Hey there! It’s Monday morning already!
Wherever did the weekend go? It’s not as if I didn’t make myself productive because I did. It just amazes me the speed with which Saturday and Sunday seems to fly by.
I did learn something new this weekend that I would love to share with you. During my yoga class on Saturday morning, my teacher talked about how doing new things makes our brain smarter. Okay maybe you already knew this but I didn’t so please indulge me a bit because I think this is really interesting.
Now I’m not a scientist, and neither is my yoga teacher, but apparently, this is the way it works: if you usually do pretty much the same things over and over every day, your brain stays in the same thought process and continually uses the same neuron path. Your brain then becomes comfortable with this way of doing things and develops an established routine.
But when you try new things, such as new food, a new way of driving to work, a new exercise or even traveling to a new place, your brain is surprised and takes in this new experience and supposedly “grows” or expands while taking in the new information. You’re stimulating your brain to think outside of its usual routine, to make different connections between thoughts and actions that it has always been capable of doing but was not tried before.
In this case, my yoga teacher wanted us to do an exercise many of us (including myself) had never done before. A few of us, (me again), said nicely, but out loud, that we didn’t know how to do this move. So she showed us and told us to try our best. I could not wrap my brain around how I was supposed to get my body to do this configuration but I tried. I watched the teacher and tried to imitate her moves but it felt really awkward. Plus I didn’t want to hurt myself.
She broke it down and we tried again and I didn’t do it that well but I did improve and then understood a little better the move she was asking us to go for.
Adjusting to new situations challenges our brain and forces us to tackle a new way of doing things or looking at different situations in life such as trying new ways to repair, renew and help yourself heal from the loss.
One resource I pursued after my husband’s death was finding and joining a local support group. This was new territory for me and luckily I clicked with my group as it offered me some of the much needed support I was looking for at the time. Support groups are not always for everyone but I’m using them as an example of doing something new to expand your emotional choices while grieving. I searched for a bereavement support group because my inner voice told me I had to do something I had never done before to heal something that had a traumatic effect on my life and the life of our son.
The support group was totally out of my comfort zone but my experiences with the group confirmed for me that sometimes you have to force yourself to try new things. I didn’t know what was going to happen in my support group but I was hoping it would put me on a healing path. Just like my yoga class, at first it felt awkward and painful but then I started to make new healthy connections with others in the group.
I’m like everyone else where habits and routines are concerned. I love some of my more comfortable habits, such as ordering the same salad for lunch at one of the carry-out places near work and I almost always drive the same way to and from work, but still I recognize the amazing things that can happen when I try something new.
If you’ve been doing the same things every day and you’re not happy with what it’s bringing you, change things up. It’s good for our inner selves and our busy brains to look for new ways of taking care of ourselves.