Written by Professional Academy Management and Leadership Tutor, Kathryn Knights
We often struggle to understand or pay attention to our brains. However, just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean to say it shouldn’t be looked after. Once you start to view your brain as a tool that can be tracked and trained you can really start to use it to your advantage.
You can change your brain to help you be more productive, have better sleep and feel more relaxed. By understanding some more about the brainwaves that your mind exhibits on a daily basis you can start to take steps to optimise them for ageneral wellbeing.
At the root of our feelings, emotions and behaviours is the communication between neurons within our brains. This communication, in the form of electrical impulses, is measured in brainwaves.
Our brainwaves change according to what we’re doing and feeling. When slower brainwaves are dominant we can feel tired, slow, sluggish, or dreamy. At the other end of the scale, higher frequencies can make us feel wired or restless.
Brainwaves can be divided into five categories and each category has a distinct profile.
1. Delta – deep sleep and healing
This is the slowest of the frequencies and is experienced in deep sleep. Deep sleep is important for the healing process. Which is one reason why not having enough deep sleep is detrimental to your health.
2. Theta – dreaming and flow states
Theta brainwaves are present during deep meditation and light sleep. It is only experienced momentarily as you drift off to sleep (alpha) and wake from deep sleep (delta).
3. Alpha – relaxation and reflection
Alpha brainwaves are usually present when we close our eyes or when slipping into a daydream. It the optimal time to programme the mind for success as it heightens your imagination, learning and concentration.
4. Beta – focus and learning
Beta brainwaves are associated with normal waking consciousness and a heightened state of alertness. They are important for effective functioning throughout the day, but they can zap our energy and lead to stress.
5. Gamma – insight and expanded consciousness
Gamma is associated with bursts of insight and high-level information processing.
How can you hack your brainwaves for optimal health?
There’s actually a very simple way to change your brainwaves to feel calmer, less stressed and more energised: meditation.
Regular meditation has been found to increase alpha activity and decrease beta activity in waking states. Meditation is also free and no equipment is needed, making it a habit that’s easily sustainable.
Mindfulness mediation is a type of mediation. It is based around training your attention skills. During mindfulness mediation your mind becomes your anchor that you practice staying focused on. When you get distracted you simply notice that your mind was wandered and bring it back to the anchor.
By practising meditation every day for around 20 minutes changes will happen to your brain. You will become less reactive, you will have better executive function and there is now even evidence to suggest that long term meditators are spared brain aging i.e. loss of tissue.
Listen to music. If you want to cultivate a certain type of brainwave while engaging in a certain kind of task e.g. tapping into alpha waves if you can’t sleep then listening to binaural beats (looping sounds that promote specific brainwave states) can help. Binaural beats are free, safe and help maintain good mental health.
There are also apps featuring music that help to enhance focus.
Start paying your mind the attention it deserves and you’ll reap the rewards of feeling more alert and focused. Which means that challenges at work will start to feel easier and reaching goals becomes more likely because your mind will be trained for success.
If you need further advice, get in touch via LinkedIn.
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