The following is an exploration of how we might rewire the brain for more happiness and less anxiety and depression. This point of view is taken from Neuro Linguistic Programming and may be helpful in expanding your awareness around how we program our minds.
For those of you who may not realise, depression affects approximately 1 in 8 men and 1 in 6 women. Similarly, anxiety has an even higher rate – 1 in 5 men and 1 in 3 women. The point is, it’s quite normal and it’s not something to hide away from. However, it’s also quite serious and if left unchecked, will affect all parts of your life.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is very simply, is being caught in a loop which is stuck in the future, i.e., consistently creating worst-case scenario fantasies of the future.
Today I’m here to help you understand that these are ways of thinking (your neural wiring) that can be changed.
In 2005, the National Science Foundation published an article summarizing research on human thoughts per day. It was found that the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those thousands of thoughts, 80% were negative, and 95% were exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before. This means we are acting on auto pilot most of the time according to our pre-set programs.
These programs come from our beliefs, past experiences and values. Neuroscience has found that we can consciously rewire our brain.
But what do we want to wire into our brains instead?
When you are truly present in the NOW, you are not thinking about what has happened to you, or what could happen. You are purely observing, with all your senses, the position that you are occupying right now.
So, one of the fastest ways to rewire your brain, and releasing states of depression or anxiety, is to start consciously practicing being completely present – even if it starts with just 5 minutes a day. Take time out from your memories or imagination. It takes about 21 days to create a new neural pathway and on average, 66 days to ensure it is a wide laned superhighway neural pathway, meaning, a well-established new habitual way of thinking. This has radically changed my life for the better and hence why I share this with others.
Now, before I go, I’d love to leave you with you a little shortcut for getting into the present moment, and creating instant joy, remembering that happiness is simply a state of mind that you can turn on at any time. You see, happiness is a neural peptide that your brain pumps out when you access a positive memory, idea or thought…You can train your brain to access this state simply by following these couple steps regularly…
Step 1. Remember that motion = emotion, so slow your breathing. Become aware of your breathing and slow it right down and take several deep breaths. This will tell your whole biological system that you are safe and take you far away from the stress response of fight or flight. Breath in for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, breath out for 5 seconds. Doing this alone, will drastically improve your emotional and physical health.
Okay, so after you’ve taken several deep breaths…
Step 2. Think of 3 things you are grateful for right now in this current moment. That might be that the sun is shining, or that you have a delicious lunch in front of you, or that you simply appreciate someone special being in your life. What you are doing is accessing feelings of appreciation, gratitude, compassion and love.
It becomes almost impossible to feel sad, depressed or anxious during this exercise, and that’s what we want to train our brain to do more of.
Remember too, that depression and anxiety are signs you need to address something in your life. You can’t just drink a cup of concrete or snap out of it. It first takes acknowledgement that something is out of whack, then time to change your thinking, emotions and behaviour. Please don’t ignore this or push this down. Just like you would research good health for your body, do some research for mastering your mind. There is a knock-on effect when you make it important to nurture your mind just as much as your physical body; your whole life starts improving drastically.