Articles

Brain Health and Wellness

Jul 9, 2020

Dr. Stacy Grossman, Psy.D. – Director of Center for Brain Recovery

Brain health is essential to our overall health and wellness. Our brain is what makes us who we are and dictates how we behave, how we think, and how we feel. Keeping our brain healthy is one of the most important facets of recovery, but what do we do?

One simple yet effective tool is mindful meditation.

Mindfulness can increase the brain’s neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to rewire itself and develop new pathways in response to stimulation and learning. There have been many studies over the last several years showing how beneficial mindful meditation is for our brain. One research study from UCLA showed that meditation can increase the amount of gray matter in the brain, which provides a “neuroprotective” effect for meditators: protecting the brain from some of the natural effects of aging. Grey matter in the brain is where the majority of our neurons and cells live, therefore increased grey matter results in improved function throughout the brain, particularly key areas such as memory, movement, and emotions. Another study from Harvard University found that mindful meditation changes the actual structure of the brain: increase in cortical thickness in the hippocampus (learning and memory) and decrease in volume of the amygdala (fear and stress center of the brain). These brain structure changes led to meditators reporting better cognitive function, improved ability to regulate stress, and decreased perceived anxiety.

At Hanley Center, the Center for Brain Recovery utilizes different modalities of mindfulness to teach our patients how to meditate in order to obtain these positive benefits.

Guided meditations, biofeedback, and neurofeedback are three of the modalities used for this purpose. Biofeedback and neurofeedback are tools to help patients understand how their mind and body are connected, using technological devices to show patients how their body is physiologically responding to breathing and meditation. Learning the right way to meditate and breathe is essential in getting the benefits that mindful meditation provides, so these devices are used as a tool to help patients understand how to do this.

Improving cognitive function is another goal of the Center for Brain Recovery.

Years of research have shown the best way to improve cognitive performance is by challenging your brain to learn a new skill. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to play an instrument or learn a new language, the research on how beneficial this is to the brain is plentiful! Brain games are another tool to assist in cognition. Although research has been mixed on how effective brain games and puzzles can be to enhance function, the consensus seems to be that if you are someone that enjoys doing brain exercises, keep doing them! The engagement and stimulation brain games provide will never harm you and have the potential to improve function. Stimulating the brain is essential in improving neuroplasticity, which in turn, improves cognitive function.

Hanley Center – A Path to Recovery

Hanley Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 844-501-4673.

You May Also Like…

Understanding Powerless

Understanding Powerless

By Bart Ross -- Recovery & Alumni Services Coordinator Step One: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol –...