Take a minute to think about how much time you spend worrying. It’s important. Are you stressed out and worried all the time? Most of the time? Some of the time? Rarely?
Chronic worry can paralyze us and bring on anxiety disorders. New studies have shown that “Chronic stress is associated with impaired functioning of the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex…,” Dr. Linda Mah, lead author of this new report tells us. You’ve heard me talk about the prefrontal cortex, often, because it’s the area of the brain that controls memory and concentration. So, impaired function of this portion of your brain can lead to dementia diseases in addition to the anxiety, depression, OCD, and others you have heard about. YIKES!
Yet, I know some chronic worriers have been that way their whole lives, so what can be done to change this pattern now? PLENTY!
Meditation is the top recommendation for learning how to manage worry and stress.
Exercise is also on the top of that list – and exercising outdoors and/or with others is a bonus for your brain.
But, what about those worry worts who feel that they were “born that way”? Change the way you are thinking about whatever is the top worry you have at the moment. You can use the neuroplasticity of your brain to help you make brand new pathways in your brain that do not lead to worry. Here’s an example:
Let’s say you’re worried about not having enough money to be able to pay the bills. After the great recession of 2008, many of us were worried about this. Let’s say that this particular worry surfaces every time your bank balance gets below a certain dollar amount. At this point, you have been completing this cycle for years, so that pathway in your brain is so strong that even when you know you’ll be getting a paycheck next week, you still worry because your brain steers you into that same pathway without you even thinking about it. It has become an automatic response. Neurons that are used frequently develop stronger connections, those that are rarely or never used eventually die. This is called synaptic pruning.
Here’s one simple way you can change that familiar response so that, eventually, your brain will prune it. First, notice when you feel that worry again. Now, pick up your favorite fragrance and take a good strong sniff. It will automatically make you feel better because your enjoyment of THAT fragrance is also cemented into your brain. Take another sniff and remind yourself that next Friday is payday, and all is well. When you feel the worry coming back, pick up your favorite scent and repeat! It’s a simple way to trick your brain into making this new pathway. It will take some time and you’ll need to repeat for several days, but after a while there will be less time feeling that particular worry, and eventually you won’t feel it at all anymore. This is using your brain’s neuroplasticity for the good. Once you get that worry taken care of, move on to another until you totally become an UN-worrier! It takes work, but you can do it because you are worth the effort! Remember, slow and steady progress wins the race!
This is just one of the many solutions to change the patterns of worry in your life and give yourself the gift of better brain health.
Meanwhile, today’s video is another of my favorite breathing practices. This one balances the right and left hemispheres of your brain to improve concentration and focus!
Best of Health,
Watch for my Black Friday specials later this week! My brain plasticity course, meditation training, and all of my services are 40% off that day only! Now is the time to learn to meditate, get serious about your weight loss goals, or take a course to learn how to use your brain’s own neuroplasticity to succeed at goals you haven’t been able to achieve! Don’t miss out!