Brain Power...Thinking your way to better health!
Updated: Aug 16, 2020
Whether you've heard the terms 'neuroplasticity or neuroscience' doesn't really matter. You've probably come across the concept that 'what you think about you bring about' or that your thoughts become your reality. Some call it the Law of Attraction, others just simply believe that we create our own destiny. Whatever your belief system science is now proving to us that our thoughts do indeed create our reality for us, and that we can have control over that creation if we so chose.
Quickly on that note, I do believe that if you think and act in a positive and actionable way then you can bring more good into your life, but action is key. We've all experienced it in some way like holding a door for a person and then finding a fiver on the ground, or putting all your emotion and energy into wanting something to have it randomly appear for you when you least expect it. Could be coincidence, could be luck, could be energy working with us or for us...verdict is still out on that one.
Whatever the mystery, science is now focusing on how these phenomenons, miracles, coincidences, life altering events in some cases, actually happen. As it turns out our brains and conscious minds are even more impressive and capable than we often given them credit for.
Now if your still with me, and I hope you are, lets look at Neuroplasticity...long name but simply put 'wiring and firing' of neurons in your brain.
- These actions happen constantly in response to new information, learning and development, damage, and even dysfunctions within the brain.
- Neurons fire to send information to specific areas of the brain initiating an action, response or emotion. - Just like walking the same route every day we begin to wear a path in our brains by thinking the same thoughts and doing the same actions day in and day out, be it good or bad. These are called habits, some we form as we grow, and others are embedded in us from birth (like breathing).
Our brains are designed to conserve energy and so in most cases will take the path of least resistance to get the result it's after, regardless of whether that is joy or anger. Just think for a second how fast you can go from being in a good mood to completely irate because you stubbed your toe or got cutoff in traffic. Why, because it's a well worn path to a familiar emotion. The same applies to the food choices we make and the level of exercise we engage in daily.
So lets think about this from the perspective of your health for a moment and maybe with a little effort you'll be able to stop and uncover some subconscious habits you didn't even know you had.
- Take dessert after a meal for example, this is not necessary but it's a habit that likely began in childhood and was never stopped or changed. Or like eating warm, tasty comfort foods when we are sick or sad, again not beneficial to us in any physical sense but psychologically it makes us feel better.
Our reward center in the brain is very complex and linked to more areas than just food. Very few, including myself can say they have it mastered, me and chocolate still have our struggles most days but I at least know I'm in control of the relationship now. You too can take back control in areas of your life you are not satisfied with, it's just a matter of pushing out of your comfort zone for a week or so while the brain and body adjust to a new set of behaviors that will ultimately become new healthier habits.
**It is important to note that you will feel like crap doing this, it will be hard, and your brain will try every trick in the book to try and keep your mind from taking back control.
- Remember the brain likes comfort and ease and breaking old habits to form new ones does all the things the brain is designed to "protect you" from. We all know it's better to eat the apple than the donuts and it's just a habit or series of habits that result in you going for the donuts instead.
Start by writing down 3 'habits' you have that you'd like to change, and then think about the actions that end up resulting in the 'habit' that may need to change in order to help you succeed.
Example: You are always running late in the morning and so don't have time for breakfast, this leads to excess caffeine and maybe a poor food choice at 10 am when you are starving and the brain just wants glucose.
First: Look at why you are running late - Do you hit snooze, do you stay up too late, do you hate where you have to go when you wake up? The list could be long...
Second: Look at what might help you to make changes in this area - Go to bed 30-60 min earlier, put the alarm or phone across the room, look at a career path that might make you feel better about yourself, or whatever other reasons you have...
Third: Prep to succeed regardless - Make a shake the night before so you can grab and go, have porridge ready to take with you so you can eat when you get to your desk, start by getting up 10-15 min earlier just to give yourself enough time so that you are not starting your day in a state of stress (this can have some of the worst long term effects on health).
Now the above is just a very basic example that most people can relate too. Dietary habits are often more complex and harder to correct, but it is possible. We all have the means to create the lives and bodies we would love and there are many ways to get there without feeling restricted or guilty (which coincidentally can trigger the reward center in the brain, leading to the down fall of many dieters when they 'fall off the wagon' so to speak). That is an area for another post though.
So in conclusion if you know you want to change and you know you should, then know you can! The power is literally there for you to tap into and utilize. It's your brain, your body, and your mind so don't be fooled by your own self. Take the first step and note the habits you have that aren't working, then be aware of them and the corrective actions you can take to change those habits. If you don't feel you have the means or tools to create new ones on your own, contact me and I can help you get started because a little guidance can go a long way.