mind & mental health expert

Dr. Caroline leaf

Dr. Caroline Leaf is a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist. Since the early 1980s she has researched the mind-brain connection, the nature of mental health, and the formation of memory. Dr. Leaf is also the host of an award-winning podcast, Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess, a bestselling author and creator of the brain detox app, Neurocycle

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It may be hard for those around you to understand what you are going through, sothey may either avoid you or try “fix” you as acoping mechanism. First, understand it’s not your job to make people feel better or more comfortable atyour own expense. Others never will fully understand and they should not tryuse understanding to be empathetic.

What may help in these situations are the following:

1.) Let people know when you are having a bad mental health day. You don’t have to explain what is going on—just let them know you may need extra attention or extra space today. 

2.) Have grace for those around you because they may be trying their best to help or be there for you. Let them know what helps or doesn’t help, if possible. 

3.) Talk to a therapist to get professional perspectives and advice. This can be a game changer!


Here are 3 tips for communicating effectively when your emotions are high:

1) Count to 30-90 seconds while deep breathing before you respond or say anything.

2) Before responding, PAUSE and think about what you want the outcome of this conversation to be.

3) Know that it is okay if you want to take a break and revisit the conversation later, but let the other person know this!


Next time you find yourself getting anxious because you think someone doesn’t like you or something is going to go wrong, ask yourself: “who told you that?”. Often, you’ll find that you don’t have an answer and your thoughts, while very real, are not true.


When you’re experiencing intense, “ugly” emotions, it can be hard to feel in control and work through these feelings. One thing I always recommend (it’s not easy but so effective!) is to ask yourself: “what can I learn from this?”. This simple question will make the biggest difference for your mental health!


Sometimes you may feel on top of the world, and other days you may feel like a complete mess, and that is okay! Mental health is not a “one-off” achievement, like winning a race, so don’t feel guilty if you have a bad or depressed day. Mental health is a DAILY practice, one which requires constant intention and planning. How can you make your mental health practice a daily ritual? What do you need to stop doing, and what do you need to do more of? Even if you feel like you are in a good place mentally now, don’t put off making good mental hygiene a daily priority. This is the best kind of preventative medicine, so when life gets hard and your mental health takes a hit, you are ready and have some good solid practices in place!