly every leader, should know about.
My friend, Dr. Daniel Amen contributed to this research in 2011 with a study on participants who completed an eight-week mindfulness program. We observed significant increases in the density of their gray matter. In the years since, other neuroscience laboratories from around the world have also investigated ways in which meditation, one key way to practice mindfulness, changes the brain. This year, a team of scientists from the University of British Columbia and the Chemnitz University of Technology were able to pool data from more than 20 studies to determine which areas of the brain are consistently affected. They identified at least eight different regions. Here we will focus on two that we believe to be of particular interest to business professionals.
The first is the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a structure located deep inside the forehead, behind the brain’s frontal lobe. The ACC is associated with self-regulation, meaning the ability to purposefully direct attention and behavior, suppress inappropriate knee-jerk responses, and switch strategies flexibly. People with damage to the ACC show impulsivity and unchecked aggression, and those with impaired connections between this and other brain regions perform poorly on tests of mental flexibility: they hold onto ineffective problem-solving strategies rather than adapting their behavior. Meditators, on the other hand, demonstrate superior performance on tests of self-regulation, resisting distractions and making correct answers more often than non-meditators. They also show more activity in the ACC than non-meditators. In addition to self-regulation, the ACC is associated with learning from past experience to support optimal decision-making. Scientists point out that the ACC may be particularly important in the face of uncertain and fast-changing conditions.

Source: Tang et al.
(Source: Tang et al.)
Source: Fox et al.
(Source: Fox et al.)

The second brain region we want to highlight is the hippocampus, a region that showed increased amounts of gray matter in the brains of our 2011 mindfulness program participants. This seahorse-shaped area is buried inside the temple on each side of the brain and is part of the limbic system, a set of inner structures associated with emotion and memory. It is covered in receptors for the stress hormone cortisol, and studies have shown that it can be damaged by chronic stress, contributing to a harmful spiral in the body. Indeed, people with stress-related disorders like depresssion and PTSD tend to have a smaller hippocampus. All of this points to the importance of this brain area in resilience—another key skill in the current high-demand business world.
Hölzel et al.
(Source: Hölzel et al.)

These findings are just the beginning of the story. Neuroscientists have also shown that practicing mindfulness affects brain areas related to perception, body awareness, pain tolerance, emotion regulation, introspection, complex thinking, and sense of self. While more research is needed to document these changes over time and to understand underlying mechanisms, the converging evidence is compelling.

Mindfulness should no longer be considered a “nice-to-have” for executives. It’s a “must-have”:  a way to keep our brains healthy, to support self-regulation and effective decision-making capabilities, and to protect ourselves from toxic stress. It can be integrated into one’s religious or spiritual life, or practiced as a form of secular mental training.  When we take a seat, take a breath, and commit to being mindful, particularly when we gather with others who are doing the same, we have the potential to be changed.   source

(Thank you Dr. Daniel Amen.  I posted this from something he wrote about)

To contact me:  Donna@DonnaSchuller.com
If you need help with drug or alcohol addiction SchullerHelp.org

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

January 1st "Do Over"

Good news!  It's Spring, it was just Easter, and now it's time to get going on those goals you hoped to achieve this year.  January 1st was almost four months ago but we still have over 8 months left in 2017.  It's never too late to start feeling better, being more productive, showing more love, or just being a better version of YOU.   "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"

Go get your list of 2017 goals and start really pondering them.  Check-off the ones you've succeeded at and tweak or eliminate those that no longer suit the purpose for you life.  It's okay to change your goals.  It's not okay to not have any or to just give them up.  If you haven't written them down at all that's okay too.  Get a pad of paper right now and start recalling what you wanted to accomplish in 2017.   Be specific.  You can do anything you put your mind to.  (and, yes, get a pad of paper and write.  You can transfer them to a  word document later.  Your brain processes things differently if you use actually, physically write as opposed to type)

If you'd like to read another of my posts on Goal Setting here.

If you need any help with goal-setting contact me and I will help you. 

To contact me via email: Donna@DonnaSchuller.com

Need help with drug or alcohol addiction?  Go to SchullerHelp.org


Monday, April 10, 2017

Easter Baskets "on A Dime"

The most important thing you can do for your children and grandchildren this season is 1) to teach them the reason for Easter and Passover 2) To spend quality time with them 3) To pray for them and with them.  

Our son, Pastor Bobby at Gma and Gpa Schuller's Annual Easter Egg Hunt,  circa '86 or '87
 Now that we've got those things out let's talk about having some holiday fun! One of the traditions we've carried-on from my husband's parents is to host an annual Easter Egg Hunt for our grandchildren.  So far, we've only three that are old enough to enjoy this fun event but that's changing every year.   We now have five grandchildren and one more on the way.  By next year our count will be at least six!   Sadly, our daughter, Angie's daughter is in Dallas so she can't participate in our family fun day.  Hopefully some some year!

Here's an important thing I've learned about children.  They do not care how much money you spend on Easter stuff (or anything for that matter)  They do care about how much thought and time you put into it, especially the time you spend with them.  (I've talked about putting your phones away more than once so I want go there right now)   Below is a photo of Haven, taken last year as we dyed Easter Eggs together.  I pick her up at 3pm today so we can carry-on this fun tradition as well.

Bobby's oldest, daughter, Haven.  2016 

 I'm a nutritionist so I don't go for giving my grandchildren candy.  Never.  We adutls are the ones who put it in their minds that candy is an important part of Easter Baskets.   I know from personal experience that it isn't.  If you put in things that last longer like little books, stuffed animals,  and fun games and toys, they don't even ask about the candy.   Here's what I do.   Instead of buying the largest, fanciest baskets I go to Dollar Store or 99 Cent Store and I buy the baskets that cost... you guessed it...a dollar!  At the same time I go through the store and find all kinds of fun things, including some great books, and I fill the basket for each child for about $10 each.  Sometimes I do if for even less if I pick big items such as balls and larger books!

Cohen, Haven, Christian.  All from one of the "Dollar Stores!" 

I have a huge role of cellophane wrap that I also found at one of the "dollar stores" several years ago.  It's amazing how long it lasts!   I also identify each of the children's baskets by using recycled cards that I cut and title with each name.  Hole punch and a bit of thin ribbon (also recycled) and there you go! (notice the pink for Haven and the darker colored basket for the boys)   These baskets were from two years ago so Haven was 5, Cohen was 3, and Christian was only 1. All of the baskets contain age-appropriate items and they were (almost) all loved and played with immediately.   I also include the re-cycled,  brightly colored plastic Easter Eggs that we use for the egg hunt.  We put quarters and a dollar bill or two in those.  If you throw yours away each year then I suggest you buy them again at one of the dollar stores..  (why not...they are almost the same everywhere)  Make sure that children do not put the eggs in their mouths because these are not BPA/chemical-free.  I'm pretty sure most of them aren't, even if you pay more at the grocery store. 

Opening Baskets and checking things out!

 And if you are fortunate enough to have a friend who's chickens lay real colored eggs, you can make a learning experience about life out of the day too!

Real, non-dyed eggs from my friend, Julie Ann Ulcikas!

To contact me:  Donna@DonnaSchuller.com

If you are struggling with addiction and need help go to: SchullerHelp.org

Monday, March 27, 2017


 Healthy Family, Happy Life!

Spring's for remembering all the promises you made to yourself back in January  It's a time for re-focusing on your goals or perhaps tweaking them a bit to reflect what you really want in the nine remaining months of 2017 and beyond.   It's never too late....
If you still haven't cleaned out your pantry and want help sorting through and figuring out what you should and shouldn't put in your body I'm here to help! My newest endeavor, "Health-in-a-Day" will get you going on the right health track in just three short hours.   We start wherever you are by taking a brief health appraisal questionnaire and then together coming up with and writing a recipe of practical health advice moving forward.  It's easy!  

For those of you who aren't in my area I still offer my nutritional coaching advice over the phone.  Once a week or once every other week.  Check-out my endorsement page to read some comments about my coaching.  I've had much success helping people in this way. 
 No matter where you live, I can help you succeed in feeding your body, your mind, and your soul what it needs to be creative, strong, healthy, peaceful, and open to God's amazing possibilities for your life.   

To contact me via email go to: Donna@DonnaSchuller.com

Do you or someone you know need help with drug or alcohol addiction?  Go to SchullerHelp.org

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Give Thanks In All Things

Goal #3-Be Grateful

This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.  
Psalm 118:24

"Being happy does not mean having what you want, but wanting what you have."

 Thousands of years of literature talk about the benefits of cultivating gratefulness as a virtue and my intention today is to encourage you to be thankful even if you're going through a tough time.  There are multiple scientific studies that show how living with an attitude of gratitude really does improve your life.

In Robert Emmons book, "Thanks! How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier" he reports on several studies. In the first, he and his colleagues divided participants into three groups, each of which made weekly entries in a journal. One group wrote five things they were grateful for. Another group described five daily hassles and a control group listed five events that had affected them in some way. Those in the gratitude group felt better about their lives overall, were more optimistic about the future, and reported fewer health problems than the other participants. Results from a second study suggested that daily writing led to a greater increase in gratitude than weekly practice.

In another study he discovered how people using daily gratitude journals report more satisfaction with their lives and are more optimistic about the future than people who don't. Interestingly,  grateful people also report getting more sleep, spending less time awake before falling asleep and feeling more refreshed in the morning.

Researchers at the University of Connecticut found that gratitude can have a protective effect against heart attacks. Studying people who had experienced one heart attack, the researchers found that those patients who saw benefits and gains from their heart attack, such as becoming more appreciative of life, experienced a lower risk of having another heart attack.

Hopefully I've convinced you that living a life of gratitude is the only way to live.  There are so, so many reason to be thankful...always.  Oh...and don't forget to say "thank you" when someone does something nice for you or pays you a compliment!

For more specific ideas on how to set your goals you can read one of my posts from January 2014 here:
Goal Setting 101

"The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving."
H.U. Westermayer

"Gratitude turns what we have into enough". ~Author Unknown

To reach me you may write me at:Donna@DonnaSchuller.com 
If you need help with addiction go to: SchullerHelp.org 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

#2 Goal To Live By

Goal #2-Be Generous

 Sometimes I hear people say that they don’t get involved in non-profits or charities because they just can’t afford it.  Or they say things like, “I just don’t have anything to give.”  I think we can all feel that way from time to time but I am going to challenge that belief because everyone has something to give.  Whether it’s to a lonely neighbor, a troubled teen, or an organization that feeds and shelters the homeless; giving back is critical to our well being.  Being generous with the gifts that God has given you will make you a healthier person in emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  It will create in  you a more grateful heart as you learn of the unique plights of those in your own neighborhood. Giving of your time and your talents is very helpful for others but just as critical for you.  Even a smile or a kind word can make a huge difference in the life of another.  It's also important to remember this:  it’s not all about the giving of your finances, although not valuing our money over human need is an important attitude to live by. I like the saying, “use money and love people but never use people and love money.”  At the end of the day it’s all about love.

“The emotional benefits [of generosity] are that we cultivate an internal sense of plenitude, enjoy positive feelings from those within our community, and experience an improved self-esteem. This goes for time, love, and attention just as much — if not more — than for money,” says psychologist Chloe Carmichael, PhD, who has a private practice in New York City.
The benefits of giving back don’t just apply to adults. A 2013 study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics examined how volunteering might affect the physical health of adolescents. Researchers divided 106 tenth graders into two groups — one group regularly volunteered one hour a week for 10 weeks, and the other group didn’t volunteer at all. After 10 weeks, the students in the volunteer group had lower levels of cholesterol and inflammation, and lower BMIs than the other group. 
Generosity improves our self-image, lowers our blood pressure, gives us better heart health, and improves our outlook, empathy, and intimacy towards others. Over and over we read about the many benefits of volunteering so make sure you put that towards the top of your list of goals for 2017.  Your children, grandchildren, and anyone in your sphere of influence will also benefit as they witness your example.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Luke 6:38

To reach me you may email me at: Donna@DonnaSchuller.com
If you need help with drug or alcohol addiction go to our website: SchullerHelp.org

Sunday, January 8, 2017

New Year's Goals-Goal 1

Goal #1 for 2017-Be Curious

Curiosity is tied to intelligence and health in body, mind, and soul in multiple ways.   Remember when you were a kid and you drove your parents or your grandparents nuts with all the questions?  You had to ask those questions as you developed as a person in order to know how to get by in this world.    What happens as we age is most of us lose that childlike quality of wanting to know "why?"  Sometimes we just aren't paying attention or other times we just aren't interested.  It could also be that we don't want to come off as being dumb or uneducated.  No ones knows about everything so the first thing I want to encourage you to do is to start asking "why" and "how" questions.   After doing so hopefully you will comment about some of your experiences so all of us can learn from it.
Being a curious person means that you have a thirst for knowledge and a desire to explore subjects and places that may be foreign to you.  Delving deeper into your faith life, learning a new language,  starting a garden,  finding out about the planets or the stars, or learning just about anything out of your comfort zone will help your life grow and prosper.  Curious people tend to have better and more intense relationships with others as well.   As an example there are many studies that show how studying anything new will help you prepare for a test, no matter what the subject.  Click here or here if you are interested in learning more.

Out of the "8 Goals To Live By In 2017" my first is to encourage you to learn something new.  If it frightens you to do so then that's probably a good thing.  The main thing is that you step out of your routine and learn about a new subject, start a new hobby,  travel to that far-away place you've always dreamed about,  or write that book you've always said you would write.   

Next time I will be sharing how generosity is one of the keys to happiness in 2017 and beyond!

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Romans 12:2

**Make sure you join me on The Call on January 15th at 6pm Pacific time.  Dial 641-715-3865 and key-in 642848#   Can't make it this month?  Join me and my husband any month on the same day and at the same time.   Talk to you then!
***Need help with drug or alcohol addiction?   Go to SchullerHelp.org 
(the above post was from a very popular series I did in 2015 so I decided to re-publish it)