Over the weekend I learned a new term; neuroplasticity.
This term may sound scientific and intimidating, however do not allow the length or technical nature of the word steer you away.
Neuroplasticity is actually quite amazing. The term, which was not discovered until recent years, allows our minds to change and develop throughout the entirety of our lives. We do not learn a certain amount of information up until a certain point and then remain stagnant. Our mind is able to develop, change, improve, expand and alter every day.
In an article published by Stephanie Liou, Project Leader and Student Researcher for the Stanford University’s Huntington Outreach Project for Education, explained that scientists previously believed that the brain “stopped developing after the first few years of life.”
As a result of new research, scientists now believe that, “the brain continues to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life,” Liou explains in the Stanford University article titled, “Neuroplasticity.” Through neuroplasticity the neurons in the brain are able to compensate for injury and adjust their activity in response to new situations or changes in the environment.
How is this possible? Neuroplasticity makes learning new skills, information or habits possible.
Neuroplasticity, as defined by Medicinenet.com, is the brain’s ability to reorganize through the formation of new neural connections.
In other words, neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to create new habits and process new information.
Each time a new experience occurs, a new decision is made, or a new action takes place, the brain will create a new pathway for this thought to take place.
Imagine walking to the store around the corner each morning for a cup of coffee. Today, instead of walking to the store you regularly frequent you decide to make a pot of coffee at home. As this new decision is made the brain will create a new neural pathway allowing this new decision to be possible.
The process is better known as the “reorganization” of the brain allowing the formation of new neural connections, according to Liou. This reorganization process is one that we can all benefit from throughout the entirety of our lives.
Putting Neuroplasticity into Practice
On the first day this new activity may feel strange or uncomfortable. The second day, you still may feel uncomfortable, while slightly familiar. The third day you may begin to think making coffee at home may not be that bad. And finally by the fourth day making coffee at home may become second nature as you recognize the cost-effective benefits.
Each day that you choose to make a new decision the neural pathway that allows the activity to take place is strengthened. As the neural pathway is strengthen the previous pathway begins to weaken. Overtime the previous pathway will become so weak that the brain no longer triggers the mind to make the previous decision, allowing for the new decision to become second nature.
Consider how difficult it may feel the first time you drive to a new location, begin a new activity, or learn a new skill. The activity feels foreign and unfamiliar, the word sounds like a different language, and the location feels out of place.
Putting Neuroplasticity to the Test
Sounds awesome right? Maybe even too good to be true? How about putting neuroplasticity to the test. In an effort to give this new scientific-sounding new neurological pathway to the test.
Step 1: Select a new activity which you will do a minimum of once per day for 28 days. Make sure the activity is completely new and you are not currently doing it in any way.
Step 2: Commit to completing this activity once per day for 28 days. Allot time to complete this task.
Step 3: Put the activity to the test. Make a note of the difficulty level to begin the new task each day. Complete a mental check in. Do you feel out of place? Does the word sound foreign? Does the activity feel uncomfortable? Chances are “no,” instead you will in fact feel comfortable, at ease and you may even enjoy the activity.
Angela’s 28-Day Neuroplasticity Behavior Change Challenge
Over the next 28 days I have decided to take on a daily meditation challenge: “I will meditate, every day, a minimum of once per day, for a total of 28 days.” – Angela Joy
I chose 28 days because it is the length of time of the month of February, not because of the belief that a habit is formed in 21 or so days.
Psychologist Jeremy Dean, the author of, “Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick,” found that creating habits is not a one-size-fits-all solution. In other words, there is not a set amount of time that every person will complete a daily task thus forming a habit.
Therefore, my timeline was not selected with the assumption that I will create a habit in 28 days, however I would like to measure how my body feels and reacts to 28 days of consistently completing this new activity.
In sum, I hope this article will inspire you to learn new information, try new things and attempt new healthy habits!
If you are interested, join the 28-day challenge and commit to complete this new activity for a total of 28 days.
If you do decide to take on the challenge, please share with me! Send me the challenge you have selected and why you have chosen to complete.
❤ Wishing you joy, love and blessings along the way as you allow neuroplasticity to occur in your brain!