How To Change Your Brain For The Better

Your brain is truly remarkable. It influences the functioning of practically every other part of your body. Yet so often we spend more time and energy tending to our bodies than to our brain and nervous system.

This may be in part because our knowledge of the brain’s functioning is relatively new and still expanding. It takes time for research to be widely disseminated and distributed in a way that a wide audience can absorb and act on it. As science advances, the facts are becoming clear. We really can benefit from actively tending to our brain’s health.

Until quite recently, experts believed that our brain was completely formed in our younger years and that it changed little, if at all, once we reached adulthood. We now know that the brain is an amazingly pliable organ, changing all the time in response to our activities, our experience and the stimuli in the world around us.

The brain has a marvelous plasticity. It is continually creating fresh connections and establishing new pathways that collectively create our ability to think, reason, remember and respond to information, experiences, and challenges. Most of these changes occur naturally, beneath the level of our conscious mind, at the subconcsious and unconcsious level.

An abundance of research has now proven that we can influence these brain changes and improve our brain functioning on many levels. Several factors contribute to how the brain alters and adapts as we age. We can foster positive changes using some of the same methods that we rely on for physical wellbeing, while adding on activities designed specifically for our brain’s health. Here are a few useful tips on how best to treat your brain – and yourself – in the best possible way.

Eat Right: A healthy diet is as essential for our brain as it is for our body. Many of the nutrients needed for physical health also support brain health. We know, for example, that Omega-3 fatty acids have benefits for heart health. Recent research shows they also play a key role in the brain’s structure and cognitive functioning. Similarly, vitamin D supports bone strength, but also appears to be linked to mental health. Some experts believe that many people with depression have a vitamin D deficiency. Brain and body really are inseparable. What you put into one you put into the other. Research shows that eating a wide variety of different foods, and focusing on a largely plant-based, whole foods menu, is one of the very best ways to ensure both brain and body health.

Exercise Regularly: Aerobic activity delivers more oxygen rich blood to the brain. This aids its ability to process new information and also improves memory function. Research has also demonstrated that exercise of almost any kind affects brain chemistry, improving mood and alleviating negative mental states such as anxiety. If you’re already exercising, then keep it up. If it’s not, work it in. It needn’t cost money. Go for a brisk walk, jog, cycle, chase the kids around the yard. The research is conclusive; exercise has an ongoing positive effect on brain and body. And don’t forget to take time to relax. Mediation, or self hypnosis for stress reduction and relaxation is an excellent way of doing this.

Challenge the brain: Just like the body, the brain needs to be kept agile. Just like a muscle, it needs to be used in order to develop and remain healthy. Specifically target your brain health by frequently presenting it with new cognitive challenges. Do a crossword or Sudoku puzzle. Memorize your favorite poem, speech, or excerpt from a book. Play games that challenge your memory or require problem-solving skills. Research has shown that a lifetime of mental challenges produces a healthier brain, leading to slower cognitive decline – even when we factor out dementia’s impact on the brain. Think of those things you do automatically, without having to really think about what you are doing – and do them differently. Instead of daydreaming through your routine, work your brain to keep it agile and improve its ability to adapt to the constantly changing world. The brain we have depends to a large part on what we ask it to do.

Pay attention to your thoughts: You may well have heard the saying ‘Fake it until you make it.’ In other words, think and behave in ways that make you the person you want to become. Even if it’s uncomfortable at first, it will gradually feel more natural. Repeating positive thought patterns, processes or behaviors can foster new connections in the brain and help solidify them as part of your natural response mechanisms. These connections are known as ‘neural pathways’. In much the same way that a path through a field might be formed by regularly walking it, the brain’s pathways are established and made stronger when you use them repeatedly over time. An excellent way of establishing positive neural pathways is through the use of self hypnosis or hypnotherapy, and also through meditation.

We remain in the process of understanding exactly how the brain and nervous system function, and which aspects we can shape and control. It really is an exciting field of research that is providing fresh ways to impact on everything from mental wellbeing to IQ. As our understanding progresses, it’s sure to offer us many new ways to improve our brain’s health – and our quality of life.

Peter Field is one of the foremost hypnotherapists in Birmingham and London. His Birmingham hypnotherapy practice provides West Midlands hypnotherapy services.

How To Change Your Brain For The Better