The brain is hardwired with connections, much like a car is hard-wired with electrical wiring. In the brain, connections are made by neurons that link the brain (cerebral cortex) to the sensory inputs and motor outputs of the body. The brain helps you generate a response based on the information it is taking in.
A quick, simple example: someone asks you a question and you verbally respond. If your brain was not sending those signals for your mouth to open and other parts of the brain to formulate words and sentences, you would not be able to respond verbally.
Now layer into that example that you have been under stress due to an approaching work deadline and did not sleep well last night because your child has been sick. Your brain is still helping you generate a response, but notice how you are responding. Perhaps you're a little less clear minded or a bit short or snippy with your answer.
This is what we call a stress response. The thing about stress, which can be caused by multiple factors, is that it's totally normal. So normal that oftentimes the brain has already developed a preferred stress response based on environment, life experiences, and social/emotional influences of your formative years. As a result, your brain now knows how to respond to any same or similar stress as an adult.
However, as an adult, you may find that the formally developed neuropathy (the preferred stress response) is not always the most healthy. As a result, you can choose to develop a new pathway or rewire the brain to have a more positive response. The ability of the nervous system to change its activity in response to intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli by reorganizing its structure, functions, or connections is called Neural Plasticity. In simple terms, your roadways/pathways are under construction, and it is up to you to build a new, more preferred route for your cars/neurons to travel.
This is not always an easy task. Like with building roads, the neural pathways take a lot of time to build and consistent effort and practice. The good news though is that it can be done!
Here are 3 quick tips
Meditation allows you to quiet the brain and be in the body in the here and now. It supports the rest and digestive state of the body, adverse to the often-lived state of fight or flight. As a result, the brain’s signals — and even hormones produced in the body — are in a higher “calm” state even under stress.
Visualization is a great tool in shifting realities into the more preferred positive state. In visualizing, you often imagine and dream of what things would look like in an ideal (but realistic) state. Over time, the brain develops a habit of thinking of the positive outcomes of the future which supports positive patterns in the present.
Gratitude is a positive thought that connects to an equally positive feeling. Verbally expressing or writing down the small and/or big things that you are grateful for helps the brain and body develop new perspectives that support rebuilding your neuropathways every single day.
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