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  • Julia Hamer

10 tips for healing your brain

Updated: Jan 31, 2018

From expensive meditation apps, yoga retreats and massages - here's 10 ways to relax and create a happy, healthy brain this winter.




I'm going to invite you all to think like a brain scientist for just a few minutes. If you seek happiness, relaxation, mindfulness, or energy - where in our body do we allow things to change? Well the brain of course! The brain is the head operating system of our body, and to achieve a feeling of contempt, happy, relaxed or energized, we need to find a way to change the chemistry in our brain.


“The brain is the head operating system of our body, and to achieve a feeling of contempt or happiness, we need to find a way to change the chemistry in our brain”

Here's 10 ways to help change your brain chemistry and create an optimal environment for changing your perception.



1. Breath through your nose


Even if you're taking the stairs and are huffing and puffing, try your best to close your mouth! Breathing through our nose activates our parasympathetic pathway, stimulating a sense of calmness, ease, and relaxation. Try to focus on extending your exhales a bit longer than your inhales. If it's too challenging, try to match the length of you inhale to your exhale.


#nasalbreathing #breathpractice




2. Get outside


To all my PATH walkers in Toronto and underground winter hibernators, you are doing yourself a disservice by staying underground all day, in artificial light, in an artificial building using artificial intelligence! Trust me, I hate the cold as much as the next bitter Canadian, but one thing I do know, is that nature is healing. Even just a few minutes in natural light can help reset your retinal pathways, adjust your pain receptors that have been exposed to copious amounts of blue light and leave you feeling refreshed and energized for the remainder of the day! So yes, go stop and smell the roses, or smell the snow, touch a tree branch and just stare at a cloud for a few minutes! Purchase a good pair of winter boots, a proper winter coat, some winter gloves and a hat. You won't regret it!


A routine that works well for me, is before I can eat my lunch, I walk outside for 5 to 10 minutes then come back in to eat. Try it out!





3. Reduce your blue light


I alluded to this above, but high exposure to blue light is no bueno for our brains. You may be asking - what is blue light? Well, I have an entire blog post dedicated to this, see here - but, in short, blue light allows images to be very bright! There's a high amount of blue light in smart phones, tablets and LED televisions/screens. From an evolutionary standpoint, we are not accusomed to seeing this much blue light - think of cave men... they woke up to the sunrise, watched the sunset, and maybe had a fire at night. All warm colours and red light!


Red light by nature is healing. Think of laser treatment by your physiotherapist, they use red light; or being in an infrared sauna - also therapeutic and healing! Blue light is on the complete opposite end of that light spectrum and is closer to ultraviolet light! Even just saying UV light people freak out, yet this is what we stare at all day long...


Blue light throws off the circadian rhythm (the internal clock of our body) within all our cells, causing our bodies and brain to be stressed for greater hours of the day and reducing the quality of our sleep at night.


Blue light throws off the circadian rhythm (the internal clock of our body) within all our cells, causing our bodies and brain to be stressed for greater hours of the day and reducing the quality of our sleep at night.

Iphone friends - go to Settings --> Display & Brightness --> Night Shift --> and set a schedule to remove blue light from noon onwards, or "manually enable until tomorrow" each day and keep your phone at a chosen "warm" temperature.


Computer/laptop junkies - google "f.lux" and download the app for your computer. Set your bedtime and f.lux will naturally remove blue light from your screen throughout the day to ensure you sleep well at night.





4. Eat a piece of dark chocolate


You probably already said yup and are starting to eat that bar of dark chocolate you stashed in your desk drawer - well played. But, if you do need a small explanation as to why dark chocolate is incredible for the brain, it's because dark chocolate helps to boost our dopamine and serotonin in our brain! The rewarding and happy brain messengers or neurotransmitters in our brain! Go team!


But make sure it's DARK! The higher the cocoa percentage the better the anti-oxidant/ anti-stress/ anti-inflammation properties it has!



5. Move your body


Get up off your chair, stretch your arms up to the ceiling, touch your toes, wiggle your butt side to side... whatever it is... make sure you're moving as much as possible throughout the day. Take the stairs, walk the long way to your meeting, park at the end of the parking lot... do whatever it takes to get your blood pumping.


Exercise has tremendous effects on our brain health - it helps create NEW brain cells, a process called neurogenesis ("neuro" meaning brain or brain cell, "genesis" meaning birth of). It helps improve memory, cognition, metabolism and more!


So count your steps and make them count!




6. Have gratitude


Mindfulness is a hot topic these days.



7.



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Instagram: @JuliaHamer

Twitter: @JuHamer

Facebook: @JuliaHamerCAN

Email: JuliaHamer.Medicine@gmail.com

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