5 Ways Neurofeedback Training is The Gym for Your BrainAlex Theoret
Come summer, cake is not your friend. For months you’ve been avoiding that rum-spiced coconut gelato cake someone keeps posting on Facebook. You gain weight just looking at it. Then, just as you’re about to give in and raid the local gourmand patisserie, you stop and remember: warm, body-bearing weather is coming. While that crème fraiche looks great on a top of berries, it won’t look so good on top of your thighs. Ugh.
You’ve probably been having this internal conversation with yourself for months now. Summer is here and it’s hard not to be a little self conscious about your physical fitness. But what about your mental fitness? Did you know your brain – just like your body – is responsive to “exercise”? In fact, you can actually create a training regimen that functions like a gym for your brain. Neurofeedback, in particular, is a non-invasive, drug-free and naturopathic means of training your brain for better performance and improved overall wellness. Thirty-minute neurofeedback sessions are like mini workouts for your noggin. And just like physical exercise, a consistent neurofeedback regimen has all kinds of benefits including: more restful sleep, improved memory and more efficient execution of daily workflow.
How does that happen? Neurofeedback training builds “muscle” and “burns fat”. In other words, EEG biofeedback AKA neurofeedback trains your central nervous system to marshal its resources more efficiently and that results in several significant life improvements including:
- Resilience– Just like exercise builds endurance, Neurofeedback can help your mind “bounce back” from day-to-day challenges and stressors. When you are emotionally overwhelmed, eventually the brain becomes consumed with past and future events and doesn’t function at its best. Neurofeedback can help your brain “roll with the punches” of daily life.
- Flexibility- Stress, inactivity and natural aging can make you physically stiff and inflexible. If you don’t consistently exercise, your body is forced to work harder to accomplish even basic daily physical tasks. Similarly, neurofeedback works your brain’s “muscles” and makes it so that daily tasks consume less mental effort. Instead of staying stuck on problem, brain training helps your brain “bend” and “reach” for better solutions.
- Stress Reduction- One of the primary benefits of physical exercise is that it triggers the release of hormones and chemicals that help de-stress our bodies. There is not evidence (yet) to suggest neurofeedback releases endorphins, but the relaxing effect of EEG biofeedback is significant enough that the Federal Drug Administration has approved the use of neurofeedback for stress reduction. The only difference is that brain training doesn’t require buying a pair of running shoes or purchasing a gym membership to enjoy the benefits of stress reduction.
- Focus: More than any other type of exercise, yoga encourages mental discipline through sustained concentration. Have you ever tried to stay upright in Tree Pose while your mind is drifting and wandering? Good luck with that! Similarly, neurofeedback helps to improve consistent focus and concentration. Basically, neurofeedback teaches your brain to pay attention without all the sweat and physical exertion of a yoga class.
- Core strength- Traditional weight lifting/training tends to isolate certain muscle groups for improved strength. The problem with this approach is that some areas of your body don’t benefit as much as others: you can build strong legs and still have weak arms. Neurofeedback training, especially the Dynamical Neurofeedback® approach espoused by companies like NeurOptimal®, doesn’t spotlight any particular area of the brain. Their system is truly a “whole brain” approach that encourages drawing mental resources from wherever your central nervous system deems best for your individual brain. Much like yoga’s postures benefit your whole body, this type of neurofeedback is adept at addressing many different issues and problems and therefore is best described as building “core strength” within your brain.
The limitations of exercise apply to neurofeedback as well. Exercise is not magic. It’s not going to make you taller. It won’t turn you into an NBA star or George Clooney. Physical fitness simply makes the best of what you have. Neurofeedback works the exact same way: it facilitates getting the most of what you’ve got between your ears. You might even be pleasantly surprised by the dormant potential waiting there! Listen, if you can find it in yourself to resist cake (cake!), you can certainly drum up the wherewithal to get your brain into bikini-body shape this summer.