Improving your brain and life is going to happen in the everyday choices you make and actions you take. Little changes can add up to big results. You don’t have to overhaul your life dramatically all at once. Pick one helpful habit, like starting a 15-minute daily meditation practice, walking for 30 minutes every day, cutting out sugar, or taking a supplement, and implement it this week. Stick with it for a couple of weeks, then add and try out another one. Before you know it, you’ve made good progress.
Not every practice will feel right to you nor will what helped me automatically help you. That’s OK. What’s right is what works FOR YOU. Some things I really found helpful (and still do are):
I learn best by reading and have found books to be my constant companions and teachers over the years. Books have changed my life and made me a better person. Read Five Books That Changed My Life to find those most meaningful to me.
Meditation is the closest thing to a happy pill I have found. It has been scientifically proven to benefit the brain in measurable ways. I practice daily and have for years to stay balanced and emotionally healthy no matter what life throws at me. I found the teachings of Pema Chodron most helpful in learning to meditate. She has many books and audio available. Meditation Technique
The teachings of Rick Hanson were invaluable to me in understanding the science behind the operation of my physical brain and how my behaviors and thoughts affected it. His teachings helped me to incorporate mindfulness into my life and brain. I’ve written many blogs on his wisdom. Enter his name in the “search this website” box in the upper right corner of any page on this site to get a list. He offers an online program, The Foundations Of Well Being, which explains the how of happiness step-by-step.
I highly recommend Rick Hanson’s CDs if you are just learning how to meditate or if you have a seasoned practice. I’ve been meditating for years, but I will still get my CD sets out from time to time to give me a boost of fresh energy and refresh my knowledge and habits. He explains the mechanics of how you are changing your brain through neuroplasticity in easy-to-understand terms. I would advise you start with this one, Meditations to Change Your Brain.
This cd, Meditations for Happiness, is a nice complement to the one above or on its own. Dr. Hanson’s meditations are designed to specifically harness neuroplasticity to change your brain for the better. Sometimes, I find it helpful to meditate with a specific purpose. And sometimes, I like to “wing it.” Both are good and get the job done. 🙂
Of course, I recommend my wisdom (and humor) as well. Beat Depression And Anxiety By Changing Your Brain details the simple practices I used to heal from a brain injury and depression and turn my life around. I still use many of these tools every day or when the going gets tough.
Neurofeedback and Brainwave Optimization were crucial to my healing from my brain injury and are both proven techniques (just not well-known) to help many brain challenges from chronic anxiety, autism, ADD and ADHD, depression, brain injuries, stroke recovery, addictions, seizure disorders, learning disabilities, and more.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (hbot) provided dramatic healing for my brain. I still do it to maintain brain health and still see results every time. Personally, I think it is a highly underutilized practice which can help any medical condition, especially anything brain related. My hbot practitioner has witnessed autistic or brain-damaged children begin to speak, and seen people with paralyzed limbs regain use as a result of hbot therapy.
A cranial electronic stimulator (CES) generates low-intensity alternating current that is transmitted across the skull. Its use increases alpha wave activity in the brain which helps modulate neurotransmitters, endorphins, and cortisol. The science was approved by the FDA in 1979 and is backed by research to relieve depressive symptoms.
Yoga helped me heal physically, mentally, and emotionally, not just from my brain injury, but from life, in general. It has been scientifically proven to have many brain and health benefits. I personally love hot yoga, yoga in 100 degrees and 40% humidity. So much so, that I opened a hot yoga studio! You don’t have to like it hot. Just do yoga! It will change your life.