What is neuroplasticity?

Neuro refers to neurons or nerve cells. These are messengers that send and receive signals from your brain.

Plasticity: refers to the brain’s flexibility, the way it can be easily influenced or trained.

How does it work?

The brain is a pattern-seeking device. This means that when you learn things, your brain sends messages from one neuron to another. By repeating the same thing, the brain remembers the task at hand and makes a pathway between the neurons. Once this pathway is created, the pattern is set and the task becomes easier and easier.  

Consider times in the past when you learnt something new, for example reading. First, you learnt the alphabet by repeating it. The more you recited it, the easier it got. This is neuroplasticity at its best, by going over and over the letters, your brain formed a pathway until you could go from A to Z without another thought.  You then went on to put letters together and form words, not easy to begin with, but once again, by practising, your brain laid down the pathways making it easier each time.  Just stop and think about anything else you have learnt to do in the past; riding a bicycle, driving a car, learning a foreign language or how to play a musical instrument etc Everything becomes easier the more you do it.

The brain continues to adapt and change throughout life and similar to any physical muscle, the brain gets stronger the more you use it. With that in mind, and the knowledge that you have the power to alter your way of thinking let’s look at how you can retrain your brain to reduce anxiety, panic and change installed negative thought patterns to more positive ones.