What is neuroplasticity?
Neuroplasticity refers to the physiological changes in our brain, resulting from our interaction with the environment. It is also the change in neural pathways and synapses. It can be due to factors such as environment, behavior, and neural processes.
Neuroplasticity can be considered as rewiring of the brain to restore brain functioning or to maximize it. It is also known as brain plasticity.
Several times people have been found recovering from severe brain injuries and strokes. The reason behind the same is none other than neuroplasticity. It is not a very old concept, and researchers study it every day to get more of it.
The science behind neuroplasticity
It is a daily process. Whenever we learn something new, we are creating new connections between the neurons inside our brains. We are rewiring our brains. So the brains will be able to adapt to new circumstances/situations. It may include the deletion of neural connections we no longer require. Or it can be strengthened by necessary ones. We can take measures to enhance this process.
There are three levels of the brain where such changes occur. These are:
Chemical: It occurs during the early stages of learning.
Structural: Structural plasticity occurs when neurons change their connections in the brain. It involves the brain’s ability to change its physical structure due to learning.
Functional: Neuroplasticity occurs at the functional level when the entire brain networks change. It also involves the brain’s ability to move functions that can be from a damaged area to some undamaged one.
Ways to use neuroplasticity
for better mental health
Following are some of the ways to rewire brains with neuroplasticity:
Meditation: Meditation improves attention span and makes an individual more empathetic. It reduces stress levels and helps him/her stay calm even during pressures. One can practice different forms of meditation to bring changes in different parts of the brain.
Affirmations: Affirmations or self-talk helps us look at ourselves more optimistically. They are actually positive and optimistic statements we say to ourselves. Positive affirmations help us counteract and quiet the negative thoughts. They support us in challenging and defeating sabotaging thoughts. They further help in stopping bad habits.
Habit formation: When you work toward forming a habit, your old neural pathways break. New, healthier, and happier neural pathways are created, leading to better mental health. So change old habits and create new ones. Over time, you can create a habit of feeling lasting happiness.
Mindset: Having a growth mindset against a fixed one lets you seize opportunities for a wider learning experience. It helps develop the brain and bring healthy changes inside. A person with a growth mindset always looks for positivity even in challenging situations and is able to overcome them.
Healthy food and exercise: Engagement in aerobic activities leads to structural changes for better cognition. Physical exercises and healthy food can increase nerve branching and trigger the regeneration of new cells. They also increase blood flow to the brain, along with more oxygen and more nutrients. Eating healthy, of course, provides the required nutrients to the brain.
Forming happy memory and healthy experiences: Memories and experiences have a significant impact on the brain. We may have many bad, ugly or horrible memories or experiences from past which get hard wired in brain and keep us stuck in past and create endless missery.
So try and create new beneficial experiences and make happy memories for having good mental health. person can try altering memories to neutralize the emotional change. Slowly these new and better experiences break the old neural connections and create healthy neural pathways in brain resulting more happiness and peace.
Expand your comfort zone:
Many of us live in our own limited world avoiding discomforting situations.
We often try to avoid our fears and try not to experience them in any cause.
But if we never come out of our comfort zone and never face our fears then our brain wiring about them never changes.
When we move out of comfort zone and face our fears to conquare them, new neural pathways are created in brain. When we go through same situation or fear next time those neurons get fired which were created by courage to reduce or remove feeling of discomfort or fear.
There are several other ways to encourage mental health with neuroplasticity:
Doing artwork: This enhances the connectivity of the brain at rest. So you experience a boost in attention, empathy as well as focus.
Learning a musical instrument: This is not an unusual task. And it helps with increasing connectivity between brain regions. It also helps to form new neural networks.
By reading fiction: Reading novels is a common interest. Fiction can enormously help in increasing connectivity in the brain. It also provides relaxation to the brain.
Learn new language: When you try to learn some new language words with their meanings, it activates memory processing. So one can choose to learn a few new words every single day.
Play video games: Brain challenging video games are good exercise for brain and keeps brain active and neurons firing.
You can use neuroplasticity for healing depression, anxiety, emotional trauma or physical trauma and other mental issues.
Taking advantage of brain neuroplasticity for mental health is very effective. It is very powerful.
Rewiring your brain by using power of neuroplasticity can change your life.