I am passionate about sharing. Sharing my story and telling people there is another way. Another way to manage your emotions, manage how you respond in any given situation and to manage that inner voice, which if left unchecked, can wreak so much havoc. I am also passionate about sharing with others what I’ve learnt along my journey about the powerful link between the gut and our mental health.

We can turn on the stress response by just thought alone.

Dr Joe Dispenza

This incredibly powerful statement is something I learnt at the age of 40. I now use it as a mantra to stop my inner negative voice, and I share this statement often with others in the hope to enlighten them about the power of their brains.

My story, my journey, was one of depression & anxiety, even as far back as childhood. These illnesses heightened in my teens and carried on through my 20s and 30s. In my 30s, I was sitting on the couch one night when I described to my husband that I always felt locked on, like I could not relax and was always ready to go. 

A few weeks later, someone taught me what the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system were, and that you could get locked on in your “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system. I was hooked! This was the explanation of the biological process happening in my body I was trying to describe to my husband that night on the couch. I was hooked, and I had to know more. 

To that point, I went on to study neuroscience and its application in leadership, initially on a personal journey of discovery rather than leadership development. The application of the neuroscience in a leadership setting came later, but I have never looked back. Today, we are seeing the greatest leadership advancement I have witnessed in my career, and companies like the About my Brain Institute are advancing a field that is necessary for society to evolve.  

The Pieces Of The Puzzle Started To Fall Into Place

My 30s continued to be an amazing discovery of gathering new information and pulling together pieces of the gut/brain puzzle which helped me to understand how important our overall wellness is. I learnt that neurochemicals such as dopamine and cortisol impact on our happiness and our stress and anger levels.  I learnt that we can modulate these chemical processes by being mindful of physiological states and implementing emotion regulation strategies like labelling and reframing or “changing the story we are telling ourselves.” 

I learnt that being curious activates different networks in our brain and this is powerful in turning down the stress response. I learnt that the brain is a limited resource and sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to switch off completely and let the mind wander. 

I learnt that there are highly complex processes in our body that take one chemical and turn it into another chemical by a process called methylation, which occurs in the liver, and if one small thing is out of order with this process it has a massive impact on our mental health. I learnt that foods and lifestyle habits play a huge role in that process as well. 

I have made significant changes to my diet by supplementing the vitamins and minerals my body is lacking, and I call on neuroscience-based emotion regulation techniques and essential oils daily for optimal brain function. My life has been transformed by learning and implementing these changes. 

Having learnt all of this, I look back on the poetry my 15-year-old self wrote and I know that she was likely experiencing some form of methylation issues, was lacking base vitamins and minerals in her diet and was constantly turning on her stress response by thought alone. 

Through practising gratitude, also a powerful neurotonic, I have the grace to be thankful for the journey I have been on and the voice to share this with others so that they too may have hope that there can be another way. 


Anger subsides in my heart and takes hold like a chronic disease.
Eating away at my soul,
Bringing down my hopes.
Some days it goes into remission
Others it takes hold
It’s iron strengths forbidding any escape
No cure strong enough to bring release
Stages of denial bring floodings for grief
There seems no way to cease this pain.

Kathryn Hossack, age 15. 1995


It took me over 20 years of pulling together pieces of the puzzle, but the moment I came across the About my Brain Institute and Silvia Damiano, I knew I had found something incredibly special as finally someone was diving into the science behind the gut-brain connection and presenting it in a way that made sense.  

The missing pieces of my puzzle were finally revealed when completing the i4 Neuroleader Certification and the insights gained from this program were deeply personal and rewarding. If my story resonates with you, I encourage you to explore what the About my Brain Institute has to offer.

Originally posted on: 27 August 2019
Last updated on: 20 May 2024
Kathryn Van Der Steege

Kathryn Van Der Steege

i4 Neuroleader Certified Trainer
As an executive with 23 years in the industry, I have built extensive experience developing and supporting retail technology and leading cross-functional teams across highly complex technical landscapes.

Complimenting my deep understanding of retail business and culture are academic qualifications in management and a diploma in Neuroscience for Leadership and a Brain-Based Coaching qualification.

I am a dynamic leader with expertise in short- and long-term strategic planning, transition management, software development and delivery, organisational change, continuous improvement and business administration. All underpinned with an exceptionally high emotional intelligence which generates influential leadership and mentorship to those I work with.

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