STRESS Buster For The Emotional Brain - Brain Fitness

The 'emotional brain' is where we feel things such as fear, sadness, disgust (hate), anger, and joy. It is part of the limbic system that also includes memory and few other bits and bobs (a technical term for lots of stuff). This is the part of the brain that we should work on more often if we want to stay well in our head.

So often we focus on our physical body - how fit we are, how much we weigh, how good we look, what fuel we put into our bodies - and we forget that we also have a brain to look after. It is true that if we look after our body there are many benefits for the brain such as the release of feel-good chemicals, growth of neurons, and higher self-esteem. However, our brain controls our body so this should in fact be the first place that we start.

Personally, I didn't do any of this and I became unwell in my head. I got brain sickness. To become well again, I worked on my brain more than on my body. (Some might say I am still a bit crazy!)

Brain fitness, controlling our thoughts, can often be difficult hence we either put it off or we try a little bit of it and it soon becomes too hard so we fall back to our previous negative-thought patterns.

Controlling your thoughts is one of the best things that you can do for your brain. The problem is that we don't start thinking about our thoughts until we become unwell. Your brain has a negative bias, it will try to focus only on the things that it thinks will help you - danger - to keep you safe from harm. If we let it take control, our brain will continue to focus solely on the negative aspects of life, your brain becomes a doom & gloom merchant.

The bad news is that fifty percent of this pattern is hereditary, you can't change it. The good news is that the other fifty percent can be changed, and that is more than enough to keep you well (sane). You can stop thoughts of worry, fear, fretting, anxiousness, and you can learn how to be resilient. Why, because they are just thoughts. You just have to do the hard work to control them.

I am still learning all about this brain stuff myself, and I often forget to do what I teach until I start to feel myself worry and fret more than usual. When I recognise my signs (worrying about everything and expressing these worries like a drama king) I work on changing my thoughts by ignoring the negative ones, looking for positives in what I am ding and focussing completely on what I can control.

That's the first thing that I want you to do until my next post, focus on what you can do not what you can't do or what hasn't yet happened. Our brains are wired to exaggerate negative thoughts, you can control this by being in the moment, in the here-and-now, concentrating on what you can do, and focussing on what you have control over.

If you catch yourself having negative thoughts, say to yourself "No" or "Stop". Keep repeating that mantra to yourself inside your head, not out aloud for obvious reasons.

Mindfulness is a powerful tool to control your emotional brain, and the good news is that you can't overuse it.