You’ve probably seen articles recently about the science of the brain. This is relatively new and recent research thanks to advances in mapping brain activity in response to stimuli. There is much more research being undertaken in this area and it is unfolding all the time.
If you’re a high performer [arent we all these days] then you may be interested in what you can do stay mentally resilient during times of challenge and adversity. If you want to build good habits, change behaviour or stay sharp in our shoccante world then it helps to know a few things about your brain.
There is a concept known as ‘neuro-plasticity’ in cognitive science and behavioural science which postulates that neurons which exist in the brain when ‘wired’ together ‘fire’ together. The notion offers hope if you’re trying to overcome anxiety, combat stress, manage a health condition or conquer an addiction.
The theory goes once you adopt new behaviours these will become ingrained in the brain over time. Easier said than done you might think, and I would agree. The primitive part of the brain is still with us and governs responses towards danger. As you can imagine, this can be a powerful region of the brain and can sometime override all reasoning and arguably can dictate fight, flight or freeze responses.
The relatively newer part of the brain, responsible for reasoning also plays an important role – and at risk of repetition – for obvious reasons. If you need to perform – then be aware of your emotions triggered by your brain response and try to rise above them and use your reasoning faculty.
In my opinion, you can better use your reasoning faculty if you are mindful of your nutrition, sleep and can manage some Mindfulness practice where you accept but view with some non-judgement and detachment your thoughts. The more your practice Mindfulness then the more wired you will be at becoming a dispassionate observer of your thoughts and can more readily chose the appropriate behavioural response by better accessing the reasoning part of the brain. Any strong emotion such as fear or anger can be accepted but laid to one side for what it is.
There is also exciting research happening in our “second brains” and that is our stomach. Research into the gut membrane suggests that by increasing the density of friendly gut flora then this has an influence on mood and wellbeing. You might think, well that’s obvious – but there are individuals out there who swear by it and claim that by looking after the second brain they have beaten anxiety and other mental health conditions as well as look and feel years younger.
This area of neuroscience of brain and gut is cutting edge and more research will follow. If you’d like to find out more then I recommend anything by Dr. Lisa Mosconi, Jeanette Hyde or Hayley Pedrick on Harley Street plus Rewire Your Anxious Brain: How to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety, Panic, and Worry.
[Please note the above is not meant to constitute medical advice. Please seek the advice of a medical professional if in doubt].