Biohack Your Brain: 4 Ways Into an Upward Spiral

Momentum is a magical thing, but sometimes it works against me. Maybe you know what I mean? One thing goes wrong, my mood tanks, and then another thing goes sideways. Before you know it I’m careening with increasing speed and decreasing control right into a pile of garbage. Sometimes I find myself in a nasty downward spiral, and when that happens, I need to turn it around, fast. Here are four ways to biohack your brain, reverse that downward momentum and get into an upward spiral.

1.  Meditation

There’s different ways to meditate, and any form is beneficial. Meditation helps you produce beneficial hormones and chemicals in your brain, and decreases stress-related neurochemicals.

I enjoy putting on some brainwave entrainment audios. These audios help to get my brainwaves into a slow and steady state effortlessly, so I reach an excellent meditative state, fast. This gives me the best bang for my buck, so to speak.

I do some simple mindfulness exercises. I become aware of my breathing. I check in with my body and notice the sensations I’m feeling, without judgement or any imposed ideas about what I “should” feel.

Next, I relax my muscles a little at a time working from my head down to my toes. As I breathe in, I imagine breathing in relaxation, and as I breathe out, I imagine breathing out tension or stress. This helps give me something to focus on.

I direct the mindfulness gained from my meditation to my own internal processes. I notice how I generate my emotions, behaviors, and attraction to certain people and situations. I notice the meanings I create and assign to the events in my life.

Life is lived from the inside out. Meditation gives me the time and space to check in with myself, and to see what’s really going on “in there.”

I know it’s normal for my mind to wander during meditation. When my mind wanders, I come back to an awareness of my breathing. Breathing’s like an anchor. It’s always happening immediately, and that present experience awareness shifts me back into a proper meditative state.

​2.  Exercise

You probably already know exercise is good for you. It improves your overall health and longevity.

Exercise does all kinds of good things in the body, like keeping your heart strong and healthy. Feel-good chemicals are released in your brain when you exercise, so your mood lifts. You’ll also experience improved energy and confidence.

Recently, I learned that exercise also helps you to form new neurons in your brain. This improves learning and memory, and can help protect you from age-related mental decline.

Exercise also helps learning because it switches you from a focused mode of thinking, to a more relaxed and free-flowing thinking pattern. This gives your brain some much-needed time to process what it’s learned and to make new, creative connections to various ideas in your mind.

Okay, I’ll admit, for a while I was the Queen of Anti-Exercise. I would proudly state, “I don’t run unless something’s chasing me.”

Now, I have a new perspective. However, starting an exercise routine after years and decades of not exercising regularly was a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, I stumbled onto an idea called “habit-stacking,” and it’s been working really well for me.

Habit-stacking is about layering a new habit on top of an already existing habit. Layering or stacking habits is supposed to reduce the time needed to form a new habit because the new habit piggybacks on a deep neural pattern that’s already been carved by your old habit. Pretty cool!

I meditate in the morning, then I shower and get ready for work. Using habit-stacking, I incorporated exercise by slotting it between my meditation and my shower. Exercise became part of my morning routine faster than I ever believed possible!

Eat Right

Have you ever heard the expression “garbage in, garbage out?” It was a computer programming expression, but it also applies to your food choices. Your body needs the right fuel to perform well.

A Mediterranean diet has been scientifically proven to improve your health. This diet focuses on lean proteins like fish and turkey, fruits and veggies, whole grains and healthy fats. This diet can help you lose weight, reduces your risk of diabetes and heart disease, and all kinds of groovy things.

There are other healthy eating habits you can try, like intermittent fasting, or a ketogenic diet. I like the Mediterranean diet because it’s nicely balanced, and not too restrictive. I don’t do well with extreme diets.

The point is, pick something that works for you and stick to it. Eating right becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, a positive habit. The better you eat, the easier it is to continue doing so.​

Sleep

In the mad rush of daily life, it’s easy to to diminish the importance of sleep. People say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” That time will come sooner if you don’t make sleep a priority.

I’ve had struggles with insomnia. I know how challenging it can be to fall asleep and stay asleep. For a time, I was proud of how well I seemed to function on little to no sleep.

I’m older now. That shit really doesn’t work for me anymore. Maybe I’m wiser now. Perhaps I’m just more tired.

Whatever the case, now when I struggle with insomnia, I use brainwave entrainment and meditation to help me get the Zzz’s I need. It works. One restless night is not the end of the world, but I guard my sleep now, and I value it in a way I didn’t when I was younger.

I learned back in high school biology that sleep helps with learning and memory consolidation. More recently, I learned that sleep also helps flush toxins out of the brain.

Toxins and dead cells and other garbage build up in the brain throughout the day. When I sleep, the cells in my brain shrink, and this creates channels. The toxins are flushed out through the channels, and presto! I wake with a healthier, more detoxed brain.

Detoxing the brain improves brain function. It makes it easier to focus, to learn or to perform well in your daily tasks. It’s the reason why everything looks better in the morning after a good night’s sleep.

Face it, no one is at their best when they’re tired. Physically, emotionally, and mentally, everything is harder when you’re tired. Sleep is critical. Get some.

To Review

There are 4 ways to biohack your brain and turn your downward spiral into an upward spiral. These are: meditation, exercise, healthy eating, and sleep. All these things improve the health of your brain, and good brain health moves your life in ever more positive directions.

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