Tips for building ‘happy’ neural pathways
Researchers are only just beginning to reveal the brain’s incredible capability to rewire itself. But the good news is that we now know it is possible to create positive, healthy thoughts and habits that feel effortless – it just takes a little practice.
Apr 17, 2023|
Apr 17, 2023
Scientists are yet to fully comprehend the capacity of the brain. This incredibly complex organ is responsible for helping you navigate your way through life, and working with the rest of your body to keep you safe. While there is new evidence emerging all the time that highlights the brain’s weird and wonderful capabilities, the most exciting discovery is the brain's ability to adapt and essentially ‘rewire’ its own neural pathways.
What are neural pathways
These pathways are simply the connection between neurons (brain cells) and the brain. Neurons are the building blocks of your nervous system, and scientists speculate that as humans we have around 100 billion of them. They send messages to the rest of your body, allowing you to physically function, process emotions and interact with the world around you. Neurons create repeated thought patterns and habits through neural pathways, which essentially defines your behaviour and how you live your life.
From the time you’re in diapers, you quickly learn about the dangers of the world by absorbing the responses from the people around you. You learn that touching sharp objects = bad, and that laughing is rewarded with a smile and a cuddle. These are all key learning experiences that carve out different neural pathways to help your brain make sense of your surroundings. Your neural pathways are what help you learn about the world around you, and they play a crucial role in your behavioural and emotional development. Like a road more travelled, once you repeat the same action again and again, overtime the habit becomes deeper and more ingrained. Once a neural pathway is created, it can impact how you feel and respond to that event/situation/thing for the rest of your life. Whether you reach for a glass of wine after a long day of work, or sleep in past your alarm, the things you do repeatedly are what create strong neural pathways. As you can imagine, if you’re not reviewing or challenging your habits and questioning old beliefs – you may find yourself stuck in a bit of a rut.
It was once believed that neural pathways were relatively fixed, and that you really can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but fortunately - that isn’t true. Although your neural pathways are governed by your ingrained habits, they're also created each time you expand your awareness, learn something new, challenge your mindset and even move your body.
How can MitoQ help?
Your brain is constantly processing information and despite taking up only 2% of your entire body mass, it consumes a remarkable 20% of your body’s total energy requirements. The more energy a cell requires, the more mitochondria it will have – and as an energy intensive organ, your brain cells contain a significant amount of these cellular powerhouses. Since most of the energy the brain consumes is generated by mitochondria, it's particularly vulnerable to mitochondrial damage.
MitoQ significantly increases the antioxidant levels within mitochondria helping them to generate energy our neurons need, and fight against free radical damage within our cells.
Other ways to support your neural pathways
The brain’s ability to change and adapt is now recognised as neuroplasticity, and scientists are only just beginning to discover the brain’s incredible capability to rewire itself. What we do know is that it is possible to create positive, healthy thoughts and habits that feel effortless – it just takes a little practice.
Challenge your beliefs
Firstly, it’s so important to reinforce the belief that your brain can change. It’s a common but disempowering belief to think you’re a victim of your genes and neurons, when in reality, your brain has the incredible capacity to develop new ways of thinking and living at any moment. Start to become aware of the stories you’ve been telling yourself or the beliefs you’ve been holding onto and try to challenge them. Your beliefs shape your thoughts and behaviour, and if they’re limiting, they can hold you back from living your fullest life. Every time you replace a negative or limiting belief with a positive one, you reinforce new neural pathways that overtime, will become an automatic response.
We all know we need to be doing it, and now you have another reason why you should start. By increasing blood flow and boosting those feel-good hormones, regular movement is linked to so many neurological benefits – including the ability to increase neuroplasticity. From a neural pathway perspective, exercise enhances the connection between neurons and encourages the formation of new neurons. If you cast your mind back to those daily isolation walks during the pandemic, you’ll remember just how much of a mood-booster it was to get outside and move your body – and the good news is, you don’t need to be an athlete. Studies show that moderate exercise is actually more beneficial for mental health in adults than low or high intensity. So get walking!
Along with the many other benefits of sitting in silence with yourself, studies show that your daily meditation practice may encourage neuroplasticity and make way for those new neural pathways. Not only is this great news for those wanting to create new positive habits and thought patterns, but integrating meditation into your everyday routine has been shown to have some incredible long-term health benefits. From boosting cognitive function to reducing inflammation triggered by your stress response, and the best part – it's free.
It’s a no brainer that gratitude encourages a happier life, but for some reason it’s one of those practices that feels harder to buy into. It seems too simple that being thankful for the life you’ve been given is enough to dramatically change your wellbeing, but it turns out there are countless research papers that back these claims. Having an underlying sense of appreciation increases your resilience, supports emotional balance and helps you get more from life. Most gratitude practices include reflecting on three things you’re grateful for each day, and by doing this regularly, you’ll reinforce those new positive neural pathways.
The prospect of radically taking responsibility for your thoughts and mindset can feel daunting, but the idea that you can start to change the trajectory of your life with one small, new habit is a pretty empowering revelation.