Jill Hewlett - Brain Fitness Authority Toronto - Brain Health and Exercises


Is your life on auto pilot? Do you ever feel like you are living the same day over and over?  If so, there’s a good reason for it.

Research shows that most people have 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day and, guess what?  The majority of them are reruns from the day before!

If your life is healthy, fun, productive and rewarding –don’t bother changing a single thought or action.

BUT, if you are not entirely happy with your life circumstances or you feel that things could be different or better…you are right, they could be.

There are countless ways of engaging in one’s life experience.While the version you are currently plugged into may on the surface seem like your only option; it truly isn’t.

To our own detriment, without even realizing it, humans can quickly become habituated to daily thought processes, patterns, and emotional responses that may not be serving us.

This is neuroplasticity in action!

Your brain has the ability to change its neural networks and pathways due to influential factors such as behaviours, environment, stressors and nutritional intake, which all affect neural processes and processing.

As well, your brain will engage in synaptic pruning. This process deletes neural connections that are not being used, or that are no longer useful and puts energy and time into strengthening the necessary ones.

Knowing this, I’ve been doing my best to intentionally ‘weed out’ some of my own suboptimal habits (i.e. patterns and ways of thinking that aren’t useful or meaningful), and focus on creating the space and opportunity for better options to take root and flourish.

Of course, it usually isn’t easy to change a habit overnight – time and practise are typically required.  Although, never say never!

Have you ever encountered someone who, in an instant, quit smoking because they found out they were pregnant or dealing with a major health concern?

When there is enough motivation, the seemingly impossible becomes possible.

Having said that, most of us are living comfortably in our ‘comfort zone’ and making changes can be challenging and take some time. The trick is to have some strategies to release old patterns and build new ones.

Becoming aware of what is not working in your life is the first key step.

Many people start to ignore issues because they are embarrassed to admit they have them or don’t know how to change them.This is clearly not a proactive or productive way to make positive changes.

Once you become aware of an issue the next step is, with as much neutrality as possible, do your best to simply observe the issue when it comes up.

When we put criticism or judgement on something, we ironically foster a deeper connection with it. Emotions magnify things and give them more flavour, context and strength, so it’s best to simply ‘observe’ with as much detachment as possible.

Likely some of these issues will inevitably provoke some sort of emotional response or unhealthy thoughts.  When you notice this happening, it’s key to DISRUPT these cycles and cause interference.

Just as we are told to brush and floss our teeth on a daily basis to impede the build up of plaque and unhealthy bacteria, it is key to disrupt our own thought processes and emotional reactions so they don’t take hold.   

Here are some easy and fun ways to disrupt unhealthy patterns so you can put focus and energy on new ones:

  • When you discover you are in the midst of thinking or doing something that is stressful or not effective, take a moment to pause, breathe and then re-engage your body and brain in a new way. There are lots of brain activation strategies in my new Brain Fitness card set. These can be implemented anywhere and anytime. You’ll find a sample activity that you can get started with right here:  https://www.jillhewlett.com/brain-fitness-cards/
  • As a preventative measure, it’s key to change things up on a regular basis. You can move a household item that you use regularly.  The kitchen is a great place because you likely go in there several times per day. Once you have a new habit and pattern, change up something else to practise letting go of older habits and patterns.
  • Once per month, engage in something you have never done before. New experiences engage your brain in new ways and disrupt your current life patterns and momentum.

Of course, structure is important too – we need a solid framework to work within, and clearly there are things you don’t want to disrupt, such as blood flow to your brain!

When brain cells become active, they need energy in the form of glucose and oxygen, which is delivered by an increase in blood supply to that part of the brain. A lack of oxygen to the brain weakens the ability of neurons to fire, alters brain chemistry, causes brain swelling, lesions and the formation of plaques and tangles – distinct features of Alzheimer’s.

Clearly there are healthy habits to foster and unhealthy ones to release.  Knowing the difference will make or break your Fit Brain and Fit Life!

To your growth,