Many things contribute to our creativity as writers, but there’s one thing that is vital for our creativity: brain health. Too few of us know, though, how to nurture and maintain brain health, which is where our wonderful guest, Tina Yeager, comes in! Listen as she shares her wisdom and insights.
About Tina Yeager
Award-winning author, speaker, and life coach, Tina Yeager hosts the Flourish-Meant podcast and Flourish Today on Christian Mix 106 and publishes Inkspirations Online, a weekly writers’ devotional. She has been licensed as a counselor since 2005. Tina Yeager serves as director of traditional groups with Word Weavers International and as an active member of the Christian Women in Media Association. For life coaching tips or to book her as an event speaker, visit tinayeager.com. Look for her books, Beautiful Warrior: Finding Victory Over the Lies Formed Against You and Upcycled: Crafted for a Purpose.
As a special treat for our listeners and readers, check out Tina Yeager’s free nutrition guide.
Thanks to our sponsors on Patreon, we’re able to offer an edited transcript of the podcast!
Erin: Welcome, listeners, to the deep. We’re excited that you’re here. We’re continuing our fabulous discussion with the fabulous Tina Yeager, talking about God’s design for creativity and brain health. I know you guys are going to want to jump in with us.
Karen: So let’s talk about brain health. Let’s talk about how that ties into creativity, how we can nurture that, what we can do about brain health, if anything, and how we can not do things that can damage it.
Tina: Our brain is an amazing work of the Creator. It is an incredible organ. The neat thing about our brain is that it’s plastic, and it has the ability to regenerate, repair itself, and recover more than you would ever imagine.
That’s the good news about the brain, and there are ways that God has given us to be able to take good care of our brain and keep it healthy. One of those things are the things that he’s given us to eat. The whole-foods, God-created diet. If you exercise an anti-inflammatory diet, that is going to be best for your brain.
There are certain nutrients in that that are going to be beneficial to the brain. Omega three fatty acids. Magnesium is also really good. Exercising healthy nutrition to feed your brain is important.
A lot of times when we’re emotionally unhealthy, we turn to unhealthy food because we’re trying to comfort ourselves in that. But that food actually does a double whammy. It not only doesn’t help us emotionally, because there’s a spike and a crash that happens with those foods, but it also doesn’t help us physically. It inhibits the brain’s functioning because it’s inhibiting the gut’s functioning.
All of your neurochemistry is actually developed first in the gut. You need to pay attention to your gut health, so that your brain health is going to be in balance. One of the ways that we need to deal with that is bipedal exercise. That helps with gut health. It also helps with oxygenating your brain. Your brain needs plenty of oxygen in order to operate, and most of us do not breathe as deeply as we should during the day.
Are you getting enough oxygen to your brain? That could be breathing in deeply through your nose, holding that for four seconds, exhaling slowly through your mouth, and filling your diaphragm and lungs, and then emptying your diaphragm.
Karen: I’m doing this as you’re talking. It’s hysterical! I’m being obedient.
Tina: Yes, that’s awesome! Actually that will also relax your muscles. One of the things that’ll do is it’ll help you get into that divergent thinking, that theta brainwave state in which you’re able to daydream and think of creative ideas.
Creative flow happens in the theta wave, the lower brain wavelength brain states. You need to get into those instead of constantly being on your blue light wavelengths and keeping yourself on high alert in a beta and alpha and even a gamma brain wavelength state.
Make sure you’re turning down those lights and taking time to not focus on the blue wavelengths. Get yourself in sort of a dimmer daylight spectrum and lower light level, and then get to breathing and relaxing. That’ll help you get into that creative flow a little bit better.
Karen: Interesting. I’ve been doing some research into the whole fight or flight syndrome for a lot of different reasons, but being constantly in that fight or flight, which God developed in us when he created us so that in emergency situations we could make the proper response and our body physiologically reacts to fight or to fly. Because of the entire physiological construction of who we are, if we’re in a dangerous situation or if we’re in a stressful situation, our body says, “Okay, fight or flight? And whichever one you’re going to do, I’m going to kick in and we’ll all work together to make that happen.”
But today’s humanity, people today, they spend so much time in that fight or flight syndrome because they get stressed out about things that aren’t life threatening, but they get stressed out about work, they get stressed out about relationships, they feel life threatening or relationship threatening or a threat to the lives that we enjoy, and so we react in that way.
As a result, your brain health goes straight downhill. Because when you’re in that constantly, instead of just in the emergency itself, it ends up being a negative influence rather than positive.
Tina: Yes, if we apply the things that our brain is meant to do to the wrong situations, it can often be counterproductive. That’s absolutely true with anxiety, fear, untreated trauma responses, any of those things. Absolutely true.
We want to make sure that we do a scan with the Holy Spirit and check to see if we’ve got any blocks to our health, our physical health, our brain health, our emotional health. All of those things work together. They’re not separate processes. They all impact each other.
So if you’re experiencing an untreated trauma situation, It’s important to make sure that you go to find a Christian therapist, a life coach, if it’s applicable to life coaching or a Christian counselor, if you’re really in deep trauma due to some childhood abuse of some kind and dealing with that and help that be removed from being a block to your fulfillment of peace and your purpose.
Erin: Yeah. I think, Karen, what you were talking about, too, as far as the fight or flight, I was reading about that at one point, and that’s like your sympathetic nervous system is engaged. But really, it’s the parasympathetic nervous system we want engaged more. That’s the one that’s the rest and the digest, and that’s the one that we want to learn to engage.
But so much of our world is on sympathetic overdrive. It’s the gas pedal, it’s the constant rush. It’s the constant stress. You’re right, Tina, we need to figure out when that’s happening, why that’s happening. There could be lots of reasons, as you suggest, and some of them could be a deep trauma.
Some of it could just be we’re rushing around to get our kids here, there, and everywhere. It’s just life. So we need to learn how to go back and slow down, because you can’t be creative in sympathetic overdrive. You can’t be creative when you’re on that gas pedal all the time.
You’ve got to get the rest time, the digest time. I don’t know how else we could process and think and pray and check in with the Holy Spirit.
I also was reading about the possibility of joy helping us grow in resilience and joy helping our brain health, which I thought was interesting. What are your thoughts on that, Tina? Have you heard anything about that?
Tina: The thing that joy does is if we’re using it as a way of praising God and thanking God and worshiping God, that connects us with God. It welcomes him into our presence, and when we worship, we see the power of God fall down upon us.
There is a power in the presence of God that inhabits our worship. Scripture says that God inhabits the worship of his people. When you are praising God and you’re worshiping God, that allows God to inhabit you with healing power, with anointing, with all the powerful works of the Holy Spirit. There’s all kinds of things that that invites into your body, your mind, and your soul.
That allows you to be powerful over the things that would normally block you, hold you back and get you to think about how the objects and the obstacles around you, maybe even facts, could be bigger than your God. You might not consciously be thinking it’s bigger than God, but when you’re stressing and obsessing, that’s when you’re starting to get in that mindset of unconsciously thinking, “Maybe God can’t help me out of this.”
Karen: We hear so often about putting on the full armor of God, and we envision ourselves as warriors with the belt of truth buckled around our waist and the breastplate of righteousness in place, and we think that that’s all active. But in reality, that preparation is done through study.
It’s done through worship. It’s done through seeking God in prayer. It’s done through using our brains and stillness and silence to go into the Word and dwell in there with God’s truth so that we do know what the belt of truth is, that we understand it inside and out, and so that we are ready, when the day of evil comes, to stand firm.
It’s not saying you need to have that on and fight every single day. It’s saying get ready for when the day of evil comes. Get ready in stillness. Get ready in immersing yourself in the Word. Even for your writing, get ready in stillness before you put your fingers on the keyboard. Be in the Word. Talk to God in prayer. Spend time letting him speak to you so that when you finally start the story that he’s given you to produce, you do it with his words and not with what you think is going to be best.
You don’t have to be active all the time. In fact, you shouldn’t be.
Erin: I love that. So, Tina, what do you think you would say to the person who, maybe they’re just burned out, they just don’t feel creative lately, and now they’re discouraged because they’re just feeling like a total creativity black hole. What would you say to try to help get them back on their feet?
Tina: We need to approach creativity like children. When we were children, we were all creative. There was actually a study done by secular scientists that showed and proved that 99%, something like that, of all five-year-olds had all the markers of creativity. But we unlearned that down to a level of 2% in adults.
Karen: Oh, my word.
Tina: We’re unlearning our creativity that we were born with because we’re choosing to believe what the world is telling us about who we are, whose we are, and what we can do.
Going back to what we did as children, creativity was fun. Creativity was play. Creativity was connecting with God and with others in joy and wonder. Get yourself back into a place where you can experience wonder and joy.
Go out and play. While you’re at it, do some bipedal exercise, meaning ride a bike, walk, do something with both sides of your body at the same time, because that actually exercises both sides of your brain and it creates neural pathways that increase the corpus callosum, which is the center of the brain. It creates that genius factor, that spatial relational thinking pattern that allows you to be able to think more creatively.
I like to go waterfall hunting when I get a chance. It’s a bipedal exercise. I go out in nature. I’m worshiping the Creator. I’m looking for something to bring me an experience of awe and wonder.
Now, if you don’t happen to live in North Carolina where there’s a abundance of waterfalls like I do, you can go to an art gallery. You could go anywhere that gives you an opportunity to experience awe and wonder. Get outside of your own project and look at some other creative works and play with them.
Play in some things that are not what you’re planning to sell. It’s not work. It’s just fun. Play with paint, play with clay, play with gardening, play with cooking. Something that’s going to get you to experience joy in the process of being creative. That neural pathway will come back, and you’ll begin to experience childlike wonder again, especially if you’re playing in your relationships.
Did you know that relationships are also based on play? We bond with people through play. So, with your children, with your husband, with your family members, with your best friends, go play together. That will also invite the Holy spirit in your worship and your experiences together to come and inhabit you and bring you back to that childlike sense of joy, wonder, and play that is a wonderful fertile ground for your creativity to grow in.
Erin: I love that. I think what you’re really saying, too, about that creativity is that it’s not judged. We don’t judge, like, our kids sandcastle. That’s play. If we could do the same, if we could play in a non judgmental way. If we could just be like, “It doesn’t matter. Nobody’s going to critique this. It can be any way I want.” That’s what we need.
It can be completely unnecessary. I read that elsewhere. This guy, Todd Henry I think, he called it unnecessary creativity, which is just, it’s for you. It’s just to stretch your creative muscles. I love that. You’re right. We all need to play more.
But I do have one question that I just want to circle back on. You’ve used the word bipedal, I think, exercise. Can you define that? You said that it helps both brain halves work together. What is bipedal first of all, and how actually did that work again?
Tina: Bipedal is just using both sides of your body in exercise like walking or biking or, if you really have to, jogging. I don’t personally run unless something with teeth is chasing me. Just do whatever is going to feel good for you, and enjoy using both sides of your brain.
They autopsied Einstein’s brain. They autopsied him to see what was different about his brain and they found that he had an enlarged corpus callosum because he often did bipedal exercise. You see that with several of our greatest geniuses in history. They too would go out and go for walks when they were thinking about a project. They would go out for a bike ride when they were thinking about a project.
You can’t really multitask two cognitive activities at the same time. That’s where we get burned out because your brain uses a lot of energy to switch—which is really what it’s doing, it’s not multitasking—from one cognitive activity to the next cognitive activity.
But you can do a physical activity while you’re doing a cognitive activity, and that actually empowers you to do better at the cognitive activity. So if you’re studying, if you’re listening to a podcast while you’re walking, that can actually make that information sink in better.
Erin: Okay, so you guys go get on your headphones and listen to this while you’re walking or biking or whatever.
That is very cool information. This has been cool. Tina, do you have any final words of wisdom or encouragement you want to leave our listeners with?
Tina: You already have everything that you need. The Lord told us in scripture that we were granted every spiritual blessing, so you have everything you need.
It’s just a matter of settling down all of the distractions and all of the blocks and allowing the healing power of the Holy Spirit just to flow into you and restore your connection with him so you can access it.
In some ways you may need to physically make some changes to make your machine work better, to make your instrument of yourself work better. So there’s some physical aspects. You do need to hydrate. You do need to breathe. You do need to eat for your perfect nutrition for your body. You do need to sleep. Yes, we do need to sleep. You don’t need to wait until you’re dead to sleep. That is important.
There are a lot of things that we physically need to do, but first and foremost, we need to stay connected with the power of Creativity Himself, with Jesus and the Holy Spirit he’s given us.
Karen: All I can say to that is amen!
Erin: And amen! Thank you so much for being here, Tina.
Tina: Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate the opportunity to share with you and your listeners.Is your brain healthy? @tyeagerwrites shares wisdom and insights on two things every writer needs: creativity and brain health! #amwriting #christianwriter Click To Tweet
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Thanks so much to our August sponsor of the month, Priscilla Sharrow! She’s working on her memoir called Bonked! Life, Love, and Laughter with Traumatic Brain Injury, which will release with Redemption Press. Learn more about Priscilla at her website priscillasharrow.com and follow her blog for the TBI/PTSD community.
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