Your adaptable and agile team is able to hurdle whatever arises along the way. Promoting proper maintenance for the brain, however, will help you extend your endurance for the marathon.
Neuroplasticity is crucial because it underscores the brain’s incredible ability to adjust. It is a foundation of our ability to thrive in an ever-evolving world.
What is Neuroplasticity?
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s remarkable ability to restructure itself by forming and reorganizing synaptic connections between neurons. This process involves changes in synaptic strength (synaptic plasticity), the physical reorganization of the brain’s structure through the creation of new neurons and connections (structural plasticity), and the brain’s ability to redistribute functions in response to injury (functional reorganization).
In essence, neuroplasticity allows the brain to adapt, learn, and recover by altering its neural pathways, forming new connections, and sometimes even relocating functions to different areas. This adaptability is fundamental to learning, memory, and recovery from injuries, indicating that the brain is not a static organ but a highly adaptable and dynamic one.
Neuroplasticity is likened to your brain being a super-flexible muscle. When you practice something your brain changes and gets better at that thing.
Think of it like this: when you learn something new, your brain makes connections between brain cells. It’s like building roads between cities so they can be traveled between. The more you practice or learn, the stronger these connections get.
General health practices (good sleep, eating healthy, making time for exercise, etc.) are great for the brain’s neuroplasticity, but what are some others?
Play Chess and Learn to Juggle
Even if you’re unable to finish a game of chess, but only able to start one (on one of the many available and free resources), engaging with this type of problem solving has proven to be excellent for our brains. Not convinced? There is compelling research detailing the difference in brain matter of those who do not play chess and those who are highly skilled at it. It seems to be a worthy investment of free time.
There is also research that juggling, as a dual-task activity, can strengthen the brain’s abilities to be neuroplastic. It might be time to store that set of juggling balls in your desk drawer for between tasks.
Journaling and Reflective Writing
Maintain a journal where you regularly reflect on your experiences, decisions, and leadership challenges. Writing about your thoughts and feelings can promote self-awareness and emotional processing, both of which are associated with increased neuroplasticity. This practice can also help you gain insights into your leadership style and identify areas for improvement.
Implementing a New Status Quo
We have heard of the wonders of meditation and mindfulness, but it can be quite difficult to make time for them. Here is a new angle to consider. By taking time out of your busy life to calm your mind, you are hard wiring in neural pathways to return back to that state. This means, when life gets tough, you will have an easier time ziplining back to some degree of that state you experience when you slow down, listen to yourself, and focus on something simple like your breath.
Adopt a Growth Mindset
Make it a habit to reframe obstacles as learning experiences. This shift in perspective can make it easier to adapt to change, overcome challenges, and habitually form strong new synaptic connections.
Creative Hobbies, Lean into Them
It can be easy to discount a creative hobby with so many other things to do. When we’re aware that these hobbies are helping keep our brain strong, we may have more motivation to pursue creative hobbies such as painting, music, writing, or crafting. These activities spur on creativity and divergent thinking, promoting the formation of new neural pathways associated with innovation and problem-solving.
Taking Stress Reduction Seriously
It can be hard to believe there’s a good reason to stop and intentionally reduce our stress when there are many important things that need to be done. It only seems to slow us down. However, when we understand that we’re rewiring towards a more positive status quo, even in the face of stressful activities, we may find reason to take our stress reduction journey more seriously.
Purpose Driven Brain Formation
It helps to have a strong reason behind your pursuit. If you have an interest to make a change, cement new habits, and reinforce growth, it is worthwhile to attach a reason to it. Do it for your wife, children, and their future, or for your future earnings potential, or for your community, or for all three. When you make it concrete in your being why you’re engaging with this hard work, you will find yourself able to sustain it over the long run. The stronger and clearer the purpose, the greater dividends it will pay.
Having good habits at the ready to implement is a good way to stay ahead of the curve. Instead of trying to steer away from a negative habit, have a task ready to begin practicing and you’ll rewire your brain towards the new habit, overwriting the bad one.
Neuroplasticity in and of itself is not inherently good, it is dependent on what habits we mold our brain around. If you have been getting out of bed on the first alarm every morning for the past 20 days, keep it up, you’ll surely rewire your brain even more after 200 days. If you pick your nails while nervous, try to end the habit now. The more you continue the more you’ll wire in and strengthen that negative response to stress.
Uncovering your brain’s potential is a roadmap for upgrade and resilience in every facet of your life.
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