Stress, anxiety, and “busyness” have been so overwhelming for so many people in our modern world, and it’s only gotten worse over the past few years! But have you ever thought about the connection between your mental state and your brain’s neurochemistry? Or what steps you can take to improve your mental state by better understanding your neurochemistry?
Today we are talking all about neurochemicals, stress, your sense of well-being, how to get more serotonin, less cortisol, rewiring your mindset, and more with Dr. Loretta Breuning!
We answer these questions:
– Why do we play social status games?
– What is the neurochemistry behind social status games?
– What is the connection between “peace of mind” and your neurochemistry?
– What are the roles of dopamine, cortisol, and oxytocin?
– How have “busyness” and stress been turned into an effort to connect?
– How can you combat intrusive thoughts and stress?
– How you can rewire your mindset to improve your mind.
– How does the media you consume affect your neurochemistry?
– And more!
Still want to learn more? Schedule with Dr. Barter today!
About Dr. Loretta Breuning:
Loretta G. Breuning, PhD, is Founder of the Inner Mammal Institute and Professor Emerita of Management at California State University, East Bay. She is the author of many personal development books, including Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin and Endorphin Levels. As a teacher and a parent, she was not convinced by prevailing theories of human motivation. Then she learned about the brain chemistry we share with earlier mammals and everything made sense. She began creating resources that have helped thousands of people make peace with their inner mammal. Dr. Breuning’s work has been translated into eight languages and is cited in major media. Before teaching, she worked for the United Nations in Africa. Loretta gives zoo tours on animal behavior, after serving as a Docent at the Oakland Zoo. She is a graduate of Cornell University and Tufts. The Inner Mammal Institute offers videos, podcasts, books, blogs, multimedia, a training program, and a free five-day happy-chemical jumpstart. Details are available at https://innermammalinstitute.org.
Subscribe for more gut health content and share this podcast with a friend! Take a screenshot of this episode and tag Dr. Ann-Marie Barter:
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter is a Functional Medicine and Chiropractic Doctor at Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic. She is the clinic founder of Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic that has two offices: one in Longmont and one in Denver. They treat an array of health conditions overlooked or under-treated by conventional medicine, called the “grey zone”. https://altfammed.com/
Dr. Loretta Breuning: Our happy chemicals are not designed to be on all the time. They are designed to turn on in small moments. So once you accept that they are not on all that, they’re not meant to be on all the time and nothing is wrong with you. So I don’t think that disease model has been very valuable.
Intro: Are you struggling with bloating, gas constipation and fatigue, but don’t know what’s causing these problems? The Gut Health Reset Podcast with Dr. Ann-Marie Barter dives deep into the root causes behind these issues that start in the gut. This podcast will give you the knowledge you need to heal your gut and reset your health.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Today on the Gut Health Reset Podcast, we are talking about neurochemicals and how they relate to your sense of well-being. We’re also talking about how to get more serotonin and less cortisol and how diet relates to your sense of overall well-being. Thank you so much for joining us here today on the Gut Health Reset Podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Ann-Marie Barter and today our special guest is Loretta Brennan, Ph.D.. She is the founder of the Inner Familial Institute and Professor Emerita of management at California State University East Bay. She is the author of many personal development books, including Habits of a Happy Brain, Retrain Your Brain to Boost Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin and Endorphin Levels. Her books have been translated into eight languages and cited in the major media. All of her inner Memorial Institute offers videos, podcasts, books, multimedia and training programs can be found on Inner Memorial Institute dot org. All right. It is so great to have you back on this show. It was so fun the first time around and we talked about all the neurochemicals and I’m so passionate about them too, and I love them. So I just find your work so interesting and so fascinating, so it’s great to have you back on the show.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: Thanks so much.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: All right, so I want to kind of dig in, you know, you’re releasing basically a new book, correct? Yes. Awesome.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: It’s called Status Games, Why we play and how to stop.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: I like that. I like that a lot. So maybe we should get into why we play status games.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: Sure. Yes, exactly. OK, so let’s hear it. No one consciously intends to do this. We all easily see this in others, and we don’t really like to see it in ourselves, but it’s very valuable to understand the universal mammalian impulse. So when you see yourself in the one up position, your brain actually rewards you with serotonin. That’s a good feeling, so that motivates you. You want more of that good feeling, so you try to put yourself in the one up position again. Now it sounds cruel or nasty or whatever. But in the animal world, if you put yourself in that one position and then you can possibly assert yourself for food and mating opportunity. But when you see that you’re in the one down position, then you will get bitten if you reach for food or mating opportunity. So animals do not reach out for resources unless they compare themselves to others and make sure it’s safe.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: So we have inherited a brain that is constantly comparing our constantly comparing us to others, and we want to be in the one up position because that feels good. But even more, we want to avoid being the one down position because then we might get bitten. So you can see how this is like the craziness that people create in their own heads and then they play out in the world.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: And so how does this look? I mean, I’m assuming this looks like keeping up with the Joneses, winning the race, et cetera. This is why we strive and are almost what what would you call overachievers are. Mind never stops. We always have to keep pushing. Correct.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: Oh, there’s a lot of different things there, that whole pushing treadmill feeling that is actually dopamine, but all the chemicals, you only get them for a short time and then you need more. So even with connection, that feeling is quickly metabolized and then you want more, which is why people can be like clingy or following the herd. So all of these chemicals keep motivating us. That’s what they do. But the motivation to be in the one out position that plays out in so many different ways and accusing others of being materialistic or people who want to get ahead. That’s like the obvious example, but there are just hundreds of examples. So my book starts with actually just a couple of dozen of them. And for example, you know, if someone cuts you off driving. And it’s really irrelevant, so why do people get so upset about that? Because they’re connecting it to something in their past, because all of these one up, one down gains are wired in when we’re young, because that’s when our neuroplasticity is high.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: So any time you feel like someone’s getting ahead of you, you have that reaction. And another famous example is moral superiority. I’m better than you because my diet is healthier than yours, or I can do more sit ups than you or whatever. So it happens in so many ways.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: All the time, right? Everywhere. It seems like, wow, wow. I’m almost speechless when I’m almost speechless. OK, so let’s get let’s get into like really digging into it. So what is the connection between our peace of mind and these neurochemicals?
Dr. Loretta Breuning: Great. So we feel good when we have these chemicals, so we think, Oh, we need that when the chemical is quickly metabolized and then it’s gone. Now, any worries, anxieties, fears that you have are sort of masked by a good feeling chemical. So then when the good feeling is gone, you risk going back to that bad feeling and then you may rush. Oh, I got to feel good again. I got to quickly repeat whatever it is, whatever. Oh, I can do more sit ups than them or whatever it is that you’re using to stimulate your happy chemicals.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: And so I use the concept of being in neutral like a car could either be in forward or in reverse or in neutral. So many people feel like they have to be in forward all the time because otherwise they’ll be in reverse and reverse named stress, chemicals, threat, risk, fear. But we can actually train ourselves to understand that we could be in neutral, which means happy chemicals surge is over. And instead of now thinking that you’re going to go back to a threatened feeling, it means that you have an open mind and you’re ready for your next step. Because that’s what our brain is really designed for is deciding where should I invest my energy and my next step?
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: And how many people are really in neutral? Do you have to train yourself to be a neutral?
Dr. Loretta Breuning: I think so, yeah, because see, the thing is, we already trained our to fear like not being in forward all the time, right? And a simple example is to think about a teenager being bored because what is being bored is the minute there’s not some excitement going on or some distraction that a bad thought returns to your head. A sense of fear or loss of whatever minutia is going on. And so the way you end, the bad feeling is by rushing into the next excitement. Whatever that may be, it could be a video game. It could be food. It could be having a pleasant conversation. You could be yelling at someone. So just the idea of doing nothing and doesn’t mean that you have to rush into your next reward, but you can slowly enjoy your choice about your next step toward reward. But we do need to take steps toward rewards to stimulate our happy chemicals. That’s how they’re designed to work. Mm hmm.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: And so how does our past experience and what we’ve experienced previously, maybe in childhood affect our wellbeing today?
Dr. Loretta Breuning: So here’s the thing. Well, all of these chemicals are wired by past experience, and a simple way to understand that is when you’re born, you don’t speak any language at all. But by the time you’re two years old, you’ve learned a language from repetition. That’s just what builds neural pathways. So in the same way that you learned words, you learned your likes and dislikes and you didn’t learn them from conscious language. That’s the language part of your brain is more conscious. But the nonverbal part of your brain learns from chemicals. So anything that made you feel good connected neurons to say that’s the way to feel good and anything that made you feel bad connected neurons. That said, that’s going to be bad. So when you’re under eight years old, these connections build very easily. And that’s why we learn language easily at that age. We also learn our emotional responses easily at that age. Then when you’re in, you’re in puberty years, you get another surge of myelin, which is the chemical that’s like paving on your neural pathways. And that likewise gives you a new opportunity to build new highways or anything that made you feel good or bad during those years.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Wow and rinse, repeat, right, so to me, you can. Yeah. Can you give an example of what that’s going to look like to a child and what what kind of fundamental pathways we build?
Dr. Loretta Breuning: Sure. So children want attention and to be special. That’s the one up feeling. And you can easily see this in monkeys. Little monkeys are constantly wrestling with each other and we say, Oh, it’s cute. They’re just playing, but they’re not just playing, they’re trying to learn how to get the dominant position. Now, a little kid learns whatever stimulates a good feeling. They want to repeat that. So whether it’s the good dopamine feeling or oxytocin feeling which we could go into or not. But the good serotonin feeling is whatever makes you special. Now, one child might be special by kicking a goal in a little kitty soccer team. Another kid might be special because they live in a home with three adults and no other children, and every single thing they do, they get a constant round of applause. Another kid might be special by stealing another person’s cookie and becoming the center of attention that way. So whatever works when you’re young, alas, builds pathways that tell your brain to expect another good feeling when you repeat that behavior. So if people really think about the things they focus on today, you can see the early roots of that.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: And let’s talk about like you did go into the neurochemicals a little bit. So what would be, you know, a dopamine reward? What would be a serotonin reward? So let’s go through some of that as well.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: Sure. So let me start with like a seven year old kid since we were on that right? Yeah. So when you’re born, you are hungry, but you can’t do anything to get your own food. You don’t even know what food is. But the first time you’re fed the food relieves the feeling of hunger. So hunger is an alarm. Feeling is cortisol, which we call the stress chemical. So anything that relieves a bad feeling. Your brain says, “Wow, get me more of that.” So that’s dopamine. That’s your need has been met. And that’s really what does it. So if you are hungry and you hear your mother’s footsteps and you link that to in the past when you heard that sound, your need was met, your that feeling was relief. So even before you know what your mother is, you release dopamine when you hear your mother’s footsteps. Now you could imagine a kid like they’re bored, and one kid learns to relieve boredom with this diversion. Another kid learns with that diversion. So anything that so diversion is not a conscious need, not a survival need. But when your main needs are met, dopamine is about finding something new. And so that’s why when kids find something new, they get a spurt of dopamine and whatever kind of exploring and excitement they learn when they were young. That’s where they look to in the future. And you can see again how we do that in our own ways. Now, oxytocin is the urge for social support. So like I said, a newborn baby, when it’s hungry, it doesn’t consciously understand social support.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: But over time, you’re one or two. Then you sort of get it. But if you lose your money in a store that you’re sort of in trouble, right? So it’s that desire for protection. And once again, any time you get protection, the good feeling of oxytocin is released. It connects neurons.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: It’s like, Oh, that’s the way to feel good. That’s the way to get social support. So again, one person might do it by tap dancing and finger painting. And Mommy, look what I did, you know? And another person might do it by studying and getting we’re getting attention in the classroom. And again, all of these things, then we build another layer of circuitry in our puberty years, and all of this time we’re also learning how to do this through mirror neurons, which means how do the people around us do it when the people around you get that great feeling of, yes, this this works for me or no, this is terrible for me. So we sort of drink that into state.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So you you did talk about. Cortisol. So how does stress and how is stress related to self-confidence or self-esteem?
Dr. Loretta Breuning: Good. Good, good. So these are all words that we put on with our conscious brain. So we know that we should have self-esteem or whatever word you want to use. Self-love, self-compassion. Excuse me, but your nonverbal brain, you know, it’s it’s hard to do because you’re nonverbal. Brain is already wired to do it in its own way. So each little child has learned. Let’s talk about it in child language like, Oh, I’m going to get in trouble or, well, they’ll really love this, you know? So whatever we learned in our past about what works and what makes you feel accepted and respected, so accepted as the oxytocin of support and respect, it is the serotonin of being important. So you’re learning in more of a naive, childlike way to seek those feelings. And then we all have the challenge of trying to translate that into an adult response because you learn when you’re when, as you grow up that those child responses can get you into trouble. So we’re always trying to sort of figure that out. A simple example would be a person in high school who has risky behavior, and when they engage in risky behavior, they’re popular and they’re the center of attention.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: It’s like, Whoa, I want more of that. And then they make it added consequences from that over time. So we’re trying to fit our and consequences with our old pathways of this is the way to go. And that’s why it’s hard to find that self-esteem place because our early wiring can never be perfect because we don’t know what the adult world is like. Hmm.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Interesting. And how does that look? Today, because we have I feel like a lot of people. Today are addicted to stress, almost addicted to that stress feeling. You know, you ask somebody how they are. And it’s become an emotion like, I’m stressed, you know, and there’s no really expounding on that. It’s like, OK, you know, I’m overwhelmed. So where does that peace come from and how does that link in to our? Does that just give us something worthwhile that, hey, we’re busy, we want to be seen as busy? Don’t bother me. I’m not fully. I’ve never fully understood.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: Yeah, yeah. Well, I totally agree with everything you said, and I like that evidence of how busy you are. So it’s a learned thing, and we can think of it as an effort to connect. So every culture, every generation has its acceptable ways to connect. And I think that has been learned as the acceptable way to connect and every way has its pros and cons, for example, you know, there have been times in the past where people say, How are you? And you say, I’m great, even if you’re awful. So that has its limits, too. Right? Then there are times when people connect it just by talking about the weather.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: So now people connect by saying, I’m stressed. So ironically, just by coincidence, I was writing about this this morning that it was that movie called Inside Out, which is a cartoon version by Pixar of What’s Going On in your head. It was a very popular movie, but I had written a blog post criticizing it because in the movie, the girl gets love by having a meltdown. And the movie was really teaching kids that the way to get love is by having a meltdown. And then the mother in the movie is like so much praising the kid for having the meltdown because you’re in touch with your feelings. So how do you become special and when up an important by being the weak, vulnerable person that everybody now has to take care of?
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So many people struggle with bloating, bowel issues, brain fog, fatigue. You might not even have any gut issues, but did you know the cause of it could be food sensitivities or gut infections? What I have done is I have brought a talented functional nutritionist into my practice. We have very similar training in the nutritional world. And her name is Alexis Appleberry. She is awesome. So you can head on over to our website, AltFamMed.com, and have a consultation with her and schedule so that she can help you get to the root cause of your problems.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So how do we rewire cells to feel more of these neurochemicals, for example? And I mean, I think that people really genuinely want to connect, they want to feel less stressed and I mean, we can even go into. I was I was having a conversation the other day with a pediatric doctor, and she’s been in practice for about 15 years. And she said, I have written more antidepressant prescriptions in the end in 2020 and 2021 than I have in my entire career. So I think that that talks about the monumental piece that I think people were really struggling with kind of through this time. And so how do we enjoy more serotonin on our own versus getting it from a prescription and less stress?
Dr. Loretta Breuning: Yeah. Well, and by the way, the less stress piece I wrote a different book about that. It’s called Tame Your Anxiety. So there’s such a big question. And so let’s start with going back to this idea that our happy chemicals are not designed
Dr. Loretta Breuning: to be on all the time. They are designed to turn on in small moments in a situation where an animal would need that. Like that on switch to say this is the time to go for it. And it’s like turning on the gas from your inner mammals perspective. And if it were on every minute, then you turn on the gas at the wrong moment. So once you accept that they’re not all in all that they’re not meant to be on all the time and nothing is wrong with you then, because people have learned to define themselves through the disease model, which suggests that other people are getting these good feelings effortlessly all the time. And if you’re not getting them, something must be wrong with you, and you can get your brain fixed at the shop the way you bring your car to the shop and get it fixed. People have learned not to take responsibility for their brain, but it’s not a matter of skill building. But it’s a matter of I’m broken and I need to be fixed. I have a disorder, so I don’t think that disease has been very valuable. So the first skill is to know that I don’t need to have a happy chemical on every minute because if I do, I may rush into harmful behaviors that turn on my hobby chemicals instantly. That may not be good for me. So when I have that uncomfortable moment when I realize that my happy chemicals have fallen, but I’m not going to rush into that old pattern. And so I have this fear that a bad feeling is going to come on.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: And I was as bad as anybody with this. Like, I had unpleasant old memories, so I needed to do cartwheels every minute to distract myself out of fear that those unhappy feelings would come back. So that’s a learned habit, that fear of your old, unpleasant memories. But everybody has it. It’s a natural thing. So animals live in a world of threat, and they’re constantly either running from threat or seeking reward. Animals need to eat almost all day in order to get enough food so they’re so busy seeking food and chewing and digesting and looking for mates, nurturing the constant offspring that they don’t have time to worry about predators.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: So that’s what we suddenly have all this free time to worry, and that’s what people are doing. And then they’re rushing into that flight from worry. And so the self-acceptance that that worry feeling is something I created with old neural pathways. It’s just a chemical that will be metabolized in an hour, and I can find healthy distractions within that hour. And then after that, I can make healthy decisions about the next step to turn on more heavy chemicals.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So I think. Most people just can’t even get out of the worry. It’s it, it’s it’s perpetual, and I think that I see that a fair amount and people can’t turn their brain off. They can’t stop intrusive thoughts, they can’t stop the worry. It’s kind of one thing to the next. So you said you distracted yourself from uncomfortable thoughts. Is that the best tool or one of the only tools to use to stop maybe that constant worry that that some people feel?
Dr. Loretta Breuning: The first step is really, to be honest with yourself, about what the uncomfortable thought is and then look for the root of it in your childhood so that you can accept that it’s just an old neural pathway rather than a current emergency. And in my book, Time Your Anxiety, I suggest putting on a timer and doing this for 60 seconds, because then if it’s a real emergency, people say, what if it’s a real emergency? So if it’s a real emergency, then you can take action. But 60 seconds is long enough to look for that. Old patterns say, Oh, this is my fear. Let’s call it fear of rejection, right? Fear of abandonment and fear of being criticized. All of these things fear of social isolation. These are all fears that we build in our childhood because that’s normal for a child. And if you’re always running from these fears, rather than looking at them with your adult brain, then you can’t rewire them. Once you look at them with your adult brain, then you can think about it in agile in adult terms like, yes, I have been rejected.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: But is it really a survival threat? That’s one possible response. Another possible response is was I really reject it. Maybe it’s just that I expected too much from that person. And what I got was X, and I was really hoping for why. But that’s not really a rejection. Or another possibility is maybe I really rejected them by running away because I’m so fearful of rejection. So whatever person’s pattern is, they can dig in and find that. And then, OK, then you’re still full of anxiety. Cortisol. When you think about that old moment that first created your fear, then you could give yourself like a half hour to watch a comedy and then take action, go forward and create a new pathway that says in the long run, the next time I feel rejection, this is the way I want to manage it, or the next time I feel isolated or the next time I feel clueless. Whatever your loop is that you say, the way I want to manage it is this and know that you can make this your new normal, but it takes a lot of repetition to dothat. So you have to commit to the repetition.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Mm hmm.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Do you also think that that the piece of this is maybe you said to watch a comedy? I thought I thought that was very specific because that’s going to create happy feelings. Do you feel like a lot of the TV that people watch actually is a problem here?
Dr. Loretta Breuning: Yeah, it depends how you use it. So if you use it endlessly or if you use it as a referencing for your reality. So I am very careful. I always explain about how much time I spend choosing my distractions and then how careful I am about the end time that I’m only going to do it for this amount of time. Because once you have cortisol in your bloodstream, it takes a half hour to an hour to get rid of a good chunk of it. And during that time, your brain is only looking for bad things because that’s the job of cortisol is to tell you to look for danger.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: And if you don’t consciously manage it by some kind of positive, healthy thing, then you’ll probably stuffed food in your face or some other thing. Mm hmm. And so that’s so if you’re watching like a very heavy murder show, very painful, you know, you know, I don’t know it was the behavioral unit or something that was very dark. I don’t even think it’s I think you know what I’m talking about, but that’s so so that’s going to increase the cortisol, which is maybe going to oh yeah, to really drive in that feeling that you’re trying to get rid of. Correct. Yeah, yeah. And it’s sort of like, why did people choose to?
Dr. Loretta Breuning: Do that, and I think people look for something that helps them explain why they have these dark feelings, and there’s an old cliche that misery loves company. And this is really true in the animal world that mammals bond around common threats.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: So if you have, let’s say, a group of baboons, if there’s no threat, they spread out because it’s easier to find food that way. But as soon as they smell a predator, they cluster. And so we like that clustering. We fear that isolation and we learn from past experience that whatever activates this sense of threat makes it easier for us to generate a feeling of belonging. But we often then accentuate that sense of threat in very unhealthy ways. And politics, needless to say, is a well-known example of this, for sure. So it sounds like when we feel to rewire ourselves to feel better watching something light hearted for a short period of time, really feeling for 60 seconds what we’re feeling and why. And really, where does that date back to eight years or younger? Like, what were we feeling during that time period? Is there anything else? It’s kind of like a drop in roll that needs to be done when we’re getting these these cortisol type stress feelings.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: So the two steps you mentioned are great. And then the third step after your, let’s say, half hour of something uplifting. And what I always explain is it has to be uplifting to you. So if you want to play the guitar, if that feels good to you, great. If you get frustrated when you play the guitar, then it’s not great. You want to do yoga if you like it, great. But if yoga makes you frustrated that so everyone has to decide that. And then the third step again is to focus on your next step and your next step toward positive expectations toward a reward. And once again, I say put on a timer 60 seconds is long enough to analyze your next step because if you have infinite amount of time, you’ll just analyze it and never take it. So give yourself 60 seconds to analyze and then take that next step. Decide. What do I need to invest my energy in next? And a simple example is like if you’re a gazelle, you’re always making a decision. Do I want to walk toward that greener pasture to get more food? Or do I want to walk toward the herd to get more safety? Or do I want to run to escape danger? So they’re always deciding like, what’s my next step? And that’s what you are always deciding.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: And so would that be another distraction? Would that be because you said positive expectations, which I think is an interesting way to phrase it? I was thinking you were going to say realistic expectations.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: Okay, okay. Yes. So. After you’re done with the distraction, then you need to take a positive step and a step to that it goes together. Thank you. Realistic and positive because if you have positive expectations, I always use the example of being some kind of superstar.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: And they’re not realistic. Then after a while, it feels hopeless and you no longer have positive expectations. So you have to take a step toward something where you actually expect to get it and that it being either a dopamine type of reward or a certain type of reward or an oxytocin and a small enough chunk that you actually expect to get there. OK, maybe not in one day, but with certain steps that you repeat.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So you’re saying maybe smaller steps that are attainable that are going to give you a good feel good neurochemical dance because it’s so funny because I will be reading books and they’re like, You got a dream so big over the top things you never thought. I was like, Wow, this book is very overwhelming, you know, maybe more of a little rah rah rah rah for me. But yeah, that’s interesting that you say that. For me, the big wins come from small steps.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: Exactly. And what I say in all of my work is a small, short run goal, a long run goal and a middle term goal. You can have all of those, but we definitely need the short in the middle. And also, when I say we need be the pleasurable disruptors because many people think when you’re stressed that you should go eat vegetables and do exercise. But in that moment when you’re stressed, it doesn’t uplift you. So then they have no uplifting tools and what their inner mammal is giving that feeling of, Hey, it’s never my turn. I’m never going to be happy. I’m always going to be not eating healthy enough, not reaching high enough. It never feels like I got it. You’re never giving it. It’s like a horse, and you’re never giving it any carrots. You’re always telling it the carrot will come later on.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Hmm. You know what I’ve noticed with kind of the serotonin and cortisol picture is when somebody gets really stressed or they don’t feel like they have enough cortisol, they or I’m sorry, too much cortisol, not enough serotonin. They reach for cookie cakes and candy.
Dr. Loretta Breuning: Yes, exactly, exactly. Because that makes him feel good. Right, exactly. Or whether, you know, it could be alcohol or drugs or behavior, unhealthy behaviors and all of these come from setting the bar so high that you never feel a reward. Then you give up, then you tell yourself, what’s the use? Now I get to eat as many cookies as I want or whatever other unhealthy habit that you’re indulging in. And even when I say, if you never give yourself any rewards, once you learn this healthy practice, you can start enjoying rewards again because you’re able to just have a small amount. Awesome. Well, I think we can wrap up for today, but where can people find your book if they’re interested? Inner Mammal Institute dot org has all of my books and lots of free resources, and if you don’t like to read, has lots of things to listen to. So Inner Mammal Institute dot org.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being here today, and thank you for everybody for coming out and listening today. We really appreciate your support. If you want to hear more, let us know. Subscribe, say hello and let us know what you want to hear more of. Take care. Thanks. Bye bye.
Outro: Thank you for listening to the Gut Health Reset Podcast. Please make sure you subscribe, leave a rating and a review. More people can hear about the podcast and hey, take a screenshot of this episode and tagged Dr. Anne Marie on Instagram or Facebook at Dr. Ann-Marie Barter. And for more resources, just visit Dr. Ann-Marie Barter dot com.