Perhaps you have heard the buzz word, neuroplasticity. If you haven’t, you might be unaware of the scientific magic of increasing your willpower, motivation, happiness and health. Neuroplasticity is the revolutionary science behind creating new brain cells and rewiring brain circuitry to accommodate great change – the kind of change you have always dreamed about, but quickly lost your willpower to activate a couple of weeks after New Year’s. You can virtually mold your brain.
Butterflies experience one metamorphosis in their lifetime, while humans can experience many. Just make up your mind!
A growing number of neuroscientists and psychiatrists have been researching and fine-tuning neuroplasticity to successfully treat their patients. Dr. John Ratey, a Harvard psychiatrist, is an avid advocate of “exercise” your mind. Physical exercise releases BDNF – “miracle grow” for the brain. Working out creates new neurons in the brain and enhances those firing synapses; apparently, you can teach an old dog new tricks. And who among us has not felt clearer, sharper and less anxious after a good cardio burn?
Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz,a prominent researcher of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and neuroplasticity at UCLA, author of You are Not Your Brain
, clarifies the role of directed attention to counteract deceptive brain messages. Rewire the brain by reframing upsetting emotions with positive interpretations. Practice makes you more perfect.
Essentially, neuroplasticity gives you “mind” control over what your brain sees, hears and craves. You can virtually become more beautiful, empowered and younger – yes younger, because your brain is growing new brain cells and becoming less fixed and rigid. Little daily practices can change your brain to enjoy life, make peace with your emotions and insulate yourself against the assault of stress.
Here is how to access neuroplasticity:
- Exercise for a few power packed minutes daily. I have found that having a specific intention for an exercise session fortifies a new mindset: Think it and do it. For example, “Today I am strengthening my back to support me.” After exercising, I eat healthier because I’m proud of what my body does and want to give it the right kind of nourishing energy.
- Meditate for a few minutes every time you feel depleted, anxious, sad, or overwhelmed by technology. Closing your eyes and breathing more deeply brings oxygen to the brain and creates a more natural rhythm between heart and brain restoring the balance. In this relaxed state you can give your brain loving messages and new images to activate without judgment. Without fear of judgment you can implement new changes. If a distracting or bothersome feeling comes along, don’t suppress it. Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz advises to acknowledge it with mindfulness, realizing that the discomfort will diminish and ultimately disappear. A new value will be wired into the brain.
- Cultivate a positivity bias. Happiness and health will be accessed in a brain which grows more positive. Dr. Albert Levy, a professor at Mt. Sinai Hospital in NY explains that his angry, frustrated and unhappy patients tend to get sicker and have more physical ailments, while more positive patients are healthier and taker fewer medications. You can think yourself positive and then attract the positive into your life.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life
, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout
and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul,
a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com