Some of you might be looking at this title and thinking what is neuroplasticity? How does it apply to my mental health? Let me get down to the basics of the word: neuro equals nervous system and plasticity is derived from the Greek word plastos, meaning moldable. It’s just a fancy way of saying that our brains are very resilient and have an amazing ability to adapt and change.
In the beginning, scientists believed that the brain stopped developing after childhood, but with new research, they discovered the brain is ever-growing and changing. Every new skill, thought, and experience is harnessing the power of neuroplasticity.
When you experience stress or a traumatic event it can disrupt neuroplasticity. This happens in many different mental health diagnoses such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Individuals who struggle with these diagnoses get stuck with their negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and it can be very frustrating and scary. Many individuals don’t know how to stop these thoughts, but there is hope!
Just because a person feels anxious or out of control doesn’t mean they have to stay that way! Thanks to neuroplasticity you can stop the cycle of feeling stuck, whatever your mental health struggles may be!
So at this point, you might be thinking How can I rewire my brain with neuroplasticity? Here are a few ways to start!
Therapists are there to help and challenge you by working with you on changing negative thoughts and habits. Cognitive Behavioral and many other types of therapies can help by creating biological changes in brain structure and connectivity!
Therapists can also assist in forming goals to change your habits that you feel stuck in, sometimes it just helps to have another perspective!
Practice Things You Already Know, but in a Different Way.
Cook a new recipe, learn a new language, journal, learn about a new culture. These are fun things that stimulate neuroplasticity.
Physical activity in any shape or form has many benefits for our health, but it also really enhances synaptic activity! Studies have shown just walking an hour a day several days out of the week increases brain matter in the hippocampus which is involved in memory and learning.
Engaging in positive social interactions!
Being with your friends and family is a great way to reduce stress and increase BDNF!
Doing or engaging in things that you enjoy!
Reading, art, travel, writing etc. Check out our other blog New Year, New Hobbies to learn about a few new hobbies that you can try!
Surround Yourself with Stimulating Environments
Being enriched in stimulating environments, wherever your happy place is! This a great way to rewire your brain to be happy in a moment.
Setting goals for yourself
Your therapist can help you with this if you’re unsure or feel a little stuck.
Practice Calming Techniques
Engaging in mental health interventions or coping skills such as mindfulness meditation or breathing exercises can aid in rewiring your brain.
I hope this information on Neuroplasticity helps and inspires you as it did me when I first discovered it myself! I think it is an amazing concept that our minds have the power to overcome!