How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus

As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Krystal L. Culler, DBH, M.A.

Krystal is the Founder of the Virtual Brain Health Center and a Doctor of Behavioral Health. She is a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health with the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland where she completed her residency training on dementia prevention. Krystal has spent nearly 5 years in Executive-level positions with health non-profit organizations and has 15 years of experience working with individuals with brain health concerns, their families, and advocacy organizations. Under her leadership, the programs she directed have received 4 international and national awards from leading organizations in the aging care sector for innovation in brain health & wellness programming and community impact and she has been recognized through the receipt of 4 personal rising leadership awards for her personal contributions to her local community. She has an unwavering commitment to promoting brain health equity to individuals of all ages and the communities she serves.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I was born and raised in a small town in West Virginia (Weirton). I am the older, cliché “bossy” sister (so I have been told) that aimed to please and was a wee-bit serious. (Thankfully, I have learned to laugh at myself a lot over the years.) The thing I got in “trouble” for the most was staying up late reading books- mostly The Babysitters Club series and then books about war- the civil war and World War II just fascinated me- how something like that could even occur. I remember doing odds and ends, working for my allowance, and I have had multiple jobs since I have been old enough to work.

For as long as I can remember, my mom had us a “college fund” and whenever we received a monetary gift for a birthday or holiday we were taught to save half for college. I was expected to receive “good grades” because I had the ability to do so. My dear Pappy John always said, “To go to school to go make something of myself and to not rely on a man.” I’m fairly certain I learned how to be a young feminist from him as he taught me that younger girls could do anything and always encouraged me to dream big. My mother reassured me to, “Go to grow” and while I was not sure what that would mean- things have had a way of working out so far. I am open to the possibilities of what is next as well.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

Looking back, I am not surprised I found my way to the social sciences and love for the brain, psychology, and gerontology, the study of aging. I feel so fortunate to have my life enriched by amazing grandparents and older adults that vowed to my terminally ill father to help watch over my sister and me once he passed away. I administered my first “survey” to my family on index cards following his death. My 8-year old self rationalized that my trusted advisors, my family and adult friends, would be able to help me understand his death. I used to read the index cards from time to time afterwards and in some way, it helped me process my grief. Things had a way of coming full circle when I started my research career in aiming to understand knowledge of hospice and palliative care.

It is tough to pick one person who has really helped with my success today as I have had a tribe of family, friends, mentors, colleagues, and acquaintances who have truly dedicated their time, talent, and knowledge to me over the various stages of my life and career to date. I have also had organizations invest their resources and trainings from middle school onward for a variety of leadership related events. I am so grateful for the formal and informal mentors that I have had over the years, as well as, the individuals that I have worked with and learned from, who have inspired me to keep moving forward along my chosen career path. My most formidable years were shaped by my Mam-Mam, Pappy John & Grammy Helen, and Cha-Cha Glow, and I will always cherish the life lessons and fond memories I have with them. I would not be the social gerontologist that I am today without their influence on my life.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

I am incredibly appreciative to my husband, Jacob D’Amico. We met the summer I was starting graduate school and he has been my pillar of support ever since. He was my carer for two years after my seizure and the prior months when my health was failing. I would not be where I am today in my career without him by my side. Each time I have an “idea”- he is my sounding board and my intellectual sparring partner.

He has backed me through graduate school, a health catastrophe mere days after we said, “I do”, an International Fellowship, a long-distance job, job promotions, career changes, toxic work environments, and other major life events that occur for females in the workplace, as well as, personal losses that we have both experienced. He has celebrated my highest of highs and stuck by my side for my lowest of lows. He smiles when he introduces me as “his wife, Dr. Culler” and his belief in me and my abilities has been unwavering over the past 12 years.

I admire him for his strength, kindness, and wit as I am grateful for his humor that helps keeps me balanced. He encourages me every day to go after my dreams and we work together to achieve our professional and personal goals. My Pappy John always told me to find someone that would treat me like him. I am grateful to have a husband that encourages my career and knows me better than I know myself at times. I am a better person because I have him in my life reassuring me every single step of the way as my husband, partner, and best friend.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Rainbow sprinkles. These colorful bits of eye-catching delight now bring about laughter, but were sure a lesson for me to learn. I was brought into an organization to incorporate brain health into memory care. One of the first areas to address was adherence to a brain healthy diet and the food/beverage being served was at the top of the list for reform. There are times where food does not equate love or kindness and smuggling in rainbow sprinkles to add to food after a change in dietary guidelines is now a laughable occurrence. My mistake was not recognizing that some people, despite training and multiple individualized conversations, will resist change and will take deliberate action to willfully sabotage a change that they fundamentally do not support. However, at the time it was a lesson that some people are not a proper fit for your organization as it evolves and this happens for both employees and volunteers alike. It is imperative to take action quickly.

The lesson I learned is that change is hard and endings are necessary. Being the face of change is grueling in a leadership role. It is okay to not be “liked” within a job role when there is work to be done, but there are times when people cross lines and personal boundaries that is unacceptable. Integrity is critical for the population you serve when individuals are within your care and at times there is no room for compromise other than providing best practices. Individuals with brain health concerns and their carers deserve programs and services backed by research informed recommendations delivered by quality providers. Providing anything less than what is known in the field is subpar and inexcusable. Refusing to accept anything less than your own standards, as well as industry standards, is a red flag to know when to walk away- even when it pertains to your professional life- execute the ending.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

First, how other people treat you is a direct reflection of them- not you. The only thing in your control is your reaction to a situation. At no point in time are you responsible for the actions of others nor their emotions. Remember this and it will serve you well in the future. Learn skills and techniques that can support you in situations that might not be ideal or tense. Like all things in life, you have to know when it is time to walk away and when it is time to take up the good fight so to speak. Walking away does not equate with weakness nor giving up. For situations both professionally and personally- there will be times when you will have to decide when to hold on, let go, or move on. Your work, your successes, your lessons learned, and everything else are just that- yours. Others may try to take things from you, dampen your light, make you question what is yours, but at the end of the day your truth belongs to you. Know your value, know your worth, and do not allow others to diffuse responsibility on you. Be strategic and build your tribe. Surround yourself with people who lift your spirit, support you, and truly want you to succeed- no strings attached.

Secondly, fail forward. This would be my advice to my younger self as there are many lessons in life and very few “failures”. Every situation, every encounter, every conversation, every job interview, etc. is a chance to grow, learn, and evolve. Practice mental resilience and being adaptable to new and different situations. Being open to new opportunities can offer pleasant surprises and career turns or shifts. My career to date has been one unforeseen event followed by an inadvertent twist, accidental pothole, an unexpected loop on an unscheduled trip, but I am open to the impromptu adventure and I am prepared. This has led me to recently start my own business which was unplanned but rather an opportunity that has unfolded to take an area of work that I am passionate about- brain health- and share it with others.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Quiet Leadership by David Rock was a book that had a significant impact on me during a challenging time in my career last year. It was a helpful review about how people hear even the simplest things very differently and how our brains are more diverse than we tend to acknowledge. The wiring of our brains impacts how we view the world and our perception. Learning practical ways to help people think differently was very helpful versus the cliché way of doing the thinking for other people (a waste of our own energy and essentially giving away the answers!).

“Changing the way people think is one of the tougher challenges of leadership, as people tend to fight hard to hold on to their view of the world.” The book was a helpful tool that described what leaders may face in various situations and it provided practical tips to use. It also addressed that time is needed for individuals to rewire their minds and their thinking. The silver lining- it is possible to change one’s thinking and it is not that hard. I highly recommend this book to learn more!

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words.
Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions.
Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits.
Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character.
Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.
– Chinese proverb, author unknown

When I was younger, I was raised that people should be happy to see you come, not to see you go. This sticks with me to this day along with the notion of taking responsibility for the energy you bring to a space. Many facets of this quote apply to various aspects of life and business in many different ways such as: your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room or your reputation precedes you. Thoughts, words, actions and inaction are powerful. Our words can be used to hack our brains such as saying, “I feel excited!” to give our brains a boost. This quote can be used to set ourselves up for success through the cumulative result of positive actions and thoughts.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I recently launched a Virtual Brain Health Center with the vision to provide purpose for brain health optimization. In response to observing how COVID-19 was disproportionately impacting aging adults, individuals with brain health concerns, and carers, the goal was to leverage technology to make brain health programs accessible. I partnered with two amazing colleagues, LeAnne Stuver, M.Ed., BSN & Patricia Faust, MGS, CAt, to bring the center to fruition along with nearly 15 adjunct faculty members who provide their expertise and talent on a variety of wellness topics.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to bring top-notch programs to individuals, carers, and industry providers where they are- at home or on the go- to be able to access reliable information about brain health or engage in brain health programs. Our model of brain wellness provides cognitive engagement, physical movement, and opportunities for social engagement through a variety of brain-based educational classes focused on personal well-being such as nutrition, gentle yoga, brain aerobics, meditation, tai chi, music & the brain, and many more! We offer over 40 classes per month and we are growing our services. We just launched a first of its kind city-wide brain health and wellness initiative with Middleburg Heights, Ohio, too. It is wonderful to see how we can support the wellness goals of others.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

Good habits set your brain and body up for success. We can leverage good habits to optimize our performance or notice our bad habits to preserve our brain and body’s energy that can be used in a more productive way.

For example, avoid multitasking. Our brains lack the ability to do two or more tasks at the same time- when we are multitasking- our brains are rapidly shifting between the two tasks. Our brains get tired from having to keep the rules/parameters for each task that we are performing separately. As humans, we want to think we are “multitasking” when in reality we are taxing the resources of our brain’s ability to perform well. If you have two tasks to accomplish- it is best to divide your time and separate the tasks, which also allows you to individually focus and pay attention to each task separately. Give this a try and you will notice a difference.

Here are some quick tips to avoid multi-tasking:

1) If a task takes less than 2 minutes to complete- get up and do it. Don’t wait to add it to your to-do list.

2) Try the Pomodoro Method technique which is a time management tool that chunks working intervals into 25 minutes of focused attention and then a dedicated break time of 5 minutes and then repeats. Pomodoro timers can be purchased online or even via an app.

3) Give the 52:17 rule a try. Be productive for 52 minutes and break for 17 minutes which has been found to boost productivity among workers. To begin, 17 minutes might sound like a longer break but individuals can start with smaller break intervals such as 5, 7, 10, etc. minutes and build from there. This time can be used to do tasks that do not require as much thought such as walking to get the mail, using the restroom, but do try to take an earnest brain break. This rest is restorative to your brain and body.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

I use my peak times to my advantage to tackle more cumbersome items on my personal to-do list. Pay attention to your body’s clock. Our body’s internal clock is known as a circadian rhythm which can impact our health and optimal time of day to do certain tasks at a biological and functional level. This preference for time can be used to set ourselves up for success.

I schedule “me” time. I also block out times for myself in the morning and afternoon on my calendar as “busy” rather than being available for meetings. I use this time to tackle my high priority tasks or tasks that need to be completed before the end of the day. Blocking out this time and planning to honor this time block has set me up for success to manage my time for my priority items. At the end of the day, I make a quick list of things to tackle the next day, put away rubbish, and scan the next day’s calendar for a mental plan, too.

I schedule time to check my work email; otherwise, I am not on it all day. I remove the email alerts from my computer and phone, too. I establish rapport with individuals I work closely with and if they need anything immediately my phone will ring. I recognize that different work environments foster a different work culture but being trained to respond to an email alert might not be the best health tip if it is not pertinent to one’s job. Establishing routines and healthy boundaries will be beneficial in the long-run. Keep in mind research has found that it takes nearly 25 minutes to get yourself back on track after being interrupted. Imagine if this happens a few times a day- the loss in productivity adds up (3x = 1 hour). Rather than feeling the urge to be responsive to other people all day long, by scheduling the time to check email, I can then reply as appropriate and handle tasks as needed during the time I had planned.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

In general, the best way to develop good habits or to stop bad habits is to be aware of the habit. For many, we have habits that we do unconsciously each day. Some small habits might not work in our favor and are areas that we could improve on such as mindless snacking or drinking too much caffeine. Becoming aware of a habit or an action that we are performing on a regular basis that is not serving us well is an initial first step. (Suggestion: if we do not know of any “bad” habits- we can ask someone close to us for feedback.) Make a goal easy to obtain such as to not mindlessly snack between lunch and dinner unless you are actually hungry.

Once we acknowledge a “bad” habit and some potential barriers, we can make a plan to tackle the habit such as not purchasing tempting snack items at the store (high calorie snacks or processed foods) or removing snack items from the kitchen counter top (out of sight, out of mind) and increasing water intake to help with feeling full. To “H.A.L.T.” the snack- notice when you are looking to grab a treat- is it because you are: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired? Take a moment and use this acronym (H.A.L.T.) to monitor your physical and mental well-being related to your snack goal (this can be applied to other wellness goals, too). Small steps can lead to big changes. Start small and work your way towards your larger health goals.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

Wellness: Practice Self Care. Make your wellness a priority and not an option. Start simple. Purposefully make one decision each day that is better for your brain and body. Small changes can lead to lasting habits.

Performance: Prioritize sleep. Keep in mind adults should sleep 7–9 hours per night and a third of adults do not get enough sleep.Sleep is necessary to consolidate our memories from the previous day and deprives our ability to learn and function optimally.

Focus: Pay attention! Be purposeful with your attention and focus. It is worth noting that our attention is one of our valuable resources and we have control over where we focus that attention. Our average attention span is dropping and we must work at focusing our attention and avoiding distractions. Finding ways to support yourself to maximize your focus can result in gains in attention and the gift of presence. This may take work but it can be worth it in the long haul.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

In recent years since my isolated seizure event, I have had to focus on the restfulness aspect of my personal wellness. During the time I was sick, I struggled with issues related to brain fog, focus, attention, memory, and sleep. Currently, I still have to work to prioritize the restfulness aspect of my brain health which includes sleep and my meditation practice is a work in progress.

Establish a sleep routine. As many people are adjusting to new routines, it is helpful to establish a sleep routine to prioritize healthy sleep habits. Consider activities that foster relaxation and promote restfulness such as: a hot shower, journaling, leisure reading, meditation, prayer and other bedtime rituals that enable one to wind down from the day. Avoid distracting activities that can strain the brain and eyes prior to bed such as watching television (consider removing the television from the bedroom) and exposure to blue light from electronic devices (cell phones, games). The blue light impacts your melatonin production which is important for your quality and quantity of sleep.

Set up a sleep routine with habits that encourage personal relaxation within a calming environment and note the difference.

Your breath is like a remote control for your brain and can be a powerful tool to utilize. I have found one breath technique from Yoga International to be helpful with falling asleep. After establishing effortless 2:1 breathing, begin counting breaths. Take: 8 breaths lying on your back, 16 breaths lying on your right side, 32 breaths lying on your left side. I have found breathing patterns that are simple to follow, personally helpful and this is one that I have yet to complete- which means I have fallen fast asleep. I hope it might be of use to others as well. Sweet dreams.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Keep hydrated. Drink water. Dehydration can impact the body and the brain in as little as 2 hours. The brain is comprised of about 75% water and when it becomes dehydrated the brain’s ability to function can be impacted such as focus, attention, memory, and mental clarity. Other body and brain symptoms may also present such as headaches, fatigue, low mood, and sleep issues. Being “thirsty” is not a good indicator to drink more fluids as we can already be dehydrated- having lost 1–2% of the body’s water content. It is important to make drinking water part of our daily routine as our brains are mostly water and use 20% of our body’s energy. Keeping our brains fueled and hydrated is critical for our health and wellness. Aim to drink 8- 8 ounce glasses of water per day.

2. Create a memory routine for your daily habits. Make your healthy habits such as staying hydrated coincide with a memory routine. If you commonly use a water bottle, make a routine to check for your bottle as you are leaving a room so you don’t accidentally leave it behind or lose it. Also, make a routine for when you fill up your water bottle or top it off. (This will serve as a reminder that you have your water bottle with you too throughout the day!) If you enjoy technology download an app that will track your water consumption as well to help you reach your daily hydration goals, too. As you track your progress on your phone this will also be another gentle reminder to check for your water bottle and to keep hydrated. As checking for your water bottle before you get up to leave a room becomes a habit- the less likely you will be to leave it behind!

3. Don’t waste your valuable time. Take 5 minute brain breaks. Build-in brain breaks throughout your day to optimize your brain performance and prevent fatigue and low mood. Breaks can be short and just a few minutes to offer benefits. Get up and move, do some light stretching, spend time with your pet, get outdoors, write in a gratitude journal, experience a good laugh, read a poem aloud, or dance to some of your favorite music- these are just a few examples of brain breaks. A brain break should be purposeful engagement in a brief, meaningful exercise or activity and a “break” from other tasks that require concentration and focus. Following a brain break, one should experience an uplift in mood and motivation. Take multiple brain breaks daily and use these as a tool to prevent tiredness, frustration, lack of focus, or feelings of low mood.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Memory routines can be expanded to meet a variety of health and wellness goals or to help with tasks that might be taking up more time from your day such as misplaced items. Creating routines for organization, convenience, and wellness can set us up for success.

Make a hydration routine until it is a habit. Track this via an app, tally on a piece of paper, or use a refillable bottle. Develop strategies to increase your water intake throughout the day that work for you such as: drinking a small glass of water in the morning with your vitamins or medications, using a reusable straw to increase fluid intake, utilizing a smaller glass vs. a large cup, keeping a pitcher of water in the fridge for use, or making a fruit/vegetable/spice infused water canister on the counter to catch your eye and thirst (apple cinnamon, cranberry sage, cucumber, lemon, etc.). Watch the clock and notice when you should refill your reusable water bottle to keep you on pace with your water intake goals and when to slow down to promote a restful night’s sleep. Find ways to support your goals until they become a habit.

Make brain breaks a fun “pick-me up”. Use brain breaks to your advantage. This might be a great time to go on a walk to refill your water bottle but also a break to get some steps into your day. Walk outside if you can. Look up at the sun- feel its warmth on your face and smile. Notice the clouds. Any shapes or messages that you see in them? Take in your surroundings or do some light stretching outdoors. Think about the “brain breaks” that you enjoy and have fun with them- maybe it is checking out a 5 minute Ted Talk, listening to your favorite song, or just sitting in silence. Do what feels right for you to unplug for a few minutes and reset the brain and body. Do this a few times each day.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

1) Focus. Pay attention! Be purposeful with your attention and focus. This may sound simple but attention it is the crucial first step to memory. If you are not paying attention to what you are doing (Ex- “where you are placing an object) your brain does not process the information into storage within your memory. You are unable to retrieve information from your memory that you did not process and store properly in the first place. Thus, attention is the initial step to memory! If you want to remember something- focus your attention for at least 8 seconds!

Notice when your attention may wander and aim to eliminate distractions such as your cell phone with text alerts, email, and music. When possible, set yourself up for success and avoid extra stressors to your brain via your senses. By having to filter out disruptive environmental sounds, disturbing odors, bright lights or other distracting objects in your visual field of view, your brain is working harder at its higher demand tasks such as paying attention and you may find yourself tired or fatigued earlier in the day.

2) Avoid multitasking. Just do not do it. When you notice you are trying to do more than one task- prioritize to focus on one thing at a time. Your brain will thank you and so will your productivity.

3) Use color to your advantage. Color is a strong stimulus to the brain as our brain can process visual information rapidly. Use color as a quick and easy way to spot an item you are looking for or to keep yourself organized. Create a color code for your daily calendar or use a colored pen for various tasks and notetaking (I prefer a Bic 4-color, retractable pen and here is my color coding system as a sample: black= standard, red= high priority, green= financial, and blue= special event.) If you commonly misplace your keys- place your keys on a bright colored key ring or lanyard to easily spot them. Research supports the use of color to help with attention such as yellow- I have yellow highlighters on hand at all times but this works well for me. See what color you are attracted to and use it to your advantage to spot items quickly, organize your calendar, and focus your attention to high priority tasks.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Set S.M.A.R.T. goals to develop a habit. Making your personal health and wellness a priority and not an option requires a mind shift but also a time shift. When the goal is to set up a new habit- set S.M.A.R.T. goals. Following the “smart” acronym for goal setting will help make habits (s= specific, m= measurable, a=achievable/attainable,
r= relevant/realistic, t= time-bound/timely). Making sure to set a goal that is realistic within a reasonable timeframe helps with the management of expectations to create a new habit and how to know that you have achieved your new habit.

For example, someone might be sleeping 4–5 hours per night and be working towards the goal of 7–9 hours of sleep per night. This change would require a change not only to sleep but daily life. The S.M.A.R.T. goal would be to add 1-hour of additional sleep within a 1-month. The person could aim to go to bed 15 minutes earlier for one week and gradually add 15 minutes of sleep in subsequent weeks to achieve his/her healthy sleep goal by the end of 1 month. Over the course of one month, one additional hour of restorative sleep could be added while slightly shifting daytime tasks to prioritize sleep. This S.M.A.R.T. goal could be achievable but if after 2 weeks and only 15 minutes of added sleep, the goal could be adjusted to reflect a realistic goal. The plan could be adjusted to 15 minute intervals, every 2-weeks, reaching the 1-hour goal within 2-months. Make S.M.A.R.T. goals achieve your healthy habits.

Set aside time daily to cool your brain, practice mindfulness, or meditate. Short prompts to practice mindfulness such as breathing techniques, gratitude exercises, minute mindfulness techniques, among other types of meditation can be introduced to your daily routine to support your well-being. Meditation is an excellent brain workout and studies have found numerous benefits for the brain. If meditation is not a daily part of your routine aim to add it in. Start with a shorter interval (a few minutes per day) and then work your way up to a longer interval (20+ minutes per day).

Keep in mind there are multiple types of meditation so you may have to try a few different types until you find one that resonates with you. Depending on the type of meditation being practiced, meditation has widely documented and powerful benefits on the brain including the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with memory. Meditation also has many health benefits for the body as well.

Memory Routines- Place items that are important to you in the same spot. Identify locations at school or home for high-value items such as your laptop, keys, glasses, and cell phone. When you go to place one of these items down- train yourself to use this same spot. This can save a lot of time looking for misplaced items!

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

Flow can also be linked to mindfulness such as the state of awareness that emerges from purposeful attention. When we practice being in the moment and having moment to moment awareness rather than drifting to moments that occurred in the past or moments that we are anticipating in the future- we can shift toward a state of flow. Removing judgement for the present moment and observing the moment- focusing on the task at hand- can bring about more moments of “flow” throughout one’s day. For many, practicing other aspects of mindfulness such as simple breathwork or breathing exercises can be a great place to start to hone one’s energy towards achieving a state of “flow” more readily.

Personally, when I recognize that I’m in a state of “flow” I will lean into it and aim to take advantage of this state of mental fluidity. I have found that one of the gifts of a migraine episode tends to be a creative burst or state of flow that comes with ease afterwards. I will maximize this time to work on tasks that are more demanding and that were challenging during the migraine episode. I also prefer to use this time to troubleshoot an issue or to think through an upcoming project as ideas are generated more quickly.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Make one healthier decision each day for your brain and body. Small decisions can have a large impact over time. We have the ability to have a lasting influence on our overall health and well-being and it is never too late to start a new health habit. As we shift towards making brain health a priority and not an option, it will be easier to keep our brains top of mind! Add 1 thing per day and over time, your day and life will look a lot heathier. Healthy brain, healthy life.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them ?

I am so grateful for this wonderful opportunity to share my passion about brain health with individuals looking for ways to build habits for optimal wellness, performance, & focus. I would gladly welcome the opportunity to connect with individuals looking for purpose for brain health optimization or those wanting to chat about the brain, dogs, or Ireland.

Also, a wise person once told me to never say never so a wild chance to grab a virtual coffee with Dr. Mayim Bialik, Ph.D. would be simply grand! It would be wonderful to learn from her experiences teaching about the amazing brain.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Readers can follow me @DrKrystalCuller on LinkedIn/Twitter/Instagram or @VirtualBrainHealthCenter on Facebook/ Instagram. To learn practical tips about brain health and daily life, I invite readers to join a class at the Virtual Brain Health Center or follow my blog series, EngAGE Your Brain, with Northeast Ohio Boomer & Beyond.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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