Greetings! Megan here.
We know the brain has plasticity, so we know we can shape and mold it. However, many of us don’t know what to do to see a difference.
Oftentimes we see things as black/white, good/bad, like/dislike, right/wrong which are limiting perspectives and keep us stuck in just two options. To increase our flexibility and make training the brain easier, we have to work on the brain’s flexibility and give our brain more options and perspectives from which to see our life and the world.
If you want to decrease your anxiety, anger, irritability, and depression, here are some specific exercises that help you create flexibility in the brain.
Create a Mind-Body Connection
First, focus on your 5 senses.
Take a minute or two, wherever you are, to focus on each sense and be as descriptive as possible. Naming and noticing while not judging (they aren’t good or bad; right or
wrong; they just are).
Sight: What are you seeing? Colors, textures, name the objects, just notice.
Smell: What are the smells around you? Do you smell the grass, flowers, stale
office furniture, someone’s lunch, your deodorant, or shampoo? Again, use your
adjectives: pungent, sour, sweet, stale, fresh, etc.
Taste: What are you tasting? Toothpaste? Coffee? Breath mint? Be descriptive:
Minty, tangy, sweet, bitter, etc.
Touch: What does it feel like in the chair you’re sitting in or on the floor/ground
you’re standing on? Is there a breeze? Warm sun on your face? What do the
clothes feel like on your skin? Tight, loose, itchy, soft, cozy, etc.
Hearing: What are you hearing inside this space (room, car, etc)? What are you
hearing outside of this space (next room, outside, down the street)?
Next, Count your breathing.
Count to 4 or 5 or 6 on each inhale and exhale for the same number. It
doesn’t matter what number you choose, one’s not better than another, just do what feels
best for you. Counting in and out for the same number is very balancing. As you do this
breathing work, notice the break in breath at the top of the breath and at the bottom where it feels like the breath is suspended for just a moment.
Know what you have control over and what you don’t have control over.
The easy answer is: You only have control over yourself. Your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Even if sometimes it feels like you don’t, you can learn how to do this. What you don’t have control over is anyone else – what they do, what they say, how they think, how they feel.
Awaken The Auto-Pilot and be Kind to Yourself (and Others!)
Notice your critical voice. We speak to ourselves, in our mind, with many different voices. Sometimes we’re very parental with ourselves and sometimes we are free and playful. Other times we can be very critical. If you have any sort of perfectionistic tendencies or are a bit Type-A, this may really resonate. When we begin to just notice (no need to try to change it) when we are speaking to ourselves critically we inherently change it. Just the sheer act of paying attention and noticing (without judgment) has the ability to change the issue at hand. And remember, don’t be critical of yourself being critical – just notice it for what it is and move on!
For ultra brain flexibility do a routine task differently.
-If you have “your spot” at the kitchen or dining room table, move to another spot at
-If you have a morning routine in the bathroom, change it up. Brush your teeth first,
then take a shower, then floss your teeth.
-Soap up in the shower differently. If you usually start and your head, start at your feet.
Remember, there is no right or wrong, good or bad and we aren’t going for efficiency right now. We’re going for a change of perspective as well as flexibility of thinking and doing, which will help you change other, bigger, things if you want to! You’re building new neural pathways in your brain! Congrats!
I hope these insights are helpful! Let me know if you have any questions!