Who said rewiring your brain was only possible with medication? Drug companies have been content to let the public believe that a “chemical imbalance” is what’s causing their stress, depression, and anxiety.
Feeling off? Not yourself? Maybe it’s time to investigate.
But others have thought that the term “chemical imbalance” has no foundation in science—suggesting it’s merely a conveniently named term pharmaceutical companies created to make their drugs sound more effective.
Either way, many people need the help of pharmaceutical drugs—no doubt. Still, there are dozens of ways you can change the way your brain works without relying on medication.
Everything from what you eat to your internal monologue dictates how your brain works. Learn how to control it with a few of our diet and lifestyle tips.
Food for Thought
You’ve almost certainly heard the phrase “you are what you eat.” You may have disregarded it as a way for parents to tell us to eat healthy food, but it’s true!
What you eat affects how you think. Have you ever noticed that your lunch directly impacts your afternoon work ethic?
A healthy, light salad will have you cruising when your lunch break ends. A messy fast-food lunch will leave you feeling lethargic and sleepy.
Researchers have looked into how food can affect the brain, and they’ve found some surprising results. Ahead are some of the foods you might not expect have a proven relation to rewiring your brain.
Raw cacao has a long list of health benefits when you eat it in moderation. Dark chocolate that is at least 70% cacao can reduce inflammation and speed-up your metabolism.
Your mind benefits when you eat dark chocolate as well. Researchers have found that eating dark chocolate can cause a noticeable decrease in your stress hormones.
Of course, you shouldn’t take this as a pass to eat as much dark chocolate as you want.
If you’re dealing with a prolonged period of stress, though, don’t feel guilty about a dark chocolate break every once in a while.
Vitamin E provides a litany of health benefits, including some that affect brain chemistry.
One study observed the cognitive decline in aging subjects. They tested how vitamin E consumption affects the brain at later stages and found that it had a noticeable relationship to cognitive decline.
The random participants who received more vitamin E through their diet also experienced a reduced rate of cognitive decline as they aged.
Almonds happen to be extremely rich in vitamin E. In fact; they’re one of the best vitamin E foods you can eat.
Other raw nuts and seeds are packed with vitamin E as well. If you prefer, raw spinach is another adequate source.
Turkey is one of the healthiest foods you can eat for both your body and mind. It has high tryptophan content, which helps your body produce serotonin.
More serotonin has been shown to help fight depression. It assists in balancing your mood, allowing you to experience fewer extreme highs and lows.
Improved sleep quality has all kinds of mental benefits, and the tryptophan in turkey promotes melatonin release in your brain. Better sleep will lead to more focus, a better mood, and a stronger work ethic when you’re awake.
A quick Google search pinpoints various foods we should and shouldn’t eat to maximise brain health, but a good, general way to plan your meals for healthy thinking involves balance.
A wholesome, balanced meal is rich in fruit and veggies, but keeps you full at the same time. Try incorporating a mix of protein, carbs and fruit to your breakfast meals to get your brain pumping in the morning. Keep your lunch light to avoid feeling sluggish in the afternoon.
For example, at breakfast time, a slice of wholemeal toast with an egg and tomatoes is much better for your brain than a quick coffee fix or a bowl of sugary cereal. This simply isn’t enough to get your brain in gear.
The Power of Thought
Your food choices are one way to assist in naturally rewiring your brain – but there’s another side to the story if you’re after the complete picture. There are several proven methods of changing the way you think with nothing more than your own mind.
These methods might be even more powerful than the food you put in your body. Of course, changing your diet along with these thought practices will give you the best chance at success.
Positive affirmations are something that you’ll almost always stumble across when researching how to rewire your brain naturally.
There’s a reason for this: they work. Researchers have linked positive affirmations to everything from reducing stress to increasing your productivity.
Everyone who’s down wants to feel better about themselves, and self-affirmations will help with that. Even more, though, they can increase the quality of your performance, improve your well-being, and influence your social behaviour.
Meditation is no longer for the hippies and those who are experimenting with Eastern healing techniques.
The benefits of meditation are well documented, and mindfulness meditation is now more accessible than ever. Guided meditation apps are getting more and more popular as people begin to discover how meditation affects their brains.
Researchers have linked meditation to improved sleep patterns, reduced stress, increased productivity, and a long list of other physical and mental benefits.
Getting started meditating isn’t as hard as you might think. After a few sessions, you’ll start to notice your mood improving and your sleep quality boosting.
Gratitude is another mental exercise that a lot of people swear by. Unsurprisingly, there is some scientific research that backs-up the physical and mental benefits of gratitude.
Researchers have observed that people who express gratitude have higher self-esteem, better relationships, lower aggression, and enhanced empathy.
It’s easy to think about all of the things that are working against us. It can be much more difficult to list some of the things we’re grateful for.
Making a gratitude list is one of the ways we can naturally rewire our brains to think more positively. Give it a try and see if it changes the way you see the world.
DISCLAIMER: This post is for entertainment and insight only, and should not be viewed as a substitute for professional treatment.
Professional support is not always cheap. You could be saving on your psychology services through private health cover—remember, it’s just as important to stay on top of your mental health as it is your physical health.