Dr. Julia Jones: “Use Daylight (sleep is essential)”

Happiness is a core focus for emotional health, and I encourage people to think about maintaining brain chemicals that we know influence our emotions and the way we feel. For example, triggering dopamine and serotonin first thing in the morning sets up that brain chemistry early and helps increase the likelihood of you having a […]

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Happiness is a core focus for emotional health, and I encourage people to think about maintaining brain chemicals that we know influence our emotions and the way we feel. For example, triggering dopamine and serotonin first thing in the morning sets up that brain chemistry early and helps increase the likelihood of you having a good day.

Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?

As a part of our series about “How We Can Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Julia Jones.

Neuron Smart Wellness founder, Dr. Julia Jones, gained the nickname “Dr. Rock” because of her use of music and sound as a preferred brain tool to improve the health of her clients. She has spent a lifetime studying and applying neuroscience, cognitive psychology, behavioral science and “biohacks” that use simple techniques and tools (such as music) to optimize in-built biological systems.

Julia’s professional life began as a Sport and Exercise Scientist in the early 1990s. She worked as a physiologist and psychologist testing GB Olympic squads, helping athletes better control motivation, confidence, stress, sleep and anxiety through the use of music, visualization and self-hypnosis. As a practitioner, she set up one of the UK’s first GP Referral Programs connecting surgeries in South East England with local fitness professionals.

As an academic Julia has lectured at several Universities in the UK and overseas. Her MSc research examining the psychophysical effects of music synchronization on exercise endurance was presented at the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences, and published in the Journal of Sport Sciences. Julia’s PhD examined ‘music taste’ and the lifelong psychosocial effects of music memories from our youth. After completion of her doctorate Julia’s applied neuroscience training has continued at the King’s College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience. In 2020, her studies continued with online modules in the Analysis of Music at Oxford University and the science of nutrition and metabolic syndrome at Harvard Medical School. She gained her MBA and subsequently launched Found in Music Ltd in 2003, helping clients use music and behavioral psychology in customer facing experience. She also launched Music Diet Ltd in 2019 to provide a specially designed music-based workplace wellness program for employee wellbeing. In 2020, she co-founded JLP, a strategic advisory practice writing sound-based wellness and performance strategies for corporate, government and sports clients.

Julia has authored the first two books in her ‘Health Trilogy’: This first book in 2019 was ‘The Music Diet: A Rock & Roll Guide To A Healthier, Longer Life’. The second, ‘Neuron: Smart Wellness Made Easy’ was released in April 2021. Neuron Smart Wellness is Julia’s latest venture and a groundbreaking approach to health. In addition to her neuroscience, psychology and physiology credentials, Julia is also a certified personal trainer, sleep coach, holds multiple sports and performance coaching qualifications, and is a musician and DJ.

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 grew up in Pembrokeshire, Wales in the 1970s and ’80s. The coast is beautiful there and we had a boat, so most of my childhood was spent at the beach, swimming, fishing and having fun. Summers revolved around regular barbeques at the beach or in the garden with my mum, dad, sister and friends. My grandparents all lived in Pembrokeshire too. I was also a big tennis fan and a musician. In my first ‘Career Advice’ meeting at school I remember telling the teacher that I wanted to tour the USA in a band. She laughed politely, but I did actually manage to achieve that goal 15 years later and also got a publishing deal with a major music label. I toured the US three times in fact, in a red London double-decker bus that I ‘pimped out’. BBC America eventually sponsored my tour in 2007. Our max speed was 45mph so it took a while to get from NYC to LA, but we met a lot of great people during the journeys. Pembrokeshire is beautiful but as a teenager it seemed remote and a galaxy away from the more exciting world I saw on TV and in magazines. I eventually left my home town in the early 1990s and moved to the city to study Sport and Exercise Science.

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

While in Pembrokeshire I set up my first business as a tennis coach when I was 19, and also undertook a Sport and Exercise Science degree. During my studies I went on an exchange trip with UCLA in 1991. The person I was staying with was married to a senior officer in the US Navy. I got invited to visit the Naval Base at Coronado, CA, to swim in their superb outdoor pool and meet with their Physical Training personnel. This was my first introduction to techniques that are now known under the more recent term ‘biohacking’. I was fascinated to hear about the way they were using breathing techniques, visualization, and music. When I returned to complete my studies in the UK I stumbled across a music neuroscience article in 1993. This further fueled my interest in this science, especially around the power of sound. Being a musician I found this aspect supremely fascinating and powerful. After graduation I began using these techniques in my sport psychology work with GB Olympic squads and in the community working with private coaching clients and local NHS practitioners and surgeries. Now I have built 30 years of experience in this field, but that trip to Coronado certainly triggered the course of my professional journey. My Masters research and PhD all focused on various aspects of neuroscience, mental health and the use of music and sound.

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 worked with an amazing woman called Gail Callaway in the 1990s. She was the Hotel Manager where I was managing the Leisure Club in the basement of the hotel. It was a small, family-owned business; a slightly dilapidated, 100-bedroom, century-old hotel on the beach in the South of England. I explained my vision for building the small gym into an expansive member’s club, with the latest health, fitness and spa equipment. She helped persuade the owners to fund my expansion plans. By the end of the 1990s it had become a chain of highly profitable clubs. Gail got promoted to Operations Director, leading the expansion of the hotel chain across England. As she got promoted she took me up the ranks with her and was always a big champion of my ideas and vision. I became Leisure Director and together we rolled the health spa brand out across the new hotels that the company bought. It was an amazingly exciting time. We built a phenomenal health club chain in England that became a superb profit center for the still family-owned hotel group that housed them. These high- quality health clubs had also enabled us to successfully reposition the hotel group as a highly quality “spa hotel” chain. After a few years I decided I wanted to leave the company to return to University to complete an MBA to strengthen my business skills. Ironically, when I left Gail stayed and a few years later received shares in the growing company. It was later sold for £180 million and she received a large sum of money and never had to work again. We laughed a lot about the fact that I’d left to learn about business and if I’d stayed I’d be a millionaire. Sadly Gail developed early onset Alzheimer’s just a few years later and died in 2019, at just 57, so she didn’t get much time to enjoy the money. I’ve still got the wonderful reference she wrote for me when I applied for my MBA. This comment made me laugh, and still does!… “Julia works best when let off the lead.” ☺

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?

I’m a member of the voting academy for The Brit Awards (the UK’s Grammy equivalent). One year I was at the backstage party after the show and we were celebrity spotting and deep in conversation. I noticed that my bag was getting heavier. I turned around and realized that I’d been standing too close to a chocolate fountain and it had slowly been filling my open handbag with molten chocolate. It was also running down the back of my dress. Everyone found it extremely amusing. All I can remember is the feeling of panic because I’d actually borrowed that Gucci handbag from a friend. I spent most of the night in the hotel room trying to remove the now hardened chocolate from the lining!

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?

I read The Inner Game of Tennis by Tim Gallwey when I first began coaching tennis in the late 1980s. It fascinated me. It’s still on my shelf. That was the first time that I’d really contemplated the fact that we have a brain and we can exert control over it. That book paved a lifetime of interest in neuroscience and psychology. The contents weren’t just relevant to tennis (or sports in general), they apply to everything we do. My work now is very focused on helping people get out of the passenger seat and into the driving seat of their brain. I see myself as an educator first and foremost. I aim to take complex science and package it in a way that’s interesting, easy to understand, and simple to embed into everyday routines to help people live their best life.

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

“Choose to make time for your wellness now or you will be forced to make time for it later.”

Someone showed me this quote recently and it’s so true. We tend to put off things until they are critical and can no longer be ignored or left any longer. This doesn’t just apply to wellness. It’s also a common habit for essay writing and work deadlines. We have 3 months to complete the task but end up rushing it the night before it’s due. However, putting off wellness until it’s critical is a grave mistake and a super high-risk strategy. We now know that most of the chronic illnesses that are ruining our later life are linked to inflammation. This is a silent enemy that continues to lurk unnoticed, causing underlying damage inside us for decades until a chronic illness becomes visibly apparent and diagnosed. This commonly kickstarts decades of a spiraling journey of prescription medications that could have been avoided. This is why I’m championing the ‘Smart Wellness’ approach because these simple hacks and habits can easily be embedded in daily routines and become the new normal. Meaning that you’re taking care of wellness without even having to think about it. These habits simply become your new normal. No gym or restrictive diet required. My dad paid the price for ignoring wellness. He died of a fatal heart attack at a hotel in Torquay while celebrating his 65th birthday and retirement with my mum. He’d stubbornly ignored his health for decades, despite continuous weight gain, high blood pressure issues, and advice from myself and his doctors. I’m keen to help others avoid that fate.

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

I’m super excited about the new ‘Smart Wellness’ approach because I really do think that it has the potential to finally help people maintain their health. It was abundantly obvious even by the early 2000s that the typical diet and fitness approach was not producing long-term changes in people’s health. These outdated approaches are too inefficient, require too much effort, and don’t effectively trigger our ancient biological systems in a way that attracts us towards doing these activities. Consequently, most people have to force themselves to maintain diet and fitness focused routines. This is why they give up. I realized that going to the gym was taking 2.5 hours out of my day by the time I’d got into exercise clothes, driven there, put my bag in the locker room, done the workout, had the shower, got dressed and driven home. Now I get the equivalent health benefit by simply spending a few minutes a day embedding some easy habits in my routine and hacking my environment (e.g. I moved my printer upstairs so I have to regularly hike up there to retrieve paperwork, I bought a stand up desk, and bought smaller mugs so I make more trips to my coffee machine in the kitchen). I also changed my dog walking route to incorporate a steep hill, instead of walking along the flat beach as I’d done for years. I’ve won back more than 6 hours a week by changing simple habits in my routine instead of going to the gym. I cancelled my gym membership and spent the money on a gut bacteria test and inflammation test and an Oura ring so I can monitor my wellness scores. Within 12-months my weight, strength, sleep and focus ability had reverted back to the levels I was experiencing in my 20s, despite the fact I am now in my 50s. The transformation was incredible, and it was just by embedding smarter wellness habits in my daily routine. My journey is documented in my new book because I know these principles can definitely help millions of people like me. I am working with the NHS on this approach in the UK. Prevention is better than cure. We need to show people the easiest route to maintaining good health and the smart wellness habit-based approach appears to be that.

I’ve also recently been appointed to The Innovation Board in the UK alongside leading tech entrepreneurs and Stanford University psychologists. My intention is to disrupt the status quo right now and encourage people to embed smart wellness habits into their routines. These are simply the natural end of what’s become known as biohacking. So, in other words the use of daylight, timed eating, sound, slow motion strength movements, breathing practices, deep rest and relaxation practices such as meditation, gratitude etc. These habits are extremely powerful and fast and easy to do. I’m also keen to champion and promote the difference between wellness and fitness. For decades we’ve been telling people to “get fit and stay fit”. But, in fact, we only need to “get well and stay well”. In other words, never get ill. You can maintain baseline wellness with very little exercise as long as you’re on top of your nutritional habits, sleep quality, and stress levels. The aim is simply to keep your ancient biological systems working optimally. They are thoroughly confused by the modern world we have created. The booming fitness industry is probably not going to want to promote this message because at face value it somewhat undermines the very successful business model that’s been driving decades of growth in that sector. So, we need other people to be championing this message and spreading the knowledge. All these smart wellness principles are based in a strong, scientific evidence base. I believe that spending your money on wellness wearables and lab tests is a much better use of your cash than a gym membership. If you have sufficient money to do both then great. But if budget is an issue I would recommend (i) joining a Facebook group to find like-minded people who can support your journey and (ii) buying tech and tests that can give you the data you need to keep you on track. I am also keen to help show the traditional fitness industry that embracing this smart wellness approach can actually enhance and expand their business model rather than undermine it. I see the future role of a “fitness instructor” as being more like an “accountability partner” checking in with clients and helping them embed good daily habits. Rather than expecting them to invest hours of their day attending a gym class. Time is a precious commodity. We must use it well.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Use Sound

The ears lead to the brain, not a dead end. Every sound triggers an electrochemical response in multiple regions of the brain. This makes sound and music a very powerful tool that can almost instantly change our mood, energy levels, brainwaves, thoughts and decisions. Use high energy music when you need a mental boost. Use more chilled soundscapes when you need to power down, especially in the evening when getting ready for sleep. Synchronize your breathing with slow music to amplify the effect. This provides an exceptional training opportunity for our vagus nerve that dominates our ability to manage stressors. There is a reason that elite military and elite athletes use music and sound. It works. We should all be using it on a daily basis as part of our routine. Many people don’t consider the power of sound and music for mental wellness. Think carefully about the soundscapes or songs that work best for you and use them regularly. One of my “go-to” songs for powering down is “San Andreas Fault” by Natalie Merchant. It’s a good tempo (speed) for me to slow my breathing and it also evokes feel good memories of the first time I drove down the Pacific Coast Highway with the roof down and the music loud. Choose songs that are personal to you in order to boost their effect.

2. Use Daylight (sleep is essential)

Sleep is an absolutely essential pillar of mental wellness. Our biology simply doesn’t function optimally if our sleep quality is impaired. It affects everything. Most people don’t realize that our sleep quality is dictated largely by our eyes. The cells at the back of our eye are connected to neurons (nerve cells) in our brain that control the release of our sleep chemical melatonin. The simple act of popping outside early in the morning to expose our eyes to natural daylight tells our brain to start our sleep timer. Don’t look directly at the sun though because that’s damaging of course. Once you’ve triggered that ancient timer system you then just need to make sure you don’t mess it up later in the day by drinking caffeine or exposing the eyes to blue light through bright overhead lights of tech device screens. To avoid this pitfall use blue light blocker glasses if you can’t avoid screen use. Also switch off bright overhead lights in the evening and simply use dimmed lamps instead. A bright overhead light tells your brain the sun is still out. It doesn’t yet know we’ve invented light bulbs and computer screens. If you want it to release melatonin to help ease you into sleep you need to ensure you do not send that message at night. Hack your environment and habits.

3. Use Fuel

The relationship between our nutritional habits and our mental wellness is now undisputed in the scientific literature. The Gut-Brain-Axis means that the things we eat have a significant impact on our mental wellbeing. So, we need to think very carefully about what we are putting in our mouth. Food is medicine. Food is fuel. But, we’ve positioned food as entertainment and leisure over the past 50 years. Our processed foods habits are deadly. Last year I spoke at the Neuromarketing World Forum. That’s a whole industry that has evolved because manufacturers and retailers use brain science to influence your purchasing decisions. Remember that. Stay out of supermarkets and set up a weekly delivery of fruits and vegetables. Get the food delivered to your home so you spend less time visiting the persuasive supermarket environment. For added benefits get a gut microbiome test so you can discover precisely which fruits and vegetables to eat for maximum nutritional effect. I’ve recently launched a service in the UK whereby we test the client’s gut microbiome and then use the results to ensure they receive the exact fruit and vegetables, delivered to their door each week. All they have to do is eat it. I’m trying to make it as easy as possible for people to avoid supermarket environments and stock their fridges and cupboards with the right contents. We’ll be expanding this service globally this summer. I don’t endorse a life of restriction by the way. I still eat chocolate (now dark, not milk), drink alcohol, eat bread (now sourdough) and go out for meals with friends. BUT, I now do those things as a treat on weekends rather than every day.

Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.

Since the 1990s I have used breathing practices, muscle relaxation, visualization, and sound/music, to switch between brain states. There is a lot of crossover between various practices but the principles are similar. If you train yourself to enter different brain states (e.g. super focus versus super relaxed) you’ll get better at it and that’s good for your wellness. I simply encourage people to use whatever they prefer. As long as it’s enabling them to slow brain waves and control stress and improve focus then they are benefiting. Some choose meditation, some choose mindfulness, some choose yoga, some choose self-hypnosis, some choose breathwork. Some prefer to not think of their practice as something that has any of those labels attached to it. My main professional focus for decades has centered on the challenge of reaching the ‘non responders’. In other words, the people who despite decades of encouragement, and plenty of access, have not, and will not, find the concept of ‘meditation’ or ‘yoga’ or ‘fitness’ appealing. This doesn’t matter. There are other ways to achieve those wellness benefits. I’m keen to push the notion of simply learning to slow down our brain activity and gain the skill of entering alpha and theta brainwaves at will. For one person yoga might be how they achieve that. Another person might do it with mindfulness practice, or meditation, or self-hypnosis etc. The important thing is that, however they do it, they do it regularly. If you do not embed this practice in your routine and have a high stress lifestyle you can literally frazzle out your cells due to the heightened cortisol and glutamate levels in the brain. Regular practice reduces the risk and rate of cell death.

Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

I’ll keep this one brief because it’s simpler than people might think.

1. Walk more

We were designed to walk a lot. This movement (especially when done outdoors) triggers a multitude of internal biological systems that trigger a relaxation response. In addition, the movement helps several circulatory systems in our brain and body function well. Add hills or inclines, and nature environments, into your routes for added benefit. Avoid indoor treadmills as they are not giving you the same benefits as the forward moving motion of walking outdoors. Use stairs instead of the elevator. Change your habits.

2. Lift more

The natural decline of muscle tissue is an extreme problem. It’s not only linked with increasing frailty in later years but also the gradual decline of our immune response. So, it’s absolutely imperative that we frequently stress our muscles throughout life to maintain this tissue. I love the slow-motion strength advice of Dr. Doug McGuff. This approach is so simple. Just do slow motion push-ups, or slowly sit and stand repeatedly until your muscles reach failure and you have to stop. This depletion of your muscle fuel triggers complex chemical cascades that tell your brain and body systems to rebuild muscle tissue.

3. Stand more

We’ve spent decades inventing things that make life “easier” and consequently we sit down a lot during our lifetime. We sit in cars, we sit in front of the TV, we sit at our desks. This habit is extremely dangerous. Our brain and body suffer greatly from this level of inactivity. I bought a cheap stand-up desk that is easily assembled and sits on top of my table. I highly recommend this to everyone. Our comfortable sofas should really come with a health warning. They have made it far too easy to remain in a seated position for several hours at a time. In comparison try sitting on a hard chair or on the floor. It’s unlikely you’ll spend as long there as in your comfy sofa.

Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

Our poor nutritional habits are the core problem at the heart of impaired wellness. One of the main issues is that the information regarding what we should and should not be eating has been fragmented, outdated, badly communicated, confusing, not aligned with our ancient biology, and in some cases deliberately misleading. I called out one potato chip manufacturer on social media last year because they displayed “99 CALORIES” on the front of the bag but on closer inspection I noticed tiny print that explained this figure was “per 45g” not per the 65g bag it was displayed on. This type of intentional misrepresentation needs to be stopped. The Royal Society for Public Health in the UK is focusing in on such “food fraud”. I noticed it again this week when reading a packed of breaded fish fingers that displayed “100% fish fillets” but in the small print it said “contains 56% fish”. I encourage people to think about it much more simply. Avoid things that have been made by humans in a factory. Treat those as occasional treats. Let natural fruits and vegetables dominate your diet and eat them with healthy proteins. I think the fast growth of the gut microbiome testing is going to help disrupt our nutritional habits. As I mentioned earlier, I’m fully focused on keeping people out of the supermarket environment. I’m testing people’s gut bacteria and sending exactly what they need to eat to their door in my local area. I dropped down to 58kg by doing this. I’m now in my 50s and haven’t been 58kg since I was in my 20s! I’ve also been intermittent fasting 4 times a week (simply delaying my breakfast a few hours and eating dinner earlier) to help give my cells a break so they can complete their housekeeping tasks.

I’m currently discussing a potential study with a Brain Institute in Paris, using headphones and playlists to help people focus on shopping lists when entering the influential supermarket environment. It creates an effective ‘acoustic bubble’ and blocks out some environmental stimuli. This will help people avoid temptation of the unhealthy foods that are being marketed to them in-store using neuroscience techniques.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Happiness is a core focus for emotional health, and I encourage people to think about maintaining brain chemicals that we know influence our emotions and the way we feel. For example, triggering dopamine and serotonin first thing in the morning sets up that brain chemistry early and helps increase the likelihood of you having a good day.

– Make your bed

A simple tasks to action completed will trigger the self-reward response of positive brain chemicals.

– Practice gratitude

Again, an easy way to trigger positive brain chemicals. I simply sit with my dog while my coffee is brewing each morning and chat about the things we’re grateful for. It doesn’t have to be deep meaningful stuff. Sometimes, we’re just thankful it’s stopped raining!

– Get early daylight exposure outdoors

As mentioned earlier, sleep is an essential foundation of emotional health and regulated by our ancient circadian timer that’s calibrated by light. I step outside into the garden with my dog every morning as one of my first habits.

Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.

Yes I do. I was reading some great research literature a few weeks ago that demonstrated the effect of not just smiling but also posture, on cortisol levels. Our physical position, expressions, and associated nervous system responses can exert bi-directional influences. So, when we smile or stand in a confident, upright position we feel less stressed and more in control. I encourage clients to think about their posture and expressions and embed them as good positive habits.

Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

I believe it’s important to make time to connect to a deeper meaning of life. We live in a world that tends to make us surf at high speed at just a superficial level. As humans we are much more than this modern existence. So, it’s great practice to spend time exploring your inner thoughts. I have been practicing this since I began using it with elite Olympic athletes in the 1990s. Any deep rest practice that you prefer can give you this opportunity to depart from your busy brain and sink deep into your thoughts and explore your own deeper meaning and purpose in the universe. Being able to slow down your brainwaves and enter these altered states at will is a powerful tool.

I do this:

– Switch to soft gaze vision

Let your focus soften so you can see your periphery and your entire surroundings. This helps engage your nervous system’s relaxation response, especially if you’re outdoors in a natural environment.

– Daydream

I was constantly scolded for letting my mind wander during classes in school. However, it turns out that mind wandering is actually good for us. It’s very natural for our brain to frequently switch into this mode (known as the ‘default mode network’). So, give yourself time to daydream and contemplate things that are beyond the immediate hectic nature of your immediate surroundings and work schedule. Let your mind wander frequently.

– Form a dynamic duo relationship with your breath

The ability to control our breathing rate is an underrated superpower in my opinion. This is a natural act that happens automatically in order to keep us alive. But, at any moment in time we can switch off the ‘auto pilot’ system and take control of our breathing rate. This enables us to really connect deeply with our body and brain. It’s an incredible gift. Pay attention to your breathing regularly.

Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?

The entire smart wellness approach focuses on our ancient biology. So, being in the natural outdoor environment has a huge influence on us in many ways. I know many people choose to visit a gym environment to pound out a run under bright lights and with high intensity music. However, that’s an unnatural thing to do and in many cases is triggering a sympathetic nervous system response (our stress response). In comparison, walking or hiking through natural terrain, in rain or shine, triggers our natural evolutionary systems. The forward motion, and the way our brain captures visual information as our surroundings move past us, helps calm us (unless you’re walking in a stressful environment of course). Regular walking outdoors is known to reduce cortisol and boost immunity. In addition, there is rising interest about the role of phytoncides, given off by trees. I particularly notice the aroma during early mornings in the spring and summer when I ride my motorcycle with an open face helmet. The scent is incredible as you’re riding through it.

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.

I’m very intent on getting this ‘smart wellness’ approach out to people right now because I believe it can help people identify and fix their health habits. The global pandemic highlighted with great effect the fact that more than five decades of diet and fitness focused trends, and their billion-dollar campaigns, failed to produce healthy nations. There is a scientific reason for this, and it lies in our biology. Telling people to eat healthily and ‘get fit’ is not going to work. It would have done so by now. The ‘smart wellness’ approach uses hacks that efficiently and naturally target our key biological systems in order to keep them working optimally with minimum effort. It also uses the incredible and affordable tech wearables that are now easily available. At the extreme end of the smart wellness continuum, you have the biohacking community who are taking vast ranges of supplements and using invasive techniques to experiment on longevity. But at the other end of the smart wellness continuum there is a collection of simple, easy, free hacks that everyone should embed in their daily routine. Simple things like getting outside for early light exposure to start our in-built sleep timer (the superchiasmatic nucleus in the brain that inhibits the pineal gland to dictate when our sleep chemical, melatonin, is released). Also, the more intentional use of sound and music to help regulate the way we feel.

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 🙂

Yes, MacKenzie Scott. She seems incredibly grounded and, therefore, I think she’s going to have a powerful, positive effect on the world. I’d love to hear her ideas for levelling up wellness across communities.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

My new book ‘Neuron: Smart Wellness Made Easy’ is available at my website www.drjuliajones.com

There’s also a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/drjuliajones and I’m also on Twitter as @DrRockUK (occasionally also popping up on Instagram as @DrRockUK)

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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