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Attitude 1 - Keep Smiling
 

Words Keep Smiling - cartoon character smilingGet your five-a-day: Smiling is free and boosts brain health. It helps gives birth to new brain cells and encourages changes in areas of the brain associated with learning and memory. It makes your brain more flexible, more resilient and better able to cope when challenged by injury or neurodegenerative diseases.

Smiling releases hormones that make you feel good, lowers blood pressure, boosts immune function and protects against stress, depression and anxiety.

So start and end your day with a smile and in between make sure you smile at least five times a day, even or especially if you don’t feel like it. The simple act of smiling sends messages to your brain that can make you happy even if you are not. Share at least one smile with someone else – it’s contagious and can lead to laughter. Spread the happiness and the health benefits.

Sculpt yourself a happy brain

The idea that we can shape our brain as adults is relatively new. For years, scientists thought that our brains were like a precious vase of fine porcelain: well-formed, prone to chipping if mishandled, but impossible to put back together.

This misconception has been brushed away to reveal a plastic brain that offers us all more hope. This ‘neuroplasticity’ lets the brain change its physical structure, repair damaged regions, grow new neurons or prune old ones. The brain can also reassign tasks to its different parts if one part becomes compromised – a process called compensation.

As a result, we can unwind our brain patterns and create a new weave that allows us to remember, feel, think, imagine and dream. What this means for each of us is that thinking can be a form of medication: it can change our biology.

Having MS can be scary, leading to worry, anxiety and stress all of which can impact negatively on your health and wellbeing.

If you worry excessively, you will activate certain brain pathways out of habit, strengthening that unhealthy braid of worry. Changing the way you think will untangle this habit. What’s more, you can use imagination to trick your brain. New brain-scanning wizardry has revealed that conscious perception activates the same brain areas as imagination.

So imagination can be a powerful antidote to a harsh reality. You can even quash the long-term effects of painful memories by refurbishing the past that resides inside your brain. Indeed, you can use visualisation to train your brain to get happy.

This is possible because your brain usually has trouble teasing apart our recorded experiences and internal fantasy. If you redraw in your mind serene landscapes with you sitting happy and content and spend time picturing those wonderful summer scenes long enough and hard enough, your brain will think those pictures really happened and will associate happiness with them.

So there is no need for mind-altering drugs: you can pop a ‘virtual happy pill’ by actively thinking productive, positive thoughts. This can take some work though. It requires focus, attention, dedication, action and persistence, but you can redraw the shape of your brain and your mind to experience and create greater happiness. And that’s a much healthier place to be, because happiness is good for your heart health, which in turn is good for your brain health. Happiness also strengthens your immune system and helps to combat stress.

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Hello Brain For more info on brain health visit Hello Brain
 

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