Here’s what I wish I had known when a 2015 mental health crisis forced me to step back from Program Management at Texas Instruments…our brains can change! The concept of “neuroplasticity” teaches that our brains are not fixed entities; we shape our mental health through lifestyle, choice, and cognitive training like mindfulness.
Mindfulness meditation can not only mitigate stress, anxiety, and depression, but also equip you to better handle future stressors. Consistent mindfulness training has also been shown to improve working memory and enhance the ability to focus and shut out distractions. In short, mindfulness helps you let go of negative cognitive patterns and strengthen positive ones. As Hebb’s Law states, “neurons that fire together wire together” – we can reshape our brains with training and new habits.
Try this: close your eyes and place a hand on your belly. Take three deep breaths into your hand, feeling the belly expand on the inhales and deflate on the exhales. This simple act of belly breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, which controls the autonomic nervous system. A few deep belly breaths help to reset the central nervous system by engaging our parasympathetic, or “rest and digest” nervous system.