4 Ways to Take Good Care of Your Brain
Throughout our lives our brains remain “plastic,” meaning that they have the ability to change from the moment that we are born up until when we die. Dr. Michael Merzenich a leading expert in the field of neuroscience and writer of Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life provides some insight. He states that it is almost as easy to cause changes to the brain that can negatively impact brain function as it is to make positive changes that can lead to an improvement in memory or cognitive function. So, what are some ways to accomplish your best brain health by evoking neuroplasticity?
Meditation can help to shape our minds in ways that are beneficial to living a happy and healthy lifestyle. It has been shown that meditation can help to decrease stress, anxiety, and depression. However, it can take up-to 8 weeks of consistent practice to start feeling all of these amazing benefits. I suggest sticking with the practice for the full-period of time and then you can decide whether or not you’d like to continue. I tried it and I haven’t been able to stop since! There are many guided meditations available on YouTube.
Meditation and mindfulness are not the same thing. Mindfulness is the conscious practice of orienting your mind to focus exclusively on the present moment. To begin, close your eyes and bring your focus to your breath while giving yourself permission to dismiss any intrusive thoughts. You can practice for as long as you want but I’ll usually do it for 5 to 10 minutes and feel relaxed. My positive psychology professor introduced this concept to our class by having us practice for two minutes at the beginning of each class to get us to calm down and focus.
3. Try something new.
You brain needs to be challenged in order to grow and change. You need to push yourself to go outside of your comfort zone in order to experience the positive growth and change that you may be looking for. The brain has a tendency to just go into autopilot when your doing something that you usually do like playing the same video game for hours at a time. This is antagonistic behavior to positive mental-health and neuroplastic change.
Starting with the smallest changes can even make a difference. These changes can include using your non-dominant leg to start up a set of stairs, brushing your teeth with your other hand, using your mouse with your non-dominant hand, or taking a different route to your workplace than you normally would.
I’ve listed a few activities you can pursue in order to accomplish this:
Take an ethnic cooking class.
Learn a different language.
Read a book that outside of your favorite genre.
Listen to music outside of your favorite genre.
Try a different exercise at the gym.
Go to an indoor rocking climbing gym.
Go on a hike.
4. Take a vacation or a trip.
It doesn’t need to be to anywhere extravagant or exceptionally far away although it could be if you can afford it! You can easily take a trip to a place that you’ve never been to before somewhere in your town like a restaurant, park, or museum to experience neuroplastic benefits. This is due to the fact that exploring anywhere new can take your brain off auto-pilot mode which will lead to positive growth and change.
What helps you to have fun and unwind after a long week of work? I’d love to hear from you! 💜