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Managing Your Stress Response with Dr. Greg Kelly

Greg Kelly is a Naturopathic physician (N.D.) and lead product formulator at Neurohacker Collective. Author of the book Shape Shift. Past editor of the journal Alternative Medicine Review and has been an instructor at the University of Bridgeport in the College of Naturopathic Medicine, where he taught classes in Advanced Clinical Nutrition, Counseling Skills, and Doctor-Patient Relationships. Naturopathic Doctor and subject matter expert on nutrition, wellness, and preventive medicine, with a solution-minded approach to problems and a broad scope of experience, including clinical practice, nutraceutical research & formulation, classroom and online education, medical writing and publication, corporate wellness, medical claims’ analysis, and development of IT solutions.


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How do you do show up as the best version of yourself?

We all have those days when we don’t show up as our best selves, but it really doesn’t help to beat yourself up about it. The solution could be quite simple.

Today I’m excited to welcome our special guest, Dr. Greg Kelly. Greg is a Naturopathic physician (N.D.), lead product formulator, and author.

In this episode, Greg shares the importance of understanding concepts and mental models, so you don’t blame ourselves for your behaviors. Being grouchy or irritable is a symptom that your mental energy is depleted. Often, all you need is an opportunity to recharge to show up as the best version of yourself.

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"It’s important to understand concepts and mental models so we don’t blame ourselves for our behaviors."

Dr. Gregory Kelly

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  • Cognitive skills are usually treated as if they are independent things.
  • Greg’s pyramid analogy suggests that some functions are foundational and others are higher up.
  • You only get to higher functions when foundational functions are in place.
  • For example, you can’t just jump to social cognition if the other levels of the pyramid have not been taken care of.
  • The base of the pyramid is vigilance or alertness.
  • Unless you are awake and alert you can’t get to memory.
  • Good sleep is a requirement for alertness.
  • The second level of the pyramid is the attention cognitive domain.
  • This includes skills like focus, concentration, and the ability to not get distracted.
  • We can’t get to executive functions if those aren’t in place.
  • The next level is executive functions.
  • This includes working memory, inhibition and cognitive flexibility.
  • If you want to be a high performer, this is the group of skills that allows us to be power performers.
  • For most people, the next level is social cognition.
  • This includes our ability to be in tune with our own emotional responses — self-reflection.
  • Another piece is our ability to pick up cues from body language.
  • The last part is empathy or the ability to forecast what others may be thinking or feeling.


  • When energy has been depleted — which can be easy when working in executive function all day — we have no energy left to tap into social cognition at the end of the day when we get back home to our loved ones.
  • It is very clear in brain research that energy is a depletable resource over the course of a day.
  • The other term used is ego depletion.
  • For most people, when energy is lost, they are robbed of social cognition.
  • A huge proportion of our energy for the brain is used for sensory input.
  • Another huge part of energy consumption is neurotransmission.
  • Mental energy can get depleted in certain areas of the brain while other areas might have plenty.
  • The most common reason people do not empathize is because of the effort it requires.
  • When there is not enough ability for effort, the easy thing is what the brain defaults to.
  • Social cognition for many people is an area that takes more effort and energy.
  • That is why people easily shut down if energy is already in short supply.


  • Our brain is always trying to make more ATP, so all we need is a pause when we get home to replenish.
  • It’s important to understand concepts and mental models so we don’t blame ourselves for our behaviors.
  • Often what we need is an opportunity to recharge to give our loved ones a better version of ourselves.
  • Give yourself the opportunity to rest after a long day.
  • Recognize that being grouchy and irritable is a symptom that your mental energy needs to recharge.
  • Recharging varies based on the world.
  • Ritualistic behaviors from a stress perspective tend to be very recharging.
  • Sometimes it’s just about quieting the outside world.
  • Examples of recharging include meditation, playing an instrument, or reading a newspaper.
  • It’s being able to do your own thing in an environment where there are no other demands for your time and attention.
  • Give yourself permission to rest.
  • You are not responsible for fixing everything that is broken all the time. You do not have to try to make everyone happy.
  • Make time for yourself to replenish and recover so you have the energy reserves to be able to feed the pyramid.
  • As a result, you can do your best, be your best, perform your best, and become the best version of yourself that you desire and deserve.


  • Take a screenshot of this episode, tag me on social media (@JimKwik), and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us.
  • Find out more about the Neurohacker Collective blog, here.
  • Get Greg’s book, Shape Shift, here.



For more on how to manage stress, check out these previous episodes:



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