Ep. 219: Dr. Kristen Race – Balance Your Brain for a More Balanced Life

If you’re a regular listener, then you know that mental health is a very important topic to me. Mindfulness is something we can all learn to practice to help deal with the stress of life. I saw today’s guest on a TED talk, and I knew I had to bring her to the show.

A self-described “brain geek,” Dr. Kristen Race has spent the last 12 years exploring the nexus between mindfulness and neuroscience. She is the author of Mindful Parenting, the founder of Mindful Life, and Head of Mindfulness at Solvasa, a pioneer in integrative beauty. Dr. Race has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, CNN, and many more. She’s taught her mindfulness methods to over 50,000 worldwide leaders, including Sheryl Sandberg and Sara Blakely. 

The accidental entrepreneur

What did you want to be when you were young? The truth is that most of us end up being something totally different than those original dreams. Young Kristen wanted to be an Olympic gold medalist, and it didn’t matter to her what sport it would be. Later, she wanted to be a teacher, mainly because of some inspiring and impactful teachers she had. Kristen started her career as a teacher before her path took some interesting twists and turns. From teaching, she moved into mindfulness, which was a natural flow for Kristen. She was drawn to struggling students and wanted to develop helpful tools for them, so she got a master’s degree in Educational Psychology, and then went on to obtain a doctorate in Child, Family, and School Psychology with an emphasis in neuroscience. Working as an intern in both a high-risk, high-need school and a wealthy independent school allowed her to see incredible levels of stress and anxiety in students. A personal autoimmune disease crisis led Kristen to try mindfulness tools with students, so she formalized a curriculum and began training teachers and parents before she moved on to the world of corporate training. 

TWEET: Most of us end up being something totally different than our original dreams. @DrKristenRace #chasingdreams

Why trying–and failing–are good for kids

Do you like to fail? None of us enjoy the feeling of failure, but it’s necessary for us to experience growth and learning. When we put too much structure on our kids, we don’t allow them to try new things. Part of learning includes taking risks, failing, and getting back up again. It’s the getting back up again that builds resilience. Kids need to have room to negotiate difficult social situations. We can help kids with the stress response in their brains to stress by teaching them to solve problems, control behaviors, think positively, and engage with others. Kristen explains her PBR method for handling stress triggers. 

TWEET: Failure is necessary for us to experience growth and learning. @DrKristenRace #chasingdreams

Take care of yourself

How well do you take care of yourself? Do you feel the need to respond immediately to every single email? Do you feel pressure on the weekends or on days off to be available for work 24/7? If you can’t pull back and give yourself time away from work, then you are adding unnecessary stress to your life. Some organizations realize this, and they are mandating “no email Saturdays” to guard against stressing out their employees. Employers and employees alike need to step up and make clear the expectations on response times; this will help keep people from being stressed out and burned out in their jobs. You can’t sacrifice yourself for any job. Kristen explains how mismanaged stress will take a heavy toll on your health. 

TWEET: You can’t sacrifice yourself for any job. @DrKristenRace #chasingdreams

Guest Recommendation: ONE action for a dream chaser to take–”At the end of each day, think of three good things that happened that day. Share them with someone, or at least write them down. Studies show that forming this habit for two weeks will lead to a significant increase in happiness, a decrease in anxiety and depression, better sleep quality, and better work/life balance.”


  • [:51] Young Kristen’s dreams and the path to entrepreneurship
  • [11:06] Why all these stressed-out students?
  • [14:11] Why kids need to try new things—and fail
  • [17:24] How we can help turn the tide
  • [24:37] How we respond to create better solutions
  • [28:40] You don’t have to respond immediately to every email
  • [31:00] The benefits of gratitude
  • [35:01] Take care of you
  • [37:27] PBR isn’t a “one and done” practice
  • [42:09] ONE action for a dream chaser
  • [47:12] Get to know Kristen better


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Today’s show sponsor: Your Personal Hype Man Podcast  

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Kids feel our stress and take it in, but they don’t know how to process it. @DrKristenRace #chasingdreams

It became clear to me that the stressed students were products of their stressed-out parents. @DrKristenRace #chasingdreams

Students today have very little free time for unstructured play, which is changing the ways their brains develop. @DrKristenRace #chasingdreams

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