5 Ways To Stretch Your Brain

They say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Still, it looks like you can teach a person of any age, new perspectives. According to studies in the field of neuroscience, we can change the way that our brains work at any age. While the research on neuroplasticity dates back to the 1800s, advances in brain scanning technology make now an exciting time to pay closer attention. [1]

What exactly is neuroplasticity, you ask? It’s the malleability of neural circuits. In layman’s terms, it’s the science that tells us that we can basically reprogram the way that our brain is wired because it is flexible and can be changed. That, combined with neurogenesis (the birth of new neurons), works to reshape our thoughts, memories, and behaviors. [2]

This research essentially confirms that regardless of our age, it is possible (and not that difficult) to learn some new tricks – to grow and learn new and different ways of thinking and being. One of the best ways to spark that type of transformation is to put yourself into what they call, “enriched environments.” These are environments that stimulate your brain, push you out of your comfort zone and compel you to rethink the way that you think. So now that you know just how stretchable your brain can be, what about trying some exercise to help stretch it? Below is a list of things that I do to push myself outside of my comfort zone and stretch my brain a bit. See if any catch your eye!

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1. DANCE IN PUBLIC Most department stores have a fun musical track, playing at all times. Take a second to catch the rhythm and give it a whirl. At first, it will feel like everyone is staring, and they very well may be. But in a few seconds, if you’re really getting into, you’ll stop caring… and they may even join you.

2. MEDITATE Sit in silence with the purpose of just watching your thoughts float by. Be mindful of each thought without judgment and as the seconds’ pass, try to release each thought from your mind. Look to quiet your brain, so as to notice and discard any thought that enters.

3. USE YOUR OTHER HAND – Try doing menial tasks with your non-dominant hand. Use it to carry a bag; to brush your teeth and hair or even to wipe off furniture. No matter how simple the activity, it will help to get you more focused and more flexible.

4. CURIOUSLY DISAGREE – Call a friend that you know feels differently about a topic you hold dear. Instead of arguing to prove your point, listen with earnest intentions, for what different perspectives they can share.



5. BUILD FURNITURE The parts and pieces can be intimidating but getting through the instructions with understanding and confidence is well worth the task. Not only does it help build your focus, but it’s likely to fine-tune some of those motor skills as well.

I always heard that it was a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. Who knew how easy, changing our minds could be?

*References:

[1] Hampton, D. (2015, October 28). Neuroplasticity: The 10 Fundamentals Of Rewiring Your Brain. Retrieved July 18, 2018, from http://reset.me/story/neuroplasticity-the-10-fundamentals-of-rewiring-your-brain/

[2] Bergland, C. (2017, February 06). How Do Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis Rewire Your Brain? Retrieved July 18, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201702/how-do-neuroplasticity-and-neurogenesis-rewire-your-brain

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Dinorah Nieves, PhD

Dr. Dinorah Nieves (aka Dr. D) is a personal/professional development coach and behavioral scientist, who helps others to become healthier,…

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