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.Share this article!
How do you pay for these alternative therapies?
It depends on where you live. Outside of the US, more alternative therapies are part of the mainstream medical system. For example, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is part of the standard care in many countries, but not in the U.S. Insurance is starting to cover some. I would check with your provider. Unfortunately, most alternative therapies are not covered by US insurance and have to be paid out-of-pocket.
Thanks for the information. Have you looked into the different kinds of direct current stimulation devices vs. the Fisher-Wallace device that you mention? It’s hard to evaluate the different systems out there. The same for the neurofeedback, too. Thanks again.
I have the Fischer Wallace device and have used it. My son uses it regularly. I do have other stimulation devices – and I think they all work differently. I have also done several different types of neurofeedback with benefit. You have to decide what is the best fit for you.
Hey Debby I’m a guy 23 years old from Turkey, I have done meditation for about 1.5 year and started to experience a blankish mind and some kind of thing not going well feeling and then I quit, what I recognized that, I wasn’t aware of anything in this 1.5 year. So what I mean is that Meditation was intended to give me awareness but it was making the opposite. And I wasn’t able to evaluate anything at all. And it basically cloaked my depression and anxiety symtomps because when I quit they all showed up, and I thought I was numbed emotionally because of traumas, it showed me that it was mostly by meditation, and I thought I wasn’t feeling anything because I had no anxiety and so I need to generate love. What I want to ask you is that, I see you are making a lot of good comment on Meditation as like a lot of people, and I also watched Mr.Hanson and his talks about meditating so I’m really so hesitant and obsessive about deciding to quit it, but when I try it out even a single focus on breath or any kind, I experience a fearful anxiety or disconnected feeling. I mean I would love to get stress relief benefit so I just keep drag myself to practice and when I see people on itnernet bragging meditation I just can’t stop it. And then I saw your “. What’s right is what works FOR YOU” comment and that truly resonated me. Do you think would I be able to be well without meditation, I mean would I be still mentally good and resilient if I do any other solutions? Like journaling, CBT, exercise, good sleeping hygiene, laughter. I just feel that I will miss something so big if I quit, however when I do it I go into a different kind of mind state and it is not really good… Would love to hear any ideas from you.
You can definitely be mentally healthy without meditation. All of the other things you mentioned are valid ways to ease stress and anxiety and improve your mental health. I did want to tell you that I think your idea of meditation is the problem here..not actually meditating. When you first start meditating, it is more than likely not going to be blissful, relaxing or pleasant. It can be emotional, unpleasant, and “zoning out” is part of it. You are learning to observe your feelings and mental states. Being uncomfortable …and learning to be OK with feeling uncomfortable is part of the process. Please read this blog: https://www.thebestbrainpossible.com/the-myth-and-magic-of-meditation/
You are exactly right. Find what works FOR YOU. You certainly do not have to meditate. There are so many other tools available to you. 🙂
What are your suggestions for those of us who don’t currently have to funds to do the things you write about?
The things that will benefit your brain the most are completely free: sleep and exercise. In addition to those, learning how to effectively manage and reduce stress ( whether it’s through mindfulness. meditation, gratitude), socializing, stimulating and challenging your brain, and diet – are all free and will greatly aid your brain mental and physical function. Here’s advice from experts and it’s all free: https://thebestbrainpossible.com/the-best-brain-advice-from-the-brain-experts/
Hi Don, I don’t own the graphic. I just shared it.